The Coromandel Peninsula's Moehau Multisport Festival has come a long way since 1999 when Coromandel's Keith Stephenson came home from the Speight's Coast to Coast wondering why there wasn't anything like that in his neck of the woods. The surroundings are just as spectacular, the terrain just as challenging, and with the country's biggest city close by Stephenson figured there would be support for a great race in his place. He was right.
On Saturday almost 200 multisport enthusiasts from all ends of the country, not to mention Australia and Sweden, will take on this great race in a great place.
Established in 2000, the event has featured a spectacularly challenging circumnavigation of Coromandel Peninsula. In more recent years an off road triathlon and mountain bike duathlon options have been included.
The feature Moehau Multisport Race starts with a 14k sea kayak from Long Bay to Waitete Bay. Then a 22k mountain bike to Waikawau Bay. A 13k trail run to Kennedy Bay follows, then the final 17k mountain bike to the finish line back at Coromandel Town. The off road triathlon option does a 1.5k swim in Waitete Bay and then follows the same course, while the mountain bike duathlon follows the same mountain bike, run and mountain bike.
Favourite for the feature multisport race is Wellington's James Coubrough, a New Zealand representative runner who has taken to multisport in the past year. In his first major multisport race Coubrough won the 2011Two-Day Speight's Coast to Coast and is using this year's Moehau Man to warm up for the Speight's Coast to Coast One Day world championship race this February.
But the Lower Hutt builder will need to watch for a trio of talented Swede's. Mattias Nystrom and Simon Niemi are expected to push Coubrough. Niemi is also using the Moehau Man as a Speight's Coast to Coast warmup, but it is Nystrom who is expected to mount the biggest challenge. He finished second in the Adventure Racing World Championship last year in Tasmania and has been training in New Zealand since mid-December. Also expected to challenge is 52 year old Erik Ahlstrom, who introduced multisport and adventure racing to Sweden in 1997.
Favourite among women or the feature multisport event is former Speight's Coast to Coast runner up, Louise Mark, from Auckland. In the off road triathlon option Tauranga's Chris Morrissey is expected to dominate.
The Moehau Man was the first event established by Adventure Racing Coromandel. Other popular events include the ARC Adventure Race (March 17-18, 2012), the K2 Cycle Classic (October 27, 2012) and the Great Kauri Run (Nov 17, 2012). Their events benefit the Spirit of Coromandel, a charitable Trust set up to support and encourage young people into outdoor activities.