The MTB National Championships are on this weekend in Wellington. Six National titles are up for grabs, and adding spice to the mix of competitors taking on the champs is World BMX Champion and 2008 Olympian Sarah Walker.
Kawerau's Walker will compete in the Friday evening Four Cross feature, and also in the Downhill event which is a slight departure from her steady diet of BMX circuit racing around the world. Walker joins her brother Matt who specialises in these two disciplines—Matt is also a current NZ MTB Team Four Cross representative. The Walker siblings are sure to enjoy some rare time together in the same sport at this pinnacle event, and it will be fascinating to see how the Elite Womens racing unfolds with an athlete of Sarah's calibre injected into the mix.
This Championship event is the one domestic event on New Zealand's MTB calendar where internationally recognised National Champions are crowned. All of New Zealand's top athletes will be competing in Dual Slalom, Four Cross, Cross Country, Downhill, Short Track Cross Country and Hillclimb disciplines vying for these titles a well as important New Zealand MTB Team selection ranking points. As added incentive again this year, the U19 Junior and U23/Elite category winners in Four Cross, Cross Country and Downhill disciplines all gain automatic selection to the New Zealand MTB Team for the 2010 World MTB Champs, so the stakes are high.
The National MTB Champs programme also kicks off the 25 year New Zealand Mountain Bike Festival which runs through to next Saturday, March 6th with the running of the 25th edition of the Karapoti Classic, combined this year with the 2010 Marathon MTB Championships. In between the National MTB Champs this weekend, and the Karapoti next weekend is a week filled with fun events and social MTB gatherings celebrating the sport in New Zealand.
National Championships Events Schedule Friday February 26th - has Dual Slalom and Four Cross racing at Mt. Albert, Wellington from 2pm.
Saturday February 27th - has Cross Country racing on Mt. Victoria, with the event base at the cycling velodrome in Hataitai. Age group categories are on a 10.30am race start, and U19 Juniors and U23/Elite categories on a 2pm race start.
Sunday February 28th - has Downhill racing at Long Gully, Brooklyn. Seeding starts at 11am, with the race run starting at 1.30pm
Sunday February 28th - also has Short Track Cross Country racing at the Downhill event base at Long Gully between 12.30pm and 1.30pm.
Monday March 1st - has the Hillclimb event taking place at 12.30 up Mt. Victoria, with the event base on the town side of the Mt. Victoria Tunnel.
Saturday March 6th - has the running of the NZ Marathon MTB Championships in conjunction with the 25th Karapoti Classic.