Race Report: AGS Winter Series 3/4 – Whitford, 11-August-2013

Race 3 in the series was predicted to be wet.  Memories of the last wet race at Hunua were still vivid, and raw.  For those who knew Whitford from previous years, a wet day here was enough to seriously consider a nice indoor sport.  Nevertheless as everyone rose to head to the race it was wet and still raining.  The forecast had been correct – well it had to happen one day!

image017Arriving at the forest entrance the rain came down harder than ever as four wheel drives tentatively entered the forest for the 1.5km drive to the start.

Then something really odd happened – the rain stopped.  The forest road turned out to be much improved over previous years and all that attempted the drive up the hill duly arrived at the start village.

The course once again followed the traditional winter series route.  Starting with a 1km ride up the road with a couple of deceptive climbs to spread the field out. The riders finally turned off in to the slippery muddy entrance to the Charging Pig Trail.  This trail is one which thrills in wet or dry conditions but for different reasons.  In the dry it challenges with its off camber roots and tricky corners.  In the wet things rapidly turn into a much more challenging affair and as you descend towards the first stream crossing only the very brave or skilled are the ones that will pull it off.  Race briefing advice was to get off and walk /run.   After making their way across the slippery plank across the stream ( bridge is a little too generous a word), there was a bit of a climb up a hill to continue along the trail.  Mud tyres proved essential, without them, there was simply no grip at all.  Another stream crossing and then undulating riding through the forest with wet roots constantly ensuring you don’t relax.

Turning right out of Charging Pig, it was a quick blatt down a short section of forestry road before the big road climb.    The road was in much better condition than previous years but that simply meant traction was no longer an issue and grinding up the incline was harder than ever.  Just as riders neared the top they were turned back into the forest to join the Milk Run trail which when run in reverse offered yet more tricky roots and corners before exiting back onto the road just 30m up from where they’d left it.  From here the short course ran straight back to the start village while the long course turned left to take in a loop incorporating The Boss and Rome trails before joining back to short course at the start village.

All in all a testing course which would test both fitness and skill of both riders, and in some cases marshals and spectators alike.  With race briefing out of the way everyone headed to the start.  Different age groups did different combinations of short long and very short laps – it was a little complicated so I will not dwell on who did what.

Race start was to be in two waves but ended up being three – though not everyone was clear who would be going when.  As a result the Seniors started first.  10 seconds later, the Intermediates set off.  Then 2 minutes later the Juniors were off.

The Senior riders comprised of Jafakids Tom Coombes in the boys with Harriet Beavan and Charlotte Rayner in the girls. In the Intermediates we had a huge boys field with Jafakids represented by Aaron Car, Kim Wright, Ryan Craggs, Isaac Schuurman, Hayden Schuurman, Daniel Holt-Pederson, Dan Finnemore, and Kerran Tetley.  In the girls we had Kayla Russell and Emma Simcock-Smith.  Juniors Jafakids riders comprised Jake Craggs, Elye Shuurman and Daniel Mackey in the boys, while Jessica Manchester was the sole Jafakid in the Junior girls race.


With just a 10 second deficit the Intermediate boys were always going to try and give Tom Coombes and Cody Langford (in the Seniors race) a bit of a run for their money.   Up to the Charging Pig trail entrance, the field had become quite spread out with Tom in the lead but being hotly pursued by the lead Intermediates headed by Aaron, Kim, Ryan and Isaac.  The Juniors meanwhile were led away by Jake and Jessica determined to catch those intermediates up ahead of them.

By the time everyone came out of the Charging Pig trail it was clear there was some serious racing going on.  Senior boy Tom Coombes was first to emerge and powered up the hill towards Milk Run but was closely followed by Intermediates Aaron and  Kim , then Cody Langford (in Toms category), and intermediates Isaac and Ryan – none of them wanting to give too much away as they all filtered through the half lap point.  Next came Senior girl Charlotte Rayner having got past Harriet Beavan when Hatty crashed out in “Charging Pig” and then lost time whilst needing to effect repairs on the bike before being able to continue.  Hatty was now 3½ minutes behind but back in full race mode having got back past leading Intermediate girls Kayla Russell and Emma Simcock-Smith.  In the Juniors, Jake was riding a great race to have made his way past all but the top 7 Intermediate boys from a two minute deficit at the start.  He was being chased 30 seconds back by Liam Talbot who was also riding very well.

A couple of minutes back Junior girl Jessica was also riding really well leading all but the top two Junior boys.


Whitford was proving to be a tough race to nail and leading Intermediate boy Aaron succumbed to the most annoying mechanical of a jammed chain signalling the end of his race.  As the riders swept through the start/finish area to start their second lap it was still Tom out in front having seemed to have put a spurt on after being closed in by those pesky intermediate boys.  Meanwhile Kim was now leading Isaac and Ryan in the chase for the finish.  It sadly wasn’t long before more crashes lead to more retirements.  Cody Langford in a secure second place in the senior boys race came off and the front wheel simply crumpled.  With no way to continue it was a long walk back to the start area.  Junior girl Jessica also had an up close and personal moment with a tree on the difficult Charging Pig and came away battered and bruised with a chipped tooth but still managed to ride on.  Kim was not so fortunate while being chased through the forest by Isaac and Ryan, with his saddle giving up on trying to stay horizontal leaving Kim with an impossible seating arrangement that he just couldn’t fix.  Ditching the saddle simply meant an impossibly difficult ride over the roots and forced his retirement.

