The NZ Enduro has become one of the most sought after non-EWS enduro races of the year, known for its access to wild and remote jungle and mountain singletrack and blind, multi-day stage-racing format. Organized by mountain bike royalty, Sven and Anka Martin, who live in Nelson, New Zealand, when they aren’t traveling all over the world shooting World Cup and EWS races (Sven) or leading women’s adventure ride camps (Anka), the race takes riders across the top of the South Island over three days, as it travels point-to-point from mountains to sea.
Day one brought 140 riders together in Whites Bay at the head of Marlborough Sounds, where they indulged in 18 kilometers of trail with 1,150 meters of climbing and descending. Two stages introduced riders to coastal singletrack in the New Zealand tropics, where recent rain made for treacherous riding. But riders survived, descending to the beachside finish for a barbecue and local beers before the longer days to follow.
Day one introduced riders to the race with pristine singletrack and an easy beachside lifestyle. Day two extinguished any beliefs that the race would continue as a leisurely social event. This was the infamous Nydia Track--one of New Zealand’s toughest point-to-point rides. Riders covered 35 kilometers over four stages, including three climbs totaling 1,162 meters of technical climbing. Most riders took more than 10 hours to finish. A spiderweb of thick roots and rocks blanketing the ground reluctantly yielded to riders, making the modest day’s numbers move slowly for everybody. Clear weather and tacky dirt had riders pushing their limits, with some pushing too far. A handful of riders had to pull out of the day early due to crashes and mechanicals, but luckily no major injuries.
Day three of the NZ Enduro relieved riders of any day-two woes. A helicopter shuttle kicked off the day’s 1,500 meters of descending and only 500 meters of climbing. Not without its struggles, the third day included a 45-minute hike-a-bike leading to a 12-minute stage of loamy descending through head-high ferns, snaking down the side of a mountain. The day finished with a wide-open speed section to a riverside staging area where beer and food were waiting.
Over the three days of riding, Keegan Wright, Mitch Ropelato and Joe Nation all found their way to stage wins, but it was Jerome Clementz who took home the overall win in the Pro Men category. Native New Zealander Sam Shaw took second place, just beating out fellow Kiwi Joe Nation who took third.
In the Pro Women’s category, Juliana Bicycles’ Emily Slaco took first place with a strong second-day showing. Harriet Harper took second place and Uriell Carlson ended in third.
Interested in learning how to score an entry for next year’s NZ Enduro? Find all the necessary information here.