The Women of the Whaka100: 24 hour solo mountain bike racing champ Ronel Cook returns to Emerson’s Whaka100
Dunedin’s Ronel Cook is taking on the 100km at Emerson's Whaka100, for the second time. Cook took on the 50km in 2009 and the 100km in 2019 before making the decision to return this year to improve her time from last year and if all goes to plan, qualify for the 100 miler in 2021.
Ronel Cook’s specialty is 24 hour racing. In recent years she has won three 24 hour world titles in her age group at the 24 Hour World Championships in Rotorua, Italy and Scotland, and won the elite class at the 24 hour Asia/Pacific championships last year.
Cooks first race was the Whaka 50km in 2009. She then went on to race 24 hour racing before making a return to the Whaka100 in 2019, 10 years later.
She said it is the amount of single track in the Whaka100 that sets it apart from other events.
“The fun of riding all that single track in one day. Great organisation and they put a lot of effort in to make sure participants have a great race. Competitors from all walks of life are having a great day on the bike and everyone is friendly and helpful.”
Cook said she chose to enter the Whaka100 this year after being on a high for weeks after last years event.
“I got such a buzz last year riding in Rotorua, some of the best single track in NZ. I was on a high for a few weeks after it and want to get another dose of the great riding.”
She said the Whaka100 is a great challenge with a great atmosphere, great people and “some wicked single track”.
“It's hard but very rewarding to finish it. My first ever race was the 50km Whaka about 10 years ago. I was last to finish and always wanted to go back and do better!”
Cook said she is preparing by getting out and riding frequently.
“Lots of single track practice which is not that easy in the Dunedin winter where we have lots of mud this time of year. A few long hard days on the bike."
She said she expects it to be hard day out on the bike.
“It will be a hard slog, but still enjoyable. And some great weather.”