In this week’s Rider Series, we caught up with Lara and Robert Comeskey - a father and daughter duo entering the Sotheby’s International Realty New Zealand Whaka 50 for the first time. Lara was also the youngest ever female Karapoti Classic finisher - how awesome!
Even though they’re both from Wellington, Lara, aged 14, actually started mountain biking in the Rotorua Redwoods - training for the Whaka from the young age of 6 (even if she didn’t know it then)! Falling in love with “Dipper and it’s smooth, flowing rollers”, Lara went on to enroll in WORD in Wellington aged 7 and still rides with the organisation.
Seven years on, Lara’s dad Robert might be chasing her down the trails rather than the other way round but they still ride and race together around Wellington. This year however, is their year for the Whaka 50km race.
Robert grew up next to Karapoti so has always enjoyed cycling but lets Lara take the lead on intense training. “I’m doing general riding and working up some kilometres to just be able to complete the Whaka 50. Lara rides several times a week around the trails here in Wellington with friends, particularly with her friend Millie Donald, who is also14.”
Lara and Millie often race against each other and Lara tells us she loves entering different types of events including local PNP Spring Series, Schools and Open MTB championships, Xterra and the Porirua Grand Traverse. Lara and Millie even rode the Karapoti together this year - riding the whole race as a pair. The same can’t be said for Lara and dad Robert in 2018’s Karapoti - when Lara became the youngest female finisher; “I was supposed to ride it all with Dad, but he couldn’t keep up on the last hill and I beat him by half an hour”.
Robert suspects history will repeat itself at the Whaka 50km. “There is a real chance Lara and Millie may repeat the Karapoti and finish together after talking the whole way round the course”. “I’ll be following a long way back” he admitted.
However, it’s not just about the Whaka 50 race results for the duo; “we are both so looking forward to finally doing a Rotorua event. It’s not all about the racing. It's just great fun getting out there, getting muddy and riding great trails with a whole lot of other people who like doing it too.”
They may not have raced the Whaka 50 before but they’re eager. “We’ve heard so much about it from other riders. We’re just super excited about exploring new trails and being part of such a big event”.
To finish up, we asked for Lara and Robert’s advice for someone planning to enter the Whaka100 race weekend, whatever distance; “relax and enjoy it. There really is a course for every ability and it’s a great opportunity to ride on some of NZ's best tracks.”
We couldn’t agree more! Thanks again Lara and Robert and we’ll see you at the Whaka weekend!