In search of Peak achievers

By LAWRENCE GULLERY


The Triple Peaks will be held in March and this year will be run in reverse where competitors will be climbing Te Mata Peak, Mt Kahuranaki and then Mt Erin, creating a new challenge.

Kahuranaki is the longest leg, 21kms, mostly a climb and arguably the hardest. Mt Erin has a sharp, short climb and the majority of it is then downhill and competitors will face the solid climb of Te Mata to begin the race.

Organisers are looking to break the 1000 competitor number for this year's race and are in particular aiming for more secondary school pupils to generate interest in the following New Zealand Secondary Schools Adventure Racing Championships in April.

The Anglican Bishop of Waipu, David Rice, raced the Triple Peaks for the first time in 2011 and will return in 2012 with his brother from the US. David Tait was 19 years old when he signed up to run the Triple Peaks Challenge which at the time appeared to be "one of those wildly crazy things to do".

"I had done a 10-kilometre run before but it was my first time doing something 47km, it was off the road and just had all the characteristics of a real adventure race," he said.

"For weeks afterwards, I just remembered being filled with satisfaction that I had gone out and done it and it was the start of a desire that led on to other adventure races, like the Coast to Coast which I've done three times."

Mr Tait completed the Triple Peaks Challenge a total of seven times during the event's 24-year history. He competed three times as a runner, three times as a biker and once running as part of a team.

"Every challenge was different, I think the first I completed was the most satisfying while the second one was about the fun factor because of the riding factor which really hit it," he said.

Nowadays, Mr Tait is the event director of the Triple Peaks and he has organised the race for the past four years, now under the Kiwi Adventure Trust which is based in Ahuriri.

Kiwi Adventure was founded in 1997 and became a charitable trust in 2010, aiming to support the development of young people through outdoor education activities.

Its Ahuriri base included a "climbing gym" featuring a climbing wall for abseiling which this week has been used by young competitors in town for the OptiWorlds sailing event in Napier.

The Triple Peaks is one of three key events the trust organises each year. The other two are the GO-4-12, which was the New Zealand Secondary Schools Adventure Racing Championships in April, and the Cape Kidnappers Challenge in November.

"What we're trying to do now is consolidate all our programmes here in Hawke's Bay, and encourage other organisations from around the country to come to our region to take part in our activities," Mr Tait said.

He said the trust's programmes had helped many people move on to careers and later, return as adults, to compete in events, especially The Triple Peaks.

"There are quite a few I can think of, especially through mountain biking and running, who are still competing at a high level.

"For the young ones, it's about setting goals, going through the process of training for an event, learning life lessons during the event," Mr Tait said.

The trust was looking for new board members to ensure its longevity. "We're looking for people with experience in business and governance, and of course those who have a passion for the outdoors," Mr Tait said.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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