New race records and a record turnout from a record number of countries marked the 22nd edition of the Scott Karapoti Classic.
As the southern hemisphere's longest-running mountain bike event, Upper Hutt's Karapoti Classic has been happening since 1986. Commonwealth Games representatives Clinton Avery and Jennifer Smith lined up as favourites for the 50km test through the Akatarawa Ranges, but facing strong fields, no one expected them to dominate quite like they did.
Avery rode a collection of New Zealand, American, and Australian riders off his wheel until eventually he finished 10 minutes ahead of Australian Nic Both, but had no idea that he'd achieved anything other than his first Karapoti title. In fact, he'd won in a record-breaking time of 2 hours and 14 minutes. "The track didn't seem any faster than last year," he said. "I was feeling good and was going better on the climbs than last year, so I just went for it. But I didn't expect to go that fast."
Jennifer Smith (Trek/VW) said she wasn't quite expecting what happened at Karapoti either. She had raced there before, finishing second to Commonwealth Games medallist Susy Pryde four years previously. This year, the Kiwi-born runner-turned mountain biker out-classed New Zealand's best women to claim her first Karapoti title by almost four minutes. The West Coast native smashed the 13-year-old woman's record set by endurance sport legend Kathy Lynch by more than two minutes, stopping the clock at 2 hours 47 minutes and 35 seconds.
Like Avery, Smith had no idea what she'd achieved. "Really," she exclaimed upon hearing her time. "That's amazing. I knew I was winning, but I had no idea how fast I was riding."
To view the full race report, photos, and results, click here.