Back at my marshalling point we waited for the first riders to emerge from Charging Pig to climb the hill up to Milk Run again.  To our surprise, the first rider to appear was Junior Boy Jake, who owing to his shorter first lap had slipped past all the seniors and Intermediates and was still going like a train up the hill.      Less than a minute later Tom Coombes came sprinting up the hill as the sole senior boy still running.  Another minute and Isaac and Ryan appeared less than 20 seconds apart and still putting on a furious pace. The field was now really very spread out with riders arriving almost every minute and racing to the finish.

97bb9f2a-7c5e-46ce-bdc5-222a895769e6 At the finish line Jake Craggs finished first in the Junior boys followed a few minutes later by Liam Talbot. Isaac Schuurman was next to appear having pulled away slightly for the win in the Intermediates boys with Ryan Craggs just 51 seconds behind.  Daniel Holt-Pederson had a great race to finish in third.

Jessica Manchester had a seemingly comfortable win in the Junior girls despite her crash and her pain and managed to finish ahead of 3rdplace Junior boy Elye Shuurman who once again had had a great race to finish in third place in his race.

In the Senior girls Charlotte Rayner took the win with Harriet still finishing strongly in second after closing the first laps gap to just 2½ minutes at the finish.

Kayla Russell had ridden well in the Intermediate girls and at the finish secured a comfortable win over Emma Simcock-Smith in second place, who herself had a great race for her first ever visit to Whitford – what an experience!

All told the race was one of the most challenging of the Winter Series.  It’s always a pleasure to visit Whitford but also a relief to leave in one piece.  The racing was superb, just a shame those mechanical failures and little mishaps can spell an early end to a race that would and should be great.  The racing now moves to Woodhill for the final round of the Winter Series on the 25th August.  That will be a great finale with many podium spots still potentially up for grabs for the series.


Results Below with Jafakids highlighted in Bold


Male  Cross Country Junior – U15

Race 3 Place Name School Race 3 Time
1 Jake Craggs Auckland Grammar School 0:50:27
2 Liam Talbot Macleans College 0:53:52
3 Elye Schuurman Massey High School 1:01:35
4 Daniel Mackey Auckland Grammar School 1:12:00
5 Matt Mcfellin Auckland Grammar School 1:17:03
6 Zac Saunders Auckland Grammar School 1:31:00
DNF Edmond Liu Macleans College


Female  Cross Country Junior – U15

Race 3 Place Name School Race 3 Time
1 Jessica Manchester Howick College 0:59:17
2 Dayna Haythorne Epsom Girls 1:20:00
3 Zoe Jane Callesen Epsom Girls 1:39:00


Male  Cross Country Intermediate – U17

Race 3 Place Name School Race 3 Time
1 Isaac Schuurman Massey High School 0:58:17
2 Ryan Craggs Auckland Grammar School 0:59:08
3 Daniel Holt-Pederson Macleans College 1:00:57
4 Jason Callesen Auckland Grammar School 1:02:10
5 Jack Fisher Auckland Grammar School 1:03:41
6 Hayden Schuurman Massey High School 1:06:54
7 Owen Chung Auckland Grammar School 1:13:47
8 Tyler Morunga Auckland Grammar School 1:18:30
9 Jack Boyd Auckland Grammar School 1:20:04
10 Kerran Tetley Auckland Grammar School 1:20:06
11 Dan Finnemore Takapuna Grammar School 1:21:49
12 Chris Hebson Macleans College 1:22:42
13 Freddie Tressider Auckland Grammar School 1:31:42
14 Hayden Woodhead Macleans College 1:41:57
15 Cameron Fisher Macleans College 1:42:10
16 Xavier Pianta-Price Auckland Grammar School Lapped
DNF Aaron Carr Howick College
DNF Kim Wright Massey High School
DNF Brad O”Brien Howick College
DNF Abi Ragulakumar Auckland Grammar School
DNF James Maxwell Auckland Grammar School


Female  Cross Country Intermediate – U17

Race 3 Place Name School Race 3 Time
1 Kayla Russell Howick College 1:12:00
2 Emma Simcock-Smith Diocesan School 1:37:00
3 Breana Langford Macleans College 1:39:00


Male  Cross Country Intermediate – U19

Race 3 Place Name School Race 3 Time
1 Tom Coombes Massey High School 1:16:25
DNF Cody Langford Macleans College


Female  Cross Country Intermediate – U19

Race 3 Place Name School Race 3 Time
1 Charlotte Rayner Howick College 1:07:28
2 Harriet Beaven Parnell College 1:09:39
3 Sarah Russell Howick College 1:16:00
DNF Sidak Malhi Macleans

footer1 footer2 footer3 image016

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.