This was to be my first ever Contact Epic and I was pretty excited to finally get a chance to compete in one of NZ’s most iconic MTB events. Unfortunately after plenty of rain the days before the event the Hunter river which feeds into Lake Hawea was deemed unsafe to cross so we were unable to do the usual 125km course and complete the full lap of the lake. Instead we went out for a 10-15km loop on the roads around Hawea Flat first before heading up the Eastern side of the lake to a few km’s past Green Bush hut near to where we would have popped out if we had been able to cross the Hunter river from the other side. The race still ended up at 125km albeit a different way to achieve that distance than the regular loop.
With the 95km event ahead of us on the track it meant there were a lot of riders to negotiate passes on not only on the way out but also on the return home as we had to follow the exact same track back that we had ventured out on. It made it hard to set a consistently fast pace but eventually I was able to get a gap over a very strong Josh Burnett about 50km into the race and finally get into some clear air.
With all the riders we had to pass and slippery conditions I definitely didn’t eat as much as I should have during the first 2 hours of the race and suffered big time for it over the last 50km. Luckily Josh was in the same boat and I was able to continue to eek out some time over the chasers to take the win in 4hrs and 43mins, a much longer day in the saddle then a typical XCO race but a great training day all the same. I look forward to returning again in the near future (international race schedule permitting) for a crack at the full lap of the lake and course record.