In muddy race conditions you just have to "crack on and enjoy it".

That's Glenn Haden's theory and it worked today as he cruised to victory in the long course race during the second round of Rotorua's Winter MTB Series.

The Whanganui rider finished the 35km race in 1h 38m 54s, ahead of Palmerston North duo Max Taylor (1h 39m 43s) and Caleb Bottcher (1h 40m 19s).

Haden finished fourth in the first round on July 1, but adapted better to the wet conditions to take the win in round two.

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It was tough day in the forest with Rotorua's Garth Weinberg making a taco out of his wheel. Photo/Ben Fraser
It was tough day in the forest with Rotorua's Garth Weinberg making a taco out of his wheel. Photo/Ben Fraser

"That was awesome today, they marked out a really good course with a lot of climbing and a little bit of technical stuff, but the rain made it super-challenging. That really changes the dynamic and it was fantastic. You just have to dress up warm and enjoy it."

He said a group of six or seven riders were together at the beginning of the race, but when he saw an opportunity he took it.

"We were together up the first climb, then we got to a real pinchy, slippery technical bit and I just did a little attack there. I got some good traction, got a gap and then that was it. I did have Max not far behind me on the main direct road climb so I knew he wasn't far back, I just had to keep it smooth from there and keep the gap.

Mary Gray (right) took out second place in the women's race while Sarah Haddon got third. Photo/Ben Fraser
Mary Gray (right) took out second place in the women's race while Sarah Haddon got third. Photo/Ben Fraser

"I did this whole series in 2016, but only came up for one round last year. Hopefully, if all the stars align, I can get the third round done and complete the series. This was my first race win, I think I had three second places in 2016, Edwin Crossling was dealing to me that year."

Haden said crossing the line in first place was "a good feeling".

"It changes your mindset, when you're in second or third there seems to be so much more pain going through your legs, but when you're leading you're fueling on that pain, you love it."

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In the women's long course race, it looked like defending champion Josie Wilcox was cruising towards another victory. However, she accidentally took a wrong turn which disqualified her from placing.

That disqualification meant Rotorua rider Mary Gray's time of 2h 9m 46s was enough for first place. The result puts her in a handy position going into the third round, after finishing second in round one.

Not far behind Gray were Manawatu riders Sarah Haddon (2h 10m 52s) and Kym Skerman (2h 15m 39s).

Winter MTB Series - round two results
Long Course winners
Men: Glenn Haden (1h 38m 54s)
Women: Mary Gray (2h 9m 46s)

Mid Course winners
Men: Jack Naish (1h 10m 53s)
Women: Sammie Maxwell (1h 20m 01s)

Short Course winners
Men: Coen Nicol (50m 13s)
Women: Seana Gray (53m 31s)

Long Course E Bike winner
Tim Carey (1h 40m 10s)