Making innovative changes to events can take time, investment, some head-scratching and boldness.
The story starts in 2002 when Dean Watson launched Nduro Events. This really raised the bar on event management and type of mountain bike events in Rotorua and New Zealand with a three race Winter Series, 24 hour of Nduro and the first Whaka 100 in 2007.
This combined technical singletrack, big climbs and tricky and sometimes, treacherous forest roads to create an epic, single lap of the forest. I rode tail end charlie on race day, not covering the whole 100 kilometres, but my legs were still jelly for a a week.
Fast forward to last Labour Weekend to the most recent Whaka 100.
In 2014, Tim and Belinda Farmer took over Nduro Events and have incrementally raised the bar even higher, as well as adding some very clever new touches.
One of those is the Whaka 100 Rotorua Izusu Time Trial and Top 10 Men's and Women's Shoot-out the day before to determine seeding for the big race, itself.
A brilliant idea and adding quite a bit to an already heavy workload for the team. The Whaka 100 is a very long day for riders and a lot longer for the great crew who wrangle it (along with all the set up and post race wrap).
To compound that degree of difficulty, Tim decided it was time to pull the trigger on something he's been discussing with local TV producer, Simon Hunt from Fever Pitch Visuals for a few years — streaming multi-camera coverage of the Time Trial on the internet.
The decision to green light this was made just over a week before the event. Boldness — and with some head-scratching to figure exactly how to do it and how to pay for it.
Tim got in touch with the sponsors of individual stages on the course and all of them jumped in to help cover the cost in a nanosecond. Camera placement was sorted — at the Famously Rotorua Corkscrew, Giant Bicycles Log Roll, Electrical Solutions Alley, MB3 Sprint, the BDO Rotorua Cutting and CamelBak Splash.
Around the time Tim was talking to sponsors, Simon got in touch with me to see if I could help with vision switching and direction. I took the same amount of time to say yes as the sponsors did. And a nanosecond after that to wonder if that was the right call. I spent a lot of a prevous life calling live multi-camera shows at TVNZ. However, the last time was in 1994.
There were a few nerves on the day. However, with Simon sitting next to me in the FPV Outside Broadcast van, they soon settled. This was helped by some superb work by presenters, Philly Angus and Tristan Haycock, and excellent race organisation by the Nduro team to make sure the event ran very smoothly.
I had forgotten how tiring three straight hours straight of total concentration can be. The adrenaline rush and sense of satisfaction made up for that. Roll on 2019.