Pic: Steve Gurney 1999. The ‘History’ Peak to Peak.
New Zealand’s longest running winter multi sport event is approaching its 23rd year celebration. Over this period the race has seen the best of the New Zealand multisport athletes race from the Remarkables to Coronet Peak.
The original concept developed, in 1994, was for the race to connect the then new Remarkables ski field with the town, the winter festival and then to continue to Coronet Peak.
The course has remained unchanged since the original concept with racers departing from high on the top of the Remarkables with the finish line in sight across the valley. A 2km ski down the Homeward Bound ski run, followed by a 17km mountain bike ride down the Remarkables access road. Once at Frankton Beach racers paddled 7km to Queenstown Bay and then ran to the old Arthur's Point hotel to change over for the ride up Coronet Peak. Well the Arthurs Point Hotel is no longer and the race transition had grown too big for this site, so before the demise of the hotel the transition was shifted to the Coronet Alpine Hotel.
The original race attracted a small field of contestants by today’s standards. Just under 100 competitors in total across all the teams and individuals. The following year, 1995 this had risen to 30 teams and 27 individuals and the winner that year was a now local, Steve Gurney, followed by then R & R Sport shop owner, Haydn Key. The women's division was won by then Invercargill and now local Sue Carnahan.
Over the 20 years of racing we have since all the who’s who of multisport racing to try and take the title of Peak to Peak champion. In the first year, 1994 it was Ian Edmond and Jacinda Amey who stood on top of the podium. In the subsequent years names like Bernice Lepper, Richard Ussher, Rachel Baron, Erin Greene and Mark Williams were seen on the top step.
A couple athletes deserve mention - Bill Godsal and Chris Dagg. Chris Dagg has now competed in 20+ years of the Peak to Peak and been in the winning team on more than one occasion, while Bill Godsall has only skied 20 times in his life - one run a year over the past twenty-three years, on Peak to Peak day.
The event was part of the original Winter Festival’s and the first sponsors of the event were the Mount Cook Line, the then owners of the two ski fields. This association with now nzski has continued for the whole 23 years and the input of the two ski fields has contributed a lot to the success of the race. On the Remarkables the event touches many of the ski area staff, from the restaurant, the ski patrol and the vital input from the road crew who ensure at the road is cleared for the racers. The Coronet side includes the bus division, the car parking, the restaurant, ski patrol and race department.
Other naming sponsors over the year have included Meadow Fresh, Southern Lakes Helicopters, element and The North Face.
Individuals race the entire event, but the more than 70 teams can be made up of two to five people. These teams race in many different divisions, from groups of friends out for a social fun day, to the serious teams racing for honours in the open division, or business house teams competing for that trophy.
There is also a division for school teams and in the past school teams have places as high as third overall.
Geoff Hunt from Southern Traverse “It is fantastic that the event continues to get great support from the local racers and also from the multisport champions of the country. I am looking forward to the event this year and seeing all the old faces out to enjoy the event again.
The race is scheduled this year for the 13th Aug and is sponsored by Torpedo7