Crankworx Rotorua got underway with the Giant Toa Enduro on Saturday. Rotorua Daily Post sports reporter David Beck spent the day in the race control vehicle to get an idea of the work that goes on behind the scenes to make the event run smoothly.

If the Giant Toa Enduro was a puppet, race controllers Tim Farmer and Josh Quartermaine would be the puppet masters, pulling the strings to ensure all the different limbs worked together in unison.

Along with a group of dedicated employees and volunteers they have spent hours and hours in the days leading up to the event clearing the course, putting up tape, working out where each marshal should stand and making sure everyone knows their own individual job.

On the morning of race day the race vehicle is filled with a frenetic energy, Farmer and Quartermaine are confident, they've done this plenty of times before, but you can tell they are eager for things to get underway.


Quartermaine describes their role as "the fire brigade", they spend the day on high alert, ready to "put out fires" - deal with any issues that may arise. The walkie talkie is their best friend and communication with other members of their team throughout the day is constant.

We head to the beginning of stage one, where the first group of riders, the masters, are gathered, ready to get underway.

Number one seed in the masters division Jeff Carter, who owns Southstar Shuttles, goes through some last minute stretches as he tells me how he feels at this point in the day.

"There's definitely butterflies in the stomach, I'm trying to think about my memory of the stage, the video reel of the stage in your head and remember where the tight corners are, the bits you need to lay off the brakes and the bits you need to pedal.

"It's definitely an advantage to know the trails and know the network, how long it takes to do each climb. Some guys don't want to pay for a day out in the forest that we ride in all the time, but you're sort of paying for the timing and the excitement and the camaraderie of riding in an event like this," Carter said.

Vaea Verbeeck finished third in the Giant Toa Enduro. Photo / Fraser Britton/Crankworx
Vaea Verbeeck finished third in the Giant Toa Enduro. Photo / Fraser Britton/Crankworx

Once the first lot of riders are on their way without issue we are back in the race vehicle, heading to stage two where some extra tape needs to be put up. Communications continue throughout, ensuring marshals are in place and everyone knows exactly what point the racing is at.

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Farmer said once the race had started the job became a lot easier, depending on how the day progressed.

"From there it's basically trouble shooting any problems. You have to be dynamic in how you react to things, there's no set standard. It's important to have a team of people who understand the level of communication you're at, it's a very resource-hungry event and you're nothing without a team.

"The highlight is seeing people enjoy it, we get a lot of joy out of seeing the spectators enjoy the event," he said.

As the day progresses we move from stage to stage observing what is happening and keeping everyone on track.

The highlight for me is the attitude of the riders. It's something I've noticed frequently at mountain biking events, they all just love it. They have a laugh between stages, analyse the stage they've just completed and how they could have done it better. They are all their to compete, but they do so in great spirits.

I'm well aware that the insight I received on race day was just a small glimpse of the months of work that go into these events. If nothing else it is something to think about and appreciate while soaking up everything Crankworx has on offer this week.