Stunning scenery puts gleam on the Nugget's hard yards

By Vicki Woolley

Paddy Clapham (left) and the Waihi Trade Night crew support Kevin Pennell (second left) across the line with a broken fibula. Photo / Bay Technology
Paddy Clapham (left) and the Waihi Trade Night crew support Kevin Pennell (second left) across the line with a broken fibula. Photo / Bay Technology

It took a few beers to get Paddy Clapham signed up. Now the 28-year-old Waihi engineer thinks twice about having a few beers as he ramps up his training for the Nugget Multisport Festival.

Three years ago, Clapham started going to Trade Night, a regular get-together in Waihi for tradesmen. Ostensibly some 'blokey' project such as welding a few bike racks together would be on the agenda before getting down to the serious business of beer and banter.

The Trade Night crew had a card up their sleeve for 'lad about town' Clapham. In 2014, they cobbled together two teams of four to enter their hometown race, the Nugget Multisport Festival. With equal parts hilarity and competitiveness, the teams biked, kayaked and ran their way around the 78km course.

Something of a precedent was set. Trade Night cyclist Kevin Pennell came a cropper during the 23km mountain bike.

Despite enormous pain, Pennell pushed on. The event finished with a 2km team run, and with his mates half-carrying him, Pennell crossed the line with a broken fibula.

"I was just able to push the pain aside and focus on completing it. I kept thinking, 'Just grit your teeth and carry on.' The big thing for me was having us all complete what we started - I don't like to leave things unfinished."

Clapham was roped into one of the Trade Night teams. As the lightest of the lads, he was nominated to complete the run leg. The bug bit deep and he returned with Trade Night in 2015. Firmly hooked, Clapham will take on the Full Monty solo multisport at this year's event: 33km of road cycling, a 10km kayak, 10km trail run and 21km mountain bike, finishing with the 2km run that so aggrieved Pennell.

Clapham confesses signing up for the Full Monty wasn't entirely his idea.

"Bularangi Holiday Rentals offered to pay the entry fee and my Trade Night buddies had the entry form ready after I'd had a few beers. One day I wasn't doing it; the next, I was fully committed," he smiles.

Despite the inauspicious entry, Clapham has targeted a time of under five hours to complete the 78km course, relying on fitness and local knowledge to get him over the line.

"I'm a really active guy, I hardly ever sit down and I'm busy all the time. And I know the area pretty well as I've lived here most of my life."

A top-10 age-group finish could be within Clapham's reach if recent form is anything to go by. He completed a training run over the arduous 10km coastal section in under an hour.

The Nugget Multisport course has been touted as one of the most picturesque in the country. Quiet country roads take competitors out to the spectacular harbour and glistening Waihi Beach. A remote rocky coastal path dips into Orokawa and Homunga Bays before turning on to private farmland and single-track.

With a carnival atmosphere at the finish, competitors run the pit rim of cavernous Martha Mine to break the tape in the shadow of Waihi's historic Cornish Pumphouse.

Clapham has only recently begun training on the mountain bike and kayak but is confident his mind will be firmly on the job, insisting the environment is a boost rather than a distraction.

"When you're out there exercising in such a stunning environment, you hardly notice any discomfort.

"It's pure pleasure. I'm pretty confident that I can complete the race, but I guess I'll be winging it a bit on the day."


Nugget Festival
What: Multisport race, duathlon and trail walk/runs
When: Next Saturday, May 7
Where: Waihi, Southern Coromandel
For more information: www.thenugget.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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