Sam Shaw (pictured left) leading Emerson's Whaka100 in 2018, Sam Osborne (centre), Samantha Kingsford (right). Photos supplied.
Among the pool of talented participants in the Whaka 100km and in the Elite category are three Sam’s.
Sam Shaw, Sam Osborne and Samantha Kingsford are set to take on the Whaka100 on 25th October.
Shaw Shaw finished the Whaka100 in third place in 2018 and 5th place in 2019 before entering this year’s Whaka100 with the goal of taking the win.
“It’s a very well run event and the girls and guys always make a good course and epic atmosphere. I’m also keen to try to take the top step of that podium.”
He said he has two clear goals - to get enough big rides in so it’s a fun race and not a ‘crampy’ one, and to “give the guys the beans or cramp trying.”
Shaw has taken a different approach this year as he is aiming to prepare for the event more than he has previously.
“Usually I make a very last minute call to race, and decided to do this with a bit of preparation this time around.”
Rotorua local and triathlete Sam Osborne has entered the 100km for the first time. Osborne had a successful year in 2019 taking six Xterra Tour wins and placing third in The Pioneer MTB Stage Race.
“The Whaka is always something I’ve wanted to do, it’s one of those epic events that scares you a little bit and I think that’s the appeal of the race to so many.”
Osborne said he isn't usually able to race the Whaka100 as he would be overseas preparing for Xterra Worlds.
He said entering the Whaka100 has given him motivation to train and stay motivated in a year where he hasn’t been able to race.
He said in terms of setting goals, a Mountain Bike Marathon is unknown territory for him.
“It is very much unknown for me, I’m a triathlete so quite different to my usual game. I just want to be able to roll the dice at the front of the race for as long as possible.”
Osborne said his training has involved a little more mileage on the bike.
“I’ve always been a big believer in consistency and backing up a lot of weeks of good consistent training rather than doing a short hero block of work.”
He said the COVID 19 pandemic hasn’t affected his training, more so the race schedule and direction of the training.
“With COVID, when you lose the ability to race, it has shown how much I really enjoy the racing.”
Osborne's partner and Xterra athlete Samantha Kingsford is also taking on the 100km for the first time.
Kingsford also had a big year winning the Pan American Tour title and three races in 2019.
After realising she wouldn't be able to travel for races this year, Kingsford entered the Whaka100.
“I have had my eye on this race for a few years now, but have been overseas racing Xterra in the Northern Hemisphere's summer race season for the past few years, so I have never been home in time to get on the start line.”
“When races started disappearing and there was definitely no chance of getting overseas to race, I decided it was now my chance to tick off this bucket list race. It has also been a good motivation to get out and train hard over the winter.”
She said the race will be unknown territory as she has never raced 100km on a mountain bike.
“I don’t really know what to expect other than an extremely tough and long day. I would love to make it onto the podium, but 100km is a very long day out on the bike compared to my usual 30km, so to make it home in one piece would also be great.”
Kingsford's training has been similar to what it would usually be at this time of year. Swimming and running with slightly more focus on mountain biking to prepare for the 100km.
“The lack of racing has had the most impact on my training. My last race was the Motatapu off road triathlon which was at the beginning of the year. COVID has meant I haven't been able to get in the racing.”
The fourteenth edition of Emerson's Whaka100 will see a range of talent on the start line and is shaping up to be the largest in its history.