Sam Blenkinsop has made it five in a row at a scorching and physical 2019 Dodzy Memorial Enduro.
Despite showing blistering speed on all three stages, Blenkinsop didn’t quite crack the half hour mark, finishing in 31 minutes 09 seconds.
High fire risk caused a stressful week for the organisers of the annual event, which celebrates the life of mountain biking legend James “Dodzy” Dodds, who was tragically killed in a hunting accident in 2012. The first DME ran in January 2013.
The event, known for its social vibe and technical riding, was given the go ahead under a strict fire plan which saw water tankers and volunteer firefighters waiting on site and no spectators for practice day.
This year’s course started with an exhausting full run down from the highest point of the park to the valley floor, made more challenging by the relentless heat and loose, dusty tracks.
The afternoon took racers on an adventure through the rooty delights of Alaskan Pipeline and Pro Cut Line before finishing with a fast and flowing final stage which was a welcome relief for weary bodies.
Blenkinsop said it was some of the hardest conditions he has raced in at the Wairoa on the most physical course run to date.
“All the dry stuff kind of blew out then it was all in the bottom of the turns so you just wash out, you had to use so much more energy because of that.”
He said he always seemed to go well on longer stages and was feeling “pretty fresh” at the end of his 17 minute top-to-bottom run.
Blenkinsop said its was cool to have a race which kept Dodzy’s legacy alive.
Following on from Blenkinsop was Keegan Wright, who finished in 31:59. Christchurch's Charlie Murray took third in 32:05.
Raewyn Morrison was too quick for the women's field, wrapping up the course in 37:19, ahead of Anja McDonald in 39:01. Melanie Blomfield slotted into third in 40:50.
Morrison said the DME was one of her favourite events and she was thrilled to take the win.
"The atmosphere is fun and relaxed, the trails are world class, the location and views are stunning and it’s for an amazing cause in the memory of a mountain bike legend."
Race organiser Nick Crocker said he was thrilled the event, which sells out in minutes, was still so well received seven years in.
"People are so stoked on the vibe of the event, it’s all about Dodzy and who he was and what he meant to us."
Crocker said the fire risk was a big hurdle to get through at the start of the week, with people travelling from around the country, but they pulled off a plan with support from Fire and Emergency NZ.
Stage two was in memory of the late Mark Dunlop, a DME regular who had a contagious love of bikes and racing.
Secretive American-born billionaire Ken Dart is in the process of donating the 860-hectare Wairoa Gorge to the Crown.
Dart bought the land in 2010 through his company RHL Holdings and had more than $19 million worth of trails built through the mixed native beech and plantation pine forest.