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Three of the last four year’s winners are back to contest the 125km Contact Epic course. Brent Miller of Christchurch, winner 2009, Tim Wilding, winner 2010 and Dougal Allan, winner 2011, will be facing off on the start line this April 21 to see who has the goods. With the open winner’s first place purse being raised to $1000 the incentive for other dark horses to put in their best efforts is there too.
Kath Kelly of Otago is returning to see if she can make this her 5th consecutive open women’s title. But with other hardened athletes like Floortje Drasma of Wanaka entered she will be working hard in the seat to earn it.
“When some of the best in the country come together to take on the hardest MTB event it has to offer then the challenge is really on!” says Danielle Nicholson, race director of the Contact Epic.
With this event being the ultimate test of the endurance mountain biker it is hardly surprising that a small group of die-hard attendees of the Contact Epic are calling for a double-lapper. Several Wanaka athletes who have raced the previous years’ event in good times are trialing an earlier start to ensure they make it twice around before entering the Hawea Hotel at the same time as other competitors.
“These athletes are local lads we know have the cycling ability and safety know-how to complete this ultra-endurance challenge. As for whether it will be opened up as a competitive leg in the future…we will see what they encounter enroute.” said Nicholson . “The true challenges are never visible until the day.”
Supporters are welcomed out at the Hawea Hotel on the day as riders are expected to arrive inside the garden bar from around 12pm.
Entries for the 2012 Contact Epic have been extended until March 30 and can be made at www.contactepic.co.nz .