Saturday saw the inaugural running of the Go Native Enduro, the brain child of Kimmy McVicker and Jeff Carter of South Star Adventures. A solid crew of Spoke staff jumped at the event as soon as the course was announced, two stages on the epic Ranga trail on Rotorua’s Rainbow Mountain and a mega high speed blat down to Lake Okataina for the final stage. From the get go the whole event has shaped up a little different than most, a cooler than usual poster, amazing trophies that are most definitely not chainrings stuck in hunks of wood and New Era flat brimmed hats for the volunteers.
The calm before… well there wasn’t really a storm, just one hell of a rad time. All Photos Caleb Smith
The whole thing kicked off at Kerosene Creek where riders picked up numbers and timing chips, shit was talked and then buses were boarded for the first shuttle up to the (almost) top of Rainbow Mountain. All eyes were on early favourites Byron Scott and Matt Walker with both embracing the spirit of (Italian) enduro and sneaking in some pre-race day runs! After the first run Byron had the lead for the men and Jenna Makgill for the ladies, stage two ( a repeat of the first stage) would see Matt take the win but not by enough to move Byron from 1st after the two stages, Hayden (sizzle) Lee took 2nd and Bryon, after a crash, finished the second stage in 3rd. Jenna won again.
Event organiser and 5th place finisher Jeff Carter drops some knowledge at the pre race briefing. Photo Caleb Smith
After an epic liason stage involving home baking, more buses, cars and a 45 minute push, everyone planted themselves at the top of Stage 3 on the Western Okataina Trail. The push up this relatively wide open track put the fear in a few riders with just how much speed would be safe, but again it was a battle between Byron, Matt and Hayden, in fact that was the order in which they finished, giving Byron the first win in what’s set to be a big mark on the New Zealand Enduro calendar . Jeff, Kim and everyone else involved put on an amazing event that straddled the seriousness of racing with the good times of a casual trail ride with your buddies. Nowhere was this more evident than in the fact that four of the main sponsors also all raced; Torpedo7′s Lester Perry even finished 4th overall!
Matt Walker wanted it bad, finishing 2nd on Stage 1 (14 seconds back) and 1st on Stage 2 although it wouldn’t be enough to take Byron Scott down. Photo Caleb Smith
Adrienne Hooper couldn’t match Jenna’s technical descending, scoring second overall but with two minutes separating the two after three stages, it was Jenna’s from the start. Photo Caleb Smith
Sponsor Lester Perry from Torpedo7 put in a solid performance all day from within his sweltering full face helmet to finish 4th after the three stages. He killed it on Rainbow finishing 11 seconds ahead of Jeff Carter on Stage 1. Photo Caleb Smith
Johann Roozenburg laid down the hammer and earned the day’s silent assassin award finishing 6th overall. And he earns my award for looking the raddest through this cool little chicane! Photo Caleb Smith
Auckland’s Skull Bike Club even sent some members of their MTB chapter. Justin Henehan represents with a nice Scandi though the pungas.
Did I mention that Spoke sent four riders to the event? The Rodfather and Mark battled it out all day finishing just 10 seconds apart with age winning out in the end.
Kimmy, Jeff and Betty the Yeti.
Lisa Haycock looked a fast on her second run, but still couldn’t catch Jenna or Adrienne down Rainbow’s amazing Ranga Trail!
Behailu Green made the trip from Aussie to shred Rotorua’s lesser known trails.
Byron Scott just smashed through this technical section on Rainbow Mountain.
Stage 3 was new to most, and after pushing up the Western Okataina Trail from Lake Okataina people were pretty excited about going down. This trail was balls out high speed drifting action; turning a 45 minute push into a 3.42 minute race run should give you some indication of speed.
Spoke contributing writer Jono Baddiley does his best Jerome Clementz impersonation stomping off the start line!
Not that it matters because there was only two overall winners on the day but Rod Bardsley drifted his way to 12= on the final stage (with me, haha) and what was 3rd in the old dudes category!
It was super cool to see another race sponsor enter the race. Matt Whitaker from Wide Open was once a solid fixture in mid-nineties downhill and I hear he’s planning an Enduro comeback.
Jenna Makgill had well over a minute lead on the other girls heading into the third stage, so it was her race to lose, but that wasn’t happening!
Event organiser Jeff Carter put the gas on stage three and managed to move up a place from 6th after two stages to finish 5th overall.
Byron’s final run and stage win solidified him as a force to be reckoned with, look out DME, the dude’s on a tear!
After beers and BBQ on the edge of Lake Okataina it was trophy time!
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The overall men’s podium (L-R), Matt Walker 2nd, Byron Scott 1st, Hayden Lee 3rd
The overall women’s podium (L-R), Adrienne Hooper 2nd, Jenna Makgill 1st, Rebecca Lawson 3rd
Results can be downloaded here…