Iconic Capital Race Changing Date
Endurance junkies are going twice as crazy this year with Wellington’s premier multisport event – the Fine Signs Crazyman – being held twice in 2017 !
After almost 30 years, the Fine Signs Crazyman is re-positioning from May to December, effective December 10th this year.
Established in 1991 the annual kayaking, mountain biking and mountain running epic is one of New Zealand’s longest running multisport events. As a highlight on the national scene, past winners read like a who’s-who of multisport history: 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 have all won the annual Lower Hutt event.
“It’s a big change,” says event organiser Michael Jacques. “We didn’t do it lightly. But we felt the Crazyman needed to find some elbow room on the calendar.”
“In the last 10 years the number of mass participation endurance events on the New Zealand calendar has more than quadrupled. But the numbers taking part haven’t increased to the same extent. The event season is mostly a spring to autumn affair and the Crazyman in May was starting to feel like the last cab off the rank.”
Jacques points to multisport and triathlon being ironic casualties of this growth within the event industry.
“The growth in dedicated mountain biking and trail running events has caused a drop in the team aspect within multisport and triathlon. We have a situation at the Crazyman where there are more people than ever doing the event solo, but less participants in total because the team thing isn’t what it once was.”
Jacques is hoping the shift to December will give the Crazyman some breathing space.
“There are less events at that time of year, and there are not many good events to use as a build up to the Coast to Coast in February. Being earlier in the season grabs people when they are keener, and December might also rekindle team participation with an end of year-come-Christmas feel.”
The Crazyman to December might help re-invigorate the sport in central New Zealand too, says Jacques.
“Right now, most multisport events around our wider area are in the March to May timeline. Spreading a few out to spring would make the scene so much more of an all-year-round affair, which can only be a good thing.”
For the first time, the Fine Signs Crazyman will be run twice in a year. “We just felt that 18 months – from May 2017 to December 2018 – would be too long between drinks,” says Jacques. “So we decided to kick-off the new date with a second Crazyman in 2017.
On a course that is as spectacular as it is challenging, the Crazyman 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.
It’s on to mountain bikes at this point 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.
Participants then swap bikes for running shoes for the 13k trail run down the bush-clad Korokoro Stream. Following a trail that was first used by Maori in pre-European times, this run is as historic as it is spectacular and eventually finishes on Petone Foreshore.
Multisport isn’t for the feint-hearted and with over 700m of vertical ascent on sometimes challenging terrain, the Crazyman has long had a reputation as the race from hell.
“I prefer to say, ‘it’s a hell of race’,” laughs Jacques. “But it is tough. That’s the attraction of endurance sports; you’re trying to achieve new things. But a big part of the popularity of the Crazyman is that each section by itself is very achievable and all you have to do is string them together… in one day!”
At peak in the mid-2000s the Fine Signs Crazyman attracted more than 500 participants. Jacques is hoping the shift to December will bring numbers back close to 400 and then to keep building from there. If the full multisport isn’t your thing, then the duathlon option for non-kayakers might be, and Jacques is keen to see the team aspect regain popularity.
“Back in the day the team thing was how people got into multisport,” he says. “They’d get roped into it by a mate or a spouse and be so inspired they’d come back to do it by themselves the following year. I still think that’s important for the future growth of multisport.
The 28th Fine Signs Crazyman starts at 8:00am on Sunday 10th December. For further details visit www.crazyman.co.nz.