More than 300 endurance racers from around New Zealand will go crazy for the 29th time, with eyes on two guys with the same surname as they line up for the annual kayaking, mountain biking and trail running event: Fine Signs Crazyman.
History was made last year when Nelson teenager Cameron Jones became the youngest-ever winner of the major multisport event Fine Signs Crazyman, a 54k scenic tour around the outdoor elements of the Hutt Valley.
The 17-year-old overcame a six-minute deficit after the opening 13k kayak, riding through the field on the 28k mountain bike section and holding off fellow Nelsonians Dan Busch and Patrick Higgins, to win with a 3hrs 48min 01secs result.
Jones is returning to defend his title on 9 December, but race director Michael Jacques says he won’t have it all his own way.”
Lining up against the Nelsonian is two-time Crazyman winner and race record holder Dan Jones.
The 28-year-old is wanting retribution; last year he finished fourth behind his teenage namesake (no relation) after falling out on the rough kayak section on Wellington harbour.
Defending champion Cameron Jones is very much a mountain bike specialist, while Dan Jones is a man for the run specialist.
The race for honours could come down to the Petone Beach finish line.
“Dan is one of the biggest talents in the sport right now,” says Jacques, “while Cameron is very much the next big thing.
“But Dan has been concentrating mostly on running lately, while Cameron is working hard on his all-round ability. So being a year stronger and wiser than his win in 2017, you’d have to say Cameron is favourite.”
Before the Nelson teenager came of age at the Fine Signs Crazyman, he was the youngest ever finisher at age 14, as Jacques points out.
“I’m 51 and I’ve been doing this stuff since I was a similar age, so I really get a kick out of seeing others grow up with endurance sports like I did.”
This 9 December event will make Crazyman the second longest running multisport race in New Zealand, behind the Coast to Coast.
Past winners of the Fine Signs Crazyman include world champions such as Steve Gurney, Gordon Walker, Emily Miazga, Elina Ussher, Kristina Anglem, Alex Stewart, Jess Simson, Richard and Elina Ussher, and Wellington’s own Jill Westenra.
Jacques calls the contest a “people’s sport… every man’s Everest”, aimed at getting anyone of any age and ability into New Zealand’s great outdoors.
“In the scheme of things, not many people can achieve challenges like Mt Everest. But with a bit of inspiration and motivation they can achieve something like racing around their region or across their country. That’s what events like the Crazyman are about: inspiring anyone and everyone to get outdoors and discover what they can achieve.”
The Crazyman course kicks off with a 13k kayak from Days Bay in Eastbourne, along Wellington Harbour’s eastern coastline to Petone. Paddlers take in the historic Petone Wharf and finish in the lower reaches of the Hutt River at Sladden Park.
At Petone they swap kayaks for mountain bikes for a 28k ride up the Hutt River trail and into Belmont Regional Park. The route takes in a hidden tunnel and creek crossings, then peaks out for staggering views from the volcanic rock strewn Boulder Hill, before passing historic WWII ammunition bunkers to finish on dedicated mountain bike trails at the historic Stratton Street Woolshed.
Bikes are then swapped for running shoes for the 13k trail run over the edge of Belmont Hill and down the bush-clad Korokoro Stream. Following a trail that was first used by Māori in pre-European times, this run is as historic as it is spectacular and eventually finishes on Petone Foreshore.
With over 700m of vertical ascent on sometimes challenging terrain, the Fine Signs Crazyman is a challenging event.
Some call it the “race from hell.”
“I prefer to say, ‘it’s a hell of race’,” laughs Jacques. “But it is challenging. That’s the attraction of endurance sports; you’re trying to achieve something worth achieving!”
“But each section of the Crazyman is actually quite achievable and all you have to do is string them together, in one day. If that’s a bit beyond your current fitness or experience, you can try one section in a team as a stepping stone to going solo in the future. It’s actually not Crazy at all… is it?”
The 29th Fine Signs Crazyman starts at 8:00am on Sunday 9th December. For further details and online entry visit http://www.crazyman.kiwi/.