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  • Writer's pictureGary Moller

Karapoti Mountain Bike Race Report

Updated: Mar 14

A good day at the races

Despite not meeting my optimistic expectations due to slower conditions, my victory in this year's Karapoti Classic mountain bike race in my age group was still satisfying and fulfilling. I might be 70 years old, but I'm still getting faster.

Riders on riverbank
Lining up: The countdown has begun!

Race start
The gun has fired and we're off!

River crossing
The start began with a frantic river crossing.

My goals were as follows:

  • Reduce the Karapoti 70+ age record of three hours and 37 minutes, set by Arlo Guthrie in 2019, to less than three hours.

  • Be the first 70-year-old to break the 3hr barrier.

A river crossing
This is not my way to start a cold morning!

It had rained the day or night before, so the ground was slushy and the rocks slippery, which meant times were going to be slower than if the ground was dry and hard, and the puddles and rivers low. So, it was all on to break these times!

48 km of the most challenging terrain - mud, rocks, drops, climbs, big puddles and streams to cross

A river crossing
This is one very challenging race and not for the faint-hearted.

I chose tyres that gave better grip and were more resistant to damage from hitting rocks at speed because the priority with breaking a record is to complete the course in one piece. However, heavier tyres mean slower overall speed, especially on steep climbs.

Rider in river
48 KM covered with only one minute to go, and a deep river crossing to navigate!

A rider finishing
48 kilometres completed with just five seconds to spare!

Rider at finish
Relief, as much as exhaustion: scraping just 5 seconds under the coveted 3-hr barrier!

So, I broke the record by more than 37 minutes and squeezed under the coveted 3hr time, and finished in 29th place overall. For comparison, the next 70-year-old completed the course in 4hr 37 min, and the fastest 60-year-old completed the 48 kilometres in just over 3hrs 44min.

I have a personal best of 2 hours and 45 minutes for the Karapoti race, the longest-running mountain bike competition in New Zealand (running for 39 years). I have since improved my fitness and skills, and my numbers tell me I can complete it in about two hours and 40 minutes under optimal conditions - dry, firm, and speedy. While this may seem achievable in theory, the actual execution is a whole other challenge.

Bring on the UCI MTB Masters World Championships!

This most recent Karapoti win has been a huge confidence-booster for competing in the UCI Masters Mountain Bike World Championships, which I've been unbeaten in for several years now. I intend to add another year of being on top.

Cairns, Australia, is the location for this esteemed event in May of this year, making it a unique chance for athletes in the Southern Hemisphere. I am anticipating a significant turnout of Kiwi riders to be in Cairns for this incredible and inspiring celebration of older athletes from all regions of the world.

To finish, my report follows from the UCI Masters MTB Marathon World Championships:

173 views2 comments


Philip Hayward

Gary, the point you are making with your amazing achievements, is something that should be "promoted news" but it isn't likely to be. We can't have people getting ideas that diet, exercise, self-help, natural and alternative supplementation and medication, and HTMA (and skepticism and avoidance of certain overpromoted mainstream medical products) won't just keep you healthy but might make you an outlier on the very high side!

I am sure I would be a basket case, if not dead before my time, had I not found my own way with the help of experts like you (albeit I am not as self-disciplined as you are....)


Ian Allen
Ian Allen

Powerful stuff Gary!!!

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