As the Karapoti’s longest-running sponsor, Cactus was proud to be the main sponsor at this year’s event.

Established in 1986, the Karapoti Classic is the Southern Hemisphere’s longest-running mountain bike event. Located just outside Wellington in the Akatarawa ranges, the Karapoti’s 50km course incorporates river crossings, steep climbs and technical descents all set among native forest. The classic Lemans style start sees competitors straight into the infamous Akatarawa River crossing, with depths often between waist and shoulder height depending on rainfall. Just the way to wake the body up before tackling one of the first gut-busting climbs.

Previous years of hot, sunny and settled February weather were not to be as racers were greeted with gloomy, rainy and muddy conditions for what was going to be an exciting event. The average weather seen the usual turnout of 800+ racers dwindle to 600 hearty racers to brave the start line for the mad dash across the cool Akatarawa River and then into the gruelling 50km course.

As usual, the 2017 Cactus Karapoti Classic was not without drama, with many racers suffering from mechanicals and crashes due to the adverse trail conditions. Among finishers for the 50k Challenge included Lucy Jurke and Emily Hannah, aged 11, the youngest ever finishers in the events 32-year history, well done!

With a stacked field of riders from over 8 countries, the men and women’s overall winners included Kyle Ward, one of Australia’s top riders, and NZ’s own Samara Sheppard finishing just shy of the women’s course record at a time of 2hrs 42min (impressive given the conditions).

Another event for the day included the Cactus 5K Kids Challenge which saw over 100 under 11’s tackle a muddy course with multiple river crossings. A great introduction into mountain bike racing for the youngsters, proving they were tough enough to turn up and have a blast on what was a great event regardless of the weather.

Event information, results and post-race report available here.