Starting in Cromwell, the pack of lycra clad sadists followed an anti-clockwise route around the lake passing though Northburn and Tarras, before cycling through Luggate and heading back to the Cromwell Sports Club. Read on to learn a little more about the race, the Tour De France visitor, and other annual sporting events run by the Cromwell Promotions Group.
An hour after the start of the event I was driving down the Wanaka Highway to go get photos of competitors crossing the Clutha River (just out of Luggate). Henderson, Justin Stott and one other rider were already heading home. Their legs were grinding like the pistons on a steam locomotive and even from the car driving in the opposite direction I got a sense that they were moving at pace.
At the prize giving a long list of volunteers were thanked, Stott took out the men’s title with a time of 2:20:02, and Mikayla Harvey took the women’s title with 2:31:40. Henderson who claimed no prize, then stood up and auctioned of a set of the 2014 Lotto-Belisol Tour De France team colours.
It should be noted that professional cyclists, (even “roadies” in general), don’t have the best reputation for being humble, community minded or even particularly approachable. It was great to see Henderson prove that reputation is not always the reality.
With only a little arm twisting $500 was raised for the Rachel Clark Memorial Trust. Rachel was a well-loved member of the Cromwell community - head girl at Cromwell College in 2014 and a talented sportswoman. I never had the privilege of meeting her, but based on the reaction from the community after her sudden death from heart failure, she must have been an amazing person.
Overall, the Cromwell Summer Series is a classic example of a small town events team punching well above their weight. Having had a bit to do with the South Westland Triathlon and a few other outdoor events, I appreciated the work that must have gone on behind the scenes to make it all happen.
The race briefing was thorough, the traffic management system better than most, and there were a huge amount of spot prizes. Including the grand Summer Series prize of a Boise Sound System donated by Gary Anderson.
For those who like to challenge themselves, every year the following events are held in and around Cromwell:
Cromwell Half-Marathon - Late October
Bannockburn Gutbuster - Killer mountain bike event held late November
Bannockburn Mountain Bike Classic – End of December
Lake Dunstan Triathlon/Duathlon – Early January
Lake Dunstan Cycle Challenge - Mid January
Personally, I doubt I’ll ever do the Dunstan Challenge, being clad in lycra and hunching over a road bike is just not my thing. However, give me a year or two and I might have a crack at the Bannockburn Mountain Bike Classic or waddle my way around the Cromwell Half Marathon, just so I can say that I took part in the Cromwell Summer Series.