RYAN Christensen, Brad Jones and Sam Clark speed towards Motu on the mountainbike leg of last year’s Motu Challenge. File photo D7654-006

ABOUT 200 cyclists will be on the start line at Opotiki on Saturday for a full day of multisport competition in this year’s running of the Motu Challenge.

Race manager Jarrod Teddy said the number of competitors had been much the same for the past three or four years, but in the past two events he had found that there had been an increase in the number of individual entrants.

“I think, with the resurgence of the Coast to Coast, a lot of the elite athletes use the Motu Challenge as a great training opportunity,” said Teddy.

This year’s event will have two starts, one at 6am and the next at 7am.

The aim of the earlier start is to give some of the slower competitors the opportunity to avoid being eliminated at cut-off times and they will have a better opportunity to complete the event.

“There are cut-off times at the end of each stage, and we have found in the past that some of the competitors who are a bit slower have been caught out,” said Teddy.

Some of New Zealand’s top multisport competitors have registered for this year’s event, including Whakatane’s Sam Clark, and Bobby Dean from Maketu.

Teddy said a new entrant this year was Scott McDonald from Tauranga, who has won a number of short course events in recent times and this will be his first attempt at the longer distance.

There are also entries from competitors who have been taking on the Motu for many years, including Neil Jones and George Christison, as well as Rachel Cashin from Taumarunui who has many times been the fastest in the kayak leg.

The Motu is certainly challenging event, which includes a 65-kilometre mountain bike ride, followed by a 17km run, a 52km road cycle ride, 27km kayak paddle, an 8km road cycle and then finishing with a 3km run – a total of 172km.

As well as the main challenge, the event includes some less strenuous races – a short duathlon of 82km, which includes a mountainbike and run stage, a long course duathlon, which involves mountain bike, run and road cycle stages, and the Motu 160, 160km on both mountain bike and road bike.

“The long course duathlon is probably the toughest of all races,” said Teddy.

“Just imagine having to ride 90 kilometres to the finish line after running 17km.”
There are also team events involving three, four and five athletes.

Teddy said it took about 80 volunteers to make sure the event ran like clockwork.

“Many of our volunteers have been with us for the full 20 years – and they do exactly the same job in the same place as they did 20 years ago.”

Teddy has been competing in the event himself since the early 2000s and he’s keen to make the start line again this year.

“I haven’t done any training this year, so my goal is just to finish,” he said.

He has been race organiser for many years and this year he is race manager, which means that his duties stop on Saturday morning, just before the start.

From that point on it is the race controller’s responsibility.