As far as work trips go, this was one of the best ones we’ve had yet… We still had to work for our play but this recent trip stacks up as one of the most enjoyable we’ve been on. You see we’ve just returned from 5 days racing, riding and promoting our events in Rotorua, New Zealand and it was sweet as (bro).
John and I are fortunate in that we get to travel to some pretty spectacular parts of Australia when plotting courses for our various events, with previous highlights being Tassie for the Mark Webber Challenge (x2), The Victorian Alps for Bike Buller and earlier Keen Adventure Races, Alice Springs for the MTB Enduro , and even the odd trip to nearby Forrest to set up for the Odyssey are pretty sweet. But this trip to Rotorua is right up there.
We were the guests of Neil Gellatly and the 3D Rotorua Multisport Festival (www.3drotorua.co.nz) that takes place over the kiwi long weekend in June. We have a partnership with the 3D Event as the winning kiwi competitors get an all expenses paid trip to race as Team New Zealand in our Trans Tasman Adventure Racing Championship at the Augusta Anaconda Adventure Race. As we had not been to the event before it was obviously very important that we attend this year, that we participate in his races and also very important that we allow a couple of extra days to truly test the Rotorua MTB Trails that the area is famous for – so we did!
We flew over on Friday, sampled the trails on Saturday morning and then on Saturday afternoon set up our own expo stand during registration to encourage the kiwis to come and race over in Australia. All kiwis we spoke to were super friendly, were pretty aware of our races in Oz and keen to come at some point in the future, nice. Sunday was race day where we had to put our money where our mouth was and line up for one of the many different events conducted as part of the 3D Mutisport Festival.
As I’m currently in training for the Gold Coast Marathon (in just 4 weeks time) I chose the Half Marathon Trail Run held within the Whakarewarewa forest. It was a beautiful run that started amongst the stand of almighty Californian Redwoods and then quickly climbed through the towering fern trees and prehistoric rainforest to ridge tops that surround Rotorua. This was super fine (and super hilly) trail running with not a single foot step on anything but flowing trail through the forest. 95 minutes later I was across the line in 2nd place, 76seconds behind first and happy that I’d had a good hard race ahead of my marathon in a month’s time.
John meanwhile lined up for the 50km Multisport race that included an 8km lake paddle, 30km mountain bike and 12km trail run that was the principle event of the weekend. After a mass start with all paddlers on the water at once, JJ settled onto Richard Ussher’s wake and together they blitzed the paddle with John showing he still knows a thing or two about paddling (after all these years). Trying not to smile too much on the flowing trails JJ held form on the mountain bike leg and backed this up with a respectable run and finished 6th overall amongst one of the strongest kiwi fields assembled that year. A very fair effort.
With promotional and competitive obligations now fulfilled we then spent the next day and half riding the famous Rotorua mountain bike trails. We both love riding and had read enough magazine articles gesticulating at the quality of these trails and can now admit that – it’s all true. The riding at Rotorua is awesome and probably the best we’d experienced anywhere. On Monday we hit the trails for a solid 4 hour ride with a crew of Aussie racers who’d come over for the event including Peri, Chris, Deanna, Kim, Jan and Howard with a common call at the end of just about every trail claiming that, “that was the best trail I’ve ever ridden” so much so was our fun on the bike.
So as the wheels of our Boeing 747 land at Tullamarine and I finish this little article I feel lucky to do what I do for a job and to have the opportunity to go on such a ‘work trip’. And if you want a good event to attend, or to ride some of the best trails on the planet then schedule your next ‘conference’ at Rotorua. Sam Maffett