|By Richard Ussher|
Elina and I travelled up to Rotorua for the 2nd edition of the 3D race last weekend, after a brilliant event in 2011 it promised to be even better, and a lot bigger.
Our first challenge though was to fit 5 kayaks onto the roof on the car as we’d somehow mentioned to some Aussies we could get them boats.
One bonus on this trip was we were collecting a new sponsored Volkswagen Amarok from the Giltrap group, so space on the way home wasn’t going to be an issue – just who got to drive the new car might have been!
The hardest thing about racing in Rotorua is trying to stay off the trails before the race, both my easy rekkie rides threatened to turn in to full blown smash myself missions due to how much fun it is there, luckily I dragged myself away before too much damage was inflicted on the body or the gear. Luke Haines from Australia wasn’t so lucky when his brand new front wheel folded in half and he ended up with some painful injuries.
Both Elina and I were very wary of the challengers this year, in the Men’ s field there was no Dougal Allen, but Braden Currie, Sam Clark and Trevor Voyce all promised to be tough opposition and I was particularly wary of Braden’s potential on the final run.
In the Women’s field the likes of Deanna Blegg and Fleur Lattimore are always in the hunt but it was local MTB and former Multi-sporter Nic Leary who potentially posed the biggest threat with her hometown knowledge and excellent descending skills on the bike.
Race day dawned fine and not foggy which had been looking a concern the day before when you couldn’t even see the raft 10m from the side of the lake. It’d also warmed up nicely so with the course dry and fast and good conditions all round it was looking like a fast race.
At the hooter we were off and by the first buoy I was with John Jacoby and Sam Newlands and we gradually got a gap on the chasers. I was a bit surprised not to see Sam Clark in our group but he was stalking us not far behind. I was even more surprised when Sam N dropped off the back leaving John and me.
It sounds like John doesn’t do any training any more but as a friend said to me “when you’ve been a 4 x Marathon Kayaking World Champ you’re probably never going to be anything other than very fast”. While John looked like he was cruising in the photos I was looking far less composed! It is a pretty cool feeling to be out the front with someone of John’s caliber though and we came into the transition side by side until he showed he’s lost none of his ruthlessness and jumped out his boat and sprinted for the kayak prime.