Day 1 of the Urge 3 Peaks Enduro in Dunedin, New Zealand, has seen two Enduro World Series (EWS) athletes step up to the hot seat with Joseph Nation putting more than 40 seconds between himself and his closest rival and Rae Morrison extending out to more than a two-and-a-half-minute lead over nearest rival, Jo Perrott.
In typical Dunedin fashion the first day of the Urge 3 Peaks Enduro got off to a slippery start in squally weather conditions. The rain that had been predicted all week fell, but the trails soaked it up and there was only one major slippery section at the bottom of Stage 2.
The overall men’s result for Day 1 saw Endura Bergamont Factor Team rider Joseph Nation, of Christchurch, take the win with a time of 28 minutes 41 seconds, followed by Jimmy Pollard, of Queenstown, in 29.23. Remarkably there is only eight seconds difference between second to fifth place in the men's. In the women’s field, top seed Rae Morrison, of Paraparaumu, placed first with a time of 32.38, followed by Masters’ rider Jo Perrott, of Nelson, just under three minutes behind Morrison, Junior riders Phoebe Coers and Shannon Hope, both of Dunedin, finished the first day in just over 36 minutes
The first stage began at the top of Flagstaff, where riders raced down the high-speed track at warp speeds. For Nation, the eventual winner of the day, this was a physical challenge.
“I am just in the initial stages of my training for the season,” he offers. “So, was pretty happy with my fitness, but I’ve still got some way to go as well. Stage 1 had lots of pedaling which was hard work, but good to wake the body up,” Nation laughs. “Then the next stages were awesome fun and I managed to not make any major mistakes.
Hot favorite Pollard, was happy to end the day in second place overall as he is recovering from a broken thumb. Pollard, who races internationally, broke his thumb at the EWS in Whistler, Canada, in August. He has been off the bike since then and has only recently resumed his training.
“It took a while to come right – this is my first race back and I’m stoked to be riding again and having a lot of fun,” Pollard offers. With a physically demanding first section, Pollard felt that there was still room to improve his fitness for the upcoming season. “My fitness wasn’t there that’s for sure, I made some decisions because of my lack of fitness and had to hold back a bit, but still had a few small crashes.”
Trouble also followed professional racer, Morrison as her day was held up by a nail in her rear tyre on the start line of Stage 1, she decided to return back down the 15-minute liaison where another rider helped to plug her tyre before climbing back up to the start line. That cost Morrison a start among the faster riders at the front of the pack.
“There was quite a bit of congestion,” Morrison reveals. “I got held up a little bit – that was the only stage that I got held up on. I kept going after the stage – didn’t stop at all and quickly made it back to the start of the field for Stage 2.”
Despite the rough start, Morrison loved her day’s racing and was happy to take the lead. “I was absolutely stoked – it was fun at the top where the corners were quite gravelly and off-camber, so I was just drifting around,” she explains.
The riders will resume racing at 10am tomorrowmorning from the top of Signal Hill, in Dunedin. Race leader Nation said the Signal Hill stages would play into the hands of the locals – especially with the slippery conditions expected.
“Tomorrow will be a pretty even playing field,” he adds. “We have all ridden up Signal Hill a bit, but the local boys will be pretty quick.”
Spectators are encouraged to walk up the three stages of Day 2 from Logan Park High School and to enjoy the race atmosphere at the bottom of these iconic trails.