Wanaka athlete crowned 25thPeak to Peak supreme winner

By Geoff Hunt

Stunning bluebird weather greeted competitors at the 25thannual Torpedo7 Peak to Peak multisport race Saturday.

A field of almost 400 competitors, a mix of individuals, mixed teams and school teams skied, biked, kayaked and ran their way from The Remarkables to Coronet Peak (Queenstown). 

Wanaka athlete Joanna Williams was the first individual female competitor across the line. It was her sixth win at the event making her the “most winning person” of any division in the event’s 25-year-history – an accolade Race Director Geoff Hunt highlighted at the awards ceremony at Coronet Peak. 

Joanna said; “I’m a big supporter of this event, it’s a great race especially when you have beautiful conditions like today.”

“I entered to ‘shock’ me into training for other events… but it’s been hard when the snow has been so good to go running, biking and paddling!” 

The multi-sport athlete is due to compete in the Adventure Racing World Championship in Reunion Island later this year alongside Peak to Peak individual male winner Chris Forne. Chris was a late entry into this year’s event, crossing the finish line ahead of Rueben Thompson and three-time Peak to Peak champion Hamish Flemming. 

“I knew it would be a close race and I’m a little bit surprised,” said Chris. 

“But that’s part of the fun, these races are always a bit unexpected because you don’t know what sort of training everyone’s done. But it’s always laid back with a great atmosphere.” 

The 44km race began with competitors skiing or snowboarding down the Outward Bound run at The Remarkables, followed by a 17km mountain bike ride down the access road to Frankton Beach.
Competitors then paddled 7km across a calm Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown Bay, ran 9km to the Swiss-Belresort hotel Arthurs Point and cycled 9km up to the Coronet Peak base building to finish on the snow. 

Race director Geoff Hunt has organised and run the event since its inception as part of the Queenstown Winter Festival back in 1993. The event was moved to August to provide a fun mid-winter event for multi-sport athletes but has otherwise remained “almost exactly the same.” 

“It’s the perfect training programme for athletes gearing up for longer events like the World Series and the Coast to Coast,” says Geoff. 

“There’s always a nice atmosphere with friendly rivalry between individuals and teams challenging each other each year - this year’s event was no different. The weather couldn’t have been better and the feedback has been really positive. 

“The school teams and mixed teams bring a whole new element to the race, as it introduces competitors to multi-sport one leg at a time and it hooks you into the sport. Joanne Williams first did the Peak to Peak as part of a business team – now she’s won more races than any other competitor in the race’s history. You never know, maybe there’s another champion in the making in this year’s teams category.” 
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