It was an exciting finish to Day 2 of the Urge 3 Peaks Enduro held on Signal Hill, Dunedin, New Zealand, as the Enduro World Series (EWS) riders made their intentions clear by extending their respective leads in both the men’s and women’s overall results today.
Joseph Nation of Christchurch, took out the overall with a final time of 44 minutes and 56 seconds, while Dunedin local, Leighton Kirk (23), took second place in a time of 46.06. Queenstown’s Jimmy Pollard bounced back from a thumb injury to round out the podium with third overall in his first race back.
In the women’s field, Rae Morrison (26), of Paraparaumu, had no problems securing her first win for this event, storming through in a time of 52.07 with a perfect six stage wins from six. Masters’ competitor Jo Perrott, of Nelson, was Morrison’s nearest rival, coming in just over five minutes behind with Junior rider Phoebe Coers, of Wanaka, coming through in 59.06 for third.
Event director and Olympian Kashi Leuchs, of Dunedin, said he was stoked with the success of this year’s event and he was delighted to add another top edition to the New Zealand mountain bike calendar.
Leuchs was relieved to announce that there were no major injuries, which is certainly a feat considering the gnarly tracks included into this event.
“I chose to include a range of tracks, with simpler tracks on Day 1 and some steep and off-camber trails down Signal Hill for Day 2,” he said as he proudly described Dunedin’s mountain bike trail offerings.
The top placed riders were pleased with the weekends’ racing and felt that this event helped them in their preparations for the upcoming EWS series. Winner of Day 1 and 2 with fours stage wins across the event, Nation, told us that the weekend had boosted his confidence for the upcoming season.
“Today was good, I managed to almost stay on the bike all day until the last stage,” he confessed. “I was a bit worried about the first stage today as it was full on downhill, it was slick, tough conditions. I did clip a few trees, but was glad to make it down that one and keep the momentum going throughout the day.”
Nation will use this race to propel him into his international season while aboard the Endura Bergamont Factory Team.
“I’m looking forward to traveling overseas again this year and hopefully moving up the rankings, but it’s good to come to races like these as they give you confidence to know the fitness is still up there and I’m starting from a good base,” said Nation who is ranked 24th in the world.
Dunedin local, Kirk, followed Nation into second place, climbing his way up the rankings to improve his overall position from Day 1 – taking the win for the final stage.
“It was a good day out. I felt pretty good – some parts I felt I wasn’t getting anywhere in the mud and rocks, but was pretty happy with how everything went,” said a happy Kirk.
Third place was taken out by Pollard, who had a few incidents on the track due to an enduring thumb injury, however he was happy with the day’s riding.
“I had a few niggly spills and a few bad line choices here and there, but it was good to have a nice run for the last one. The crowd in Dunedin is sensational, every time you come here there is always a massive crowd and someone is waving a chainsaw in your face – that definitely makes you take it up a gear,” laughed Pollard.
The women’s winner, Morrison, rolled straight into Day 2 of racing, with her first ride down Signal Hill being her favourite one, albeit her first descent on the this track.
“I started the day by riding some jumps up the top section and then riding into the trees things got slippery,” she smiles. “Riding a track blind is always fun – you’re always on your game and always looking ahead.”
“I had a lot of fun slipping and sliding and it was a lot better conditions than I thought it would be. I had a really good first run as it was downhill orientated and I could find my flow,” Morrison shares.
The din of the crowd on the final stage was absolutely booming. The race atmosphere seems to build each year at this event. Top seed, Nation, didn’t disappoint with his only crash of the weekend happening in front of the packed crowd.
“The crowd was amazing towards the bottom of the last run, so I opened it up and crashed 30 seconds before the finish,” he laughs. “I just didn’t know where I was going, but was stoked to get down and at least the crowd could see the crash.”
For Morrison, the crowd gave her the boost of energy she needed to ensure her win.
“I really enjoyed the challenge of the off-camber sections – especially with the crowds down the last bit. They were so cool and it was nice to have so many people lining the track and cheering,” said an elated Morrison.
With the packed crowd lining the tracks and plenty of smiles on riders’ faces, this event has certainly solidified itself as one of New Zealand’s best.
“The concept of the whole weekend of racing is something that strengthens the relationships between the riders. They get to spend the day with their friends and meeting new riders – especially on the second day where they are nice and relaxed,” said an elated Leuchs.