CYCLING

Wide Open Racing at K2

Thursday 25 October 2012, 2:19PM
By MDJ Media & Events Ltd
350 views


COROMANDEL

In mountain climbing circles, K2 is renowned as the world’s toughest peak. But in New Zealand the Cranleigh K2 is the country’s toughest cycling event; a gruelling 200km around the Coromandel Peninsula that attracts some of New Zealand’s best riders.

Scheduled for Saturday October 27, organisers are expecting more 1500 riders. The attraction is the European-style course and a hefty prize purse, but also a unique format that sees the event start from a different Coromandel town every year.

From this year’s start in Tairua, riders get a short warm up before taking on the 240m high Pumpkin Hill. But that’s just a teaser before a brutal 50k with 800m of climbing over the hills of Kuaotunu and Whangaparoa to the halfway mark at Coromandel township. Two more 200m climbs out of Coromandel gives everyone a new appreciation for the following 30k of flatlands along the Firth of Thames before K2’s signature climb, the 14k long, 425m high Kopu-Hikuai Hill. After Kopu-Hikuai, however, finishers are rewarded with a spectacular final 40k to the finish line back at Tairua.

Former winners have included Olympians, national reps and national champions such as Glen Mitchell, Jeremy Yates, Linda Villumsen, Roz Reekie-May, Meshy Holt, Serena Sheridan, Frazer MacMaster and Michael Torkler. But with 2011 winner, Torckler, still recovering from a hit-and-run incident in the USA and four-time winner Jeremy Yates having retired, racing this year is wide open.

The rider keenest to make K2 his own will be Wellington’s Andy Hagen, who finished sixth last year and third in 2010. Riders expected to challenge include Auckland’s Brad Tilby, who was fourth in 2009, and Hastings Josh Page and Wellington’s Stu Houltham, who were eighth and 13th in 2011. But the strongest challenge could be from riders at opposite ends of the age spectrum.

Auckland’s Aaron Strong is knocking on 40, but as one of the best climbers on the domestic scene the mountainous K2 will suit him. But watch also for Auckland teenager Jared Homes, who impressed with a 17th place in 2011 and will be a lot stronger in 2012.

The Cranleigh K2, however, is more than just a race for line honours. Offering something for riders of all age and ability, options alongside the flagship 200k Cranleigh K2 include the EMC Bikes 150k from Whitianga to Tairua, the Halycon K1 over 100k from Coromandel township to Tairua, and the Nicholas Browne 50k from Thames to Tairua that is named after keen cyclist Nicholas Browne who died from Kidney transplant complications three weeks after riding the 50k option in 2006.

The Halycon K1 also doubles as the elite women’s race, which will be another wide open affair. Favourites include internationally ranked junior riders, Ashleigh Neave (Nap) and Georgia Williams (Akld), who finished fifth and eighth in the 2011 event. But English triathlete Anna Reid, currently in New Zealand for last weekend’s world age group triathlon championship, could pose a problem if she doesn’t allow herself be daunted by the challenging Coromandel course.

Indeed, as New Zealand’s toughest cycle race K2 is nothing if not daunting. But starting and finishing at sea level mean riders enjoy as much down as up. “People dwell on K2’s hills,” says event organiser Andy Reid, “but we tell them that it’s 2300 vertical metres of awesome downhills.”

While the fastest riders cut out the full 200k in less than five and a half hours, with the record of 5hrs 02min 34secs set by Jeremy Yates in 2008, for the 1500-odd mere mortals the Cranleigh K2 is a personal challenge of some six to eight hours.

Organised by Adventure Racing Coromandel, the Cranleigh K2 is an event with something for everyone. Their other events include the Moehau Multisport Race, The Great Kauri Run, and the ARC Adventure Race. Their events benefit the Spirit of Coromandel Trust, which provides opportunities for young people to experience the outdoors.

 

Cranleigh K2 – Previous Winners

Year

Mens

Time

Womens

Time

2011

Michael Torkler

5:12:08

Teresa Adam

2:52:54

2010

Jeremy Yates

5:08:13

Serena Sheridan

2:34:45

2009

Jeremy Yates

5:17:21

Meshy Holt

2:42:03

2008

Jeremy Yates

5:02:34

Serena Sheridan

2:54:31

2007

Jeremy Yates

5:14:19

Sarah Murdoch

6:13:21

2006

Frazer MacMaster

5:17:34

Linda Villumsen

6:04:06

2005

Glen Mitchell

5:21:22

Meshy Holt

5:28:47

2004

Glen Mitchell, Scott Guyton, John Lieswyn

5:33:31

Tony Bradshaw

6:00:38

2002

Matt Yates

5:34:58

Meshy Holt

5:58:48

2003

Glen Mitchell

5:18:54

Roz Reekie-May

5:37:25

NB: Elite women now race the Halycon K1 over 100k.