Whaka 100's Pick of the Pack

By Nduro Events

With Whaka 100 looming on the horizon, we caught up with our pick of the pack for the title race.

Unabashedly claiming itself as “one of the toughest”, this year’s Whaka 100 has cranked the toughness up a notch further by making the most of the ever evolving Redwoods trail network and including some new treats on the way to its huge one-day hit of Whakawerawera Forest goodness.

Event Director, Tim Farmer, was determined to push the vertical ascent as close to 4,000m as possible and the end result is a course of 104 kilometres with 3,899m of climbing. Here’s our low down of who to watch at the pointy end of the field.
Sam Gaze. Credit Alick Saunders

The men’s race is set to be an epic battle of champions. Defending Whaka 100 Champion and newly crowned U23 XCO World Champion, Sam Gaze will be sure to set a blistering pace from the gun. Don’t be fooled by his XCO roots either, this young charger took Alban Lakata down to the line after a long day out in the saddle at a Marathon World Series event on German soil earlier this year. The young charger just fell short in the sprint finish but pushed the rainbow-jersey-clad Lakata every inch of the way. Gaze is sure to enjoy being back on home turf in the Redwoods and has to be the top pick for man of the match.

However, Gaze won’t have it his own way. Wellington’s Ed Crossling is chomping at the bit to go one better than he did when he finished runner up in 2011 and 2015. Crossling says he is “looking forward to the chance to ride 100km completely off road with the majority on world class singletrack” and is known for his technical prowess having dabbled in the dark art of Enduro but also has a strong engine for long days in the saddle. He’s a solid all-rounder with every chance in fighting for the top spot aboard his newly built full sus steed.

The Kiwis will also need to be on guard for an Australian assault in the form of Jason English. A recent article on English dubbed him “the best Australian cyclist you’ve never heard of” and the modest man from Port Macquarie has more championship titles to his name than most people have had hot dinners, including seven World 24 Hour Champion, eight Australian National 24 Hour Champion and two Australian XC Marathon Champion titles. Like Crossling, English is excited about the “sheer volume of singletrack” and says that “24 hours of racing in the Redwoods just wasn’t enough” after his trip to the Land of the Long White Cloud when Rotorua hosted the World 24 Hour Championships, from which he (of course) emerged victorious.
Jason English isn’t the only Aussie making the trip across the ditch for the Whaka 100 and will be joined by elite XC racer, Karen Hill, who recently returned home after stage racing in Timor. Hill admits she holds some trepidation about the task in hand for the Whaka 100 but says that she’s excited to ride “new trails in rad locations while testing out her ‘work from anywhere’ business model”. The rest of the women’s field shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security and should expect that the full-time nutritionist is unlikely to be hanging around to dish out advice trailside as Hill is sure to push the pace on the Whaka 100’s long sustained climbs.
Multi-time World Marathon Championships representative, Jeanette Gerrie, is also sure to be in the mix in the race for top honours. Gerrie is familiar with donning the fern for marathon events and is well known for her climbing prowess. Having previously claimed the polka dot jersey at the Tour de Vineyards on the road, she is sure to push hard for the Cowbell Coaching QOM prizemoney decided over two timed sections totaling over 6 kilometres of uphill grinding. Gerrie just missed out on the women’s Whaka 100 podium last year with a fourth place after a challenging day out and is looking forward to settling the score with the race while lapping up Rotorua’s premier trails.
Finally, Upper Hutt’s fastest doctor, Kim Hurst will be one to watch on game day. She suffered a heavy crash while out training in Moab 3 months ago and has been determinedly focused on the defence of her Whaka 100 champion title throughout her rehabilitation back from a pelvic fracture. Hurst loves marathon events and will want to add another Whaka 100 to her list of achievements, which include holding the women’s Karapoti course record. “Whaka 100 is one of my favourite Kiwi events, it’s the sort of race that as soon as I finish it I start counting down to the next time I can race it”, she says claiming that Whaka 100 is “definitely the hardest course in New Zealand right now”. Hurst finished 21st overall in last year’s event and wants to claim a top 20 finish this year, so watch out fellas.
In addition to these six racers, Whaka 100 will have 400 mountain bikers battling for the honours of completing “one of the toughest” races in the country. The event weekend kicks off on Saturday 22nd October with the Whaka Shootout TT, a short punchy effort over a fast 2 kilometre circuit, which provides the racers with a perfect tune up and treats the spectators to plenty of action, ahead of the Whaka 100 on Sunday 23rd October. Check out for all the details.
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