CHOCOLATE milk and energy drink awaited Oliver Thompson at the finish line of the Red Bull Defiance adventure race on Sunday.
While that mix may stray from the norm, it was Thompson’s combination of preparation and determination that helped his team win the X4 race at the Red Bull Defiance event.
Eighteen-year-old Thompson and team mates Jake Vargo, Hannah Presswood and Richard Greer were the first team across the line of the 150-kilometre race at Wanaka. The two-day race finished on Sunday and included road running, kayaking and mountainbike endurance disciplines. More than 250 athletes competed across the events
The four-person team race was a new addition to the event this year, and it allowed team members to pick which legs they took part in. Thompson’s team covered the challenging terrain in 11 hours 43 minutes to finish first overall and atop the mixed division.
“It is hard to tell where our team won it, but I think we were really consistent as a team and we worked well on each of our stages. I blew out both my tires at the same time on the first mountainbike stage so Richard and I lost about four minutes doing repairs, but we pushed hard for the rest of the way.”
Thompson’s team was second overnight and in a good position heading into the final day.
“We had the mental advantage of being in front of the other teams and they were fighting not only to catch us but overtake us. The pressure was still on though as it was close intense racing over the two days.
“The hardest bit for me had to be the skyline traverse at the end of day two, it’s just such a massive run with a lot of climbing. But it was great having company on that last run to push each other through.”
Whakatane’s Carl Jones competed in a team with multisport legend Steve Gurney and they were fifth in the mixed section, finishing in 12.31. Jones, a former World Cup mountainbiker, raced on the cycle legs and the massive mountain run.
“The mountainbikes were the best bits comfort wise but the run was unreal. It was probably one of the coolest things I’ve done and also the most painful thing I’ve done.
Right from the start I just kept my head down trying not to look up the mountain. My team mate Katie towed me 75 percent of it on a bungy so that helped a lot, as I burnt a few to many matches on the bike beforehand.”
The two-person race included Whakatane’s Matt Fredericksen and Mike Curtis who placed 11th in 15 hours. The two-person race required both athletes to complete the race together.