How do you beat Josie Wilcox?
That is the question on everyone's lips after the Manawatu mountain biker won her second successive Whaka100 mountain bike marathon yesterday.
While softly spoken and humble during post-race interviews, get her on two wheels and Wilcox is fiercely competitive. Her time of 5h 53m 32s smashed the course record she set last year by almost 20 minutes and she was more than an hour ahead of Auckland's Tanya Sharp (6h 56m 57s) in second place.
Wilcox said the race was hard work, on a hot day, but she "loved it".
"It means so much, I train really hard and it's good to see the hard work pay off."
Being so far ahead of the other women, she often finds herself racing with the men, but she enjoyed the challenge.
"It was great to race with the guys and we kind of shared time at the front because it was quite windy around by the Blue Lake.
"I did a lot of climbing [in preparation for the Whaka100]. I did a lot of long rides back-to-back and I've got the Pioneer [Mountain Bike Race] coming up in November so I've been doing a lot of long, six-hour plus days," she said.
In the men's race it was Oamaru's Tim Rush who came out on top, finishing first in 5h 10m 56s. Whakatane's Brad Jones was second in 5h 17m 2s and Rotorua's Sam Shaw, fresh off the back of his Enduro World Series campaign, was third in 5h 25m 19s.
While Jones and Shaw have plenty of experience riding Rotorua trails, remarkably, Rush had never been on them before his course record-breaking ride yesterday.
"At the start I felt amazing, I love the tracks, and then about 50km in I started thinking 'this is hurting the legs a bit'. I was happy to see the finish.
"About three months ago me and my brother, we'd never been here, so we decided to come and do it. We had a bet to see who could do the best."
Despite breaking the course record, Rush said he could have gone faster if he had not been so cautious on the downhills.
"I was just trying to get it home and be safe, the other boys were so much better technically than me, but I made it up with some good climbing.
"The first bit was really good, the scenery was really nice and I just set a good pace and tempo. I really enjoyed the first climb, I got a good gear and made sure I didn't blow up too much.
"I ran out of water with about 30km left, but we got there," he said.
Whaka100 Top Three
1st Tim Rush 5h 10m 56s
2nd Brad Jones 5h 17m 2s
3rd Sam Shaw 5h 25m 19s
1st Josie Wilcox 5h 53m 32s
2nd Tanya Sharp 6h 56m 57s
3rd Imi Blance 7h 5m 4s