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You’re in the last 3k’s of the event. Your lungs are burning, your legs are aching and your mind needs to focus. You glance up and catch sight of the incredible mountain panorama across the waters of Lake Taupo. You are drawn in by the vista before you, it takes your mind away from the pain and before you know it you’ve powered your way to the finish line.
This could be you, participating in the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge, the Kelloggs Nutri-Grain New Zealand Ironman or any one of the multitude of endurance sports events that have emerged in Taupo. Let’s face it, there are endurance sports events, and then there are endurance sports events held in the beautiful Lake Taupo region. Any athlete, amateur or pro, will agree that there’s something special and exceptionally motivating about competing in such a pristine environment.
Let’s start with the water. Clean, clear and fresh. There’s nothing in Lake Taupo for swimmers to contend with. You can see right to the bottom most of the time and the scariest thing you’re likely to encounter is a rainbow trout gliding through the water. If your event involves cycling or running, you’ll find the roads and footpaths well maintained. And then there’s the clean, fresh sub-alpine air you’ll be breathing in. At 360m above sea level, Lake Taupo is at an ideal altitude for endurance sport. It’s not so high that oxygen intake is affected, but it’s high enough that the air is crisp and clean and the humidity is low.
If you’re not a participant but love to watch endurance sports events, you’ll find that Taupo is one of the best locations around for event spectators. Many of the endurance sports events finish right in town and different stages of these events can be viewed from the lakefront and environs. Taupo’s towncentre is perfectly set up to cater for spectators with magnificent views, coffee, food, playgrounds and toilets all within walking distance of event courses and finish lines.
Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge
There’s not long to go till New Zealand’s premier cycling event kicks off on Saturday 24th November 2012. Held on the last Saturday of November every year, the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge is recognised by the UCI (International Cycling Union) as one of the world’s top six recreational rides. The 160km course circumnavigates the idyllic Lake Taupo, taking in stunning vistas along the way.
The Cycle Challenge attracts a diverse range of participants, including elite riders (making the event really exciting to watch!) and weekend riders who want a challenging event to complete. Many riders will say they’re not out there to race, at least not against others anyway, but they are out there to complete the course and improve on their time from the previous year.
Over the years the event has evolved to include the Kids@Heart Ride, the OPI Women’s Road Race and the Contact Huka Mountainbike Challenge. This variety makes the event a real social occasion. The relay event is popular with groups of friends and you’ll see some outrageous costumes out there on the course! The prizegiving has a definite party atmosphere, and with spot prizes like a brand new Hyundai i20GLS car valued at over $27,000, no one wants to miss the occasion.
Here are some interesting facts about the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge:
- Each year an average of 400 international riders from 20 different countries compete
- Around 50% of riders come from either Auckland or Wellington
- In 2011, 304 participants were under the age of 15, and 77 were over the age of 70
- The biggest age group is 35-55 years
- 72% of riders are male and 28% are female
If you’re planning your travel to Taupo for the event, be sure to check out the Accommodation and Ferry Bookings pages of the Cycle Challenge website. The Hilton Lake Taupo is offering participants a 20% discount on two night stays and a 30% discount on three night stays prior to the event, so it’s a great deal for those pre-event training trips to Taupo. The Cycle Challenge also offers an accommodation service to help participants find places to stay in holiday homes and private houses. The service is free of charge and arrangements are made directly between the participants and the home owner.
If you’re travelling up from the South Island for the Cycle Challenge, Interislander ferries are offering participants great discounts on off peak fares for both vehicles and passengers, for travel between 17 November and 1 December 2012.
The Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge can be entered online here. The Cycle Challenge website is a wealth of information on the course, training, event facilities, event week entertainment, visitor information, local discounts for participants, online shopping and more.
Other Taupo Endurance Events to Conquer
You can’t go past Taupo’s Kelloggs Nutri-Grain New Zealand Ironman as the elite event of New Zealand endurance sport. The 3.8km fresh water swim, 180km cycle and 42.2km run, being held on Saturday 3 March 2013, has been described as a beautiful course with fantastic supporters. It’s a stunning event, from the glowing sunrise and early morning mass start in the lake, to the fittest and fastest triathletes in the world competing for a title, to the last competitors struggling to finish their 17 hour journey before the cut off time.
If the full Ironman is biting off a little more than you think you can chew, there’s the Taupo Half Ironman, held on 8 December 2012. The event follows the course of the New Zealand Ironman, but is half the distance. Some athletes use this event as training for the full Ironman, but most entrants are focused on completing the Half Ironman in the best time they can.
Taupo is now home to a host of running events - the Mizuno Half Marathon (August), the Mizuno Kinloch Off Road Quarter, Half and Full Marathons (September), and the Saucony Tauhara Off Road Half Marathon (July). These running events take in some of the most spectacular scenery New Zealand has to offer and, if you can complete all three in the same year, you’ll be awarded the 63.3 Challenge award and receive a free t shirt.
Other popular endurance sports events in Taupo include the 4.2km Across the Lake Swim (February), the Contact Tri Series Kinloch (February), The Taniwha mountain biking, trail running and walking event on the Waikato River Trails (November), the Acerbis 4 Hour Endurance Motorcycle Race (October) and the Oxfam Trailwalker (April).
Whatever your sport of choice, Taupo is the place to be for competing in world class events. For a full list of events across the Great Lake Taupo region visit www.GreatLakeTaupo.com/EventsCapital
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