Rotorua, October 24th 2023: Over 3,000 riders, 4,500 spectators, and 200 volunteers came together in Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Forest over Labour weekend (October 20-22) for the Southern Hemisphere’s largest mountain biking event – the Isuzu Utes Whaka 100 MTB Marathon.
Kiwi talent dominated the leaderboards, with Craig Oliver and Josie Wilcox finishing first in for their respective genders, in the Shimano 100km event. The 100km event balances single track and 3,000m of vertical climb to make it one of the toughest single-day events in the sport.
Wilcox, beat 21-year-old U23 Cross-Country Olympic World Champion, and previous Whaka 100 champion, Sammie Maxwell, with a time of 5:46:22 to secure herself at first place.
“It was awesome to see Josie celebrate her win as first-place finisher. She showcased fierce determination and tenacity to claw back the national championship title from competitor, and world champion, Sammie Maxwell,” says Tim Farmer, Event Director at Nduro Events.
While most of the 3,000 riders were Kiwi, the event continues to pull in international riders, particularly at elite level.
Canadian, Cory Wallace, finished third in the Shimano 100km event, while Australian’s Jon Odams and Japan’s Yuki Ikeda finished first and third respectively in the DCA Whaka Miler.
Commenting on the event, Jason English, Elite Australian athlete, and seven times 24-hour solo MTB World Champ said, “I loved every moment of it. I’m very keen to come back again.”
Alongside elite MTB athletes, new riders and children, the event also attracted the likes of two-time FIA WEC World Champion and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, Kiwi racing driver, Brendan Hartley.
Hartley is also a former Formula F1 driver, having test driven for Red Bull and raced for the Mercedes AMG Petronas FI team. Based in Monaco, he returned to New Zealand in-part to compete at the Whaka 100 – testament to the caliber of the event.
“I'm not a pro rider but I had so much fun, crossed the line smiling. It's been a great day, with the vibe here and the finish line, the volunteers, the other riders. The trails were perfect, hopefully I get invited back!" Hartley said.
Organisers Nduro Events were thrilled with the turnout, along with the positive feedback they’ve received from elite athletes and world champions, to kids and those new to the sport.
“We want to extend a massive thank you to our riders, volunteers and spectators for another brilliant event. The Whaka 100 really brings together the best of the mountain biking community, in the most beautiful part of Aotearoa. We can’t wait to do it all again next year.” says Tim Farmer.