Race Report: Day Night Thriller, 2013

The Thriller this year looked like a bit of a teaser.  Arriving at the venue, the event village looked strangely small compared with previous years.  We wondered why there were not so many entrants this year.  Then we found out that the course had been drastically shortened and now wouldn’t go anywhere near the forestry blocks with the fantastic views over the Waikato River.  This apparently also meant that there were no significant hills.  We all started to worry –  just a bit – that this might have been a mistake!  Still we were all there and ready to race so there was really only one thing that we could do.

image024This year we had Jafakids congregated in a common area but in many different teams representing a combination of schools, sponsors, or club.  The Jafakids tent was located pretty much in the middle of the group of Jafakids riders teams.

Jafakids teams were represented in the 12 hour category by the Jafakids Daynoitaaaa team (Finn Welsford Ackroyd, Alex Beaven, Hayden Schuurman, and Liam Bethell),  and the six hour by Jafakids The Power  (Isobel Wellsford Ackroyd, Eyle Schuurman, Nat Sharpe, Ryan Manchester)

Up-stream of the Jafakids tent was the Massey High Team (Tom Coombes, Callum McEllroy, Isaac Schuurman, and Kim Wright), then even further upstream of them was the Avantiplus tent with  the Still Classy Team featuring Jafakids coaches Piki and Sophie Marie Bethell as well as Peter Bethell and Elliot Pierce)

Down Stream of the Jafakids tents were The Auckland Grammar Teams with the Hotshots team featuring Ryan Craggs and Jake Craggs, while the AGS Rockets team featured Kerran Tetley and Daniel Mackey and deep in the AGS Hotmix team Jared Tetley could be found.

Down Stream further was the Endura mixed team featuring Jessica Manchester and Harriet Beaven,  Then further still was Team T C Nutrition with Jemma Manchester having her first real outing since her back surgery riding with fellow Jafakid Brittany McCrystall and friends.

Race Start

Race Start

 The day had evidently not started well with the news of no forest and no hills.  The next piece of news was that the mass start was on the start finish line with riders stretching back around the course This was surely going to be mayhem.  With everyone squeezed between the railings the countdown began and the race finally got underway with all the riders streaming through the start line to commence their first lap.  Theses starts are always a little perplexing because somehow everyone manages to scream away from the line but then as soon as the first sign of a small obstacle occurs in the trail there seems to be a massive queue and procession to get past it.  So it was in this case but to be fair, from what I saw, everyone remained very patient and well behaved – everyone knew there was a long way still to go.

The course took riders out of spa park down the familiar grassy slope to a bit of a scary right-hander onto loose gravel at the bottom.  From there instead of heading up into the forestry block riders sped straight on heading towards the spa hotel and then headed left over a bridge where we would normally exit the trails.  A few pinch climbs which really meant getting out of the saddle and grunting a bit and you were up the top, flying along a really quite fast section of trail with enough roots to ensure you were never going to relax for too long if you were to stay on your bike.  Then into a really quite nice roller coaster ride through a few of the remaining trees (yes there were still a few left) – lots of fun to be had in there.  Finally out of the trees and a quick accent before zigzagging down through freshly bermed corners to a bridge to take you back onto a gravel road right by the spa hotel.  A quick blast along the road for a pinch climb back into spa park was all that was needed before arriving at the punishing final hill to take you over and into the event village.  All in all, a lap of about 4.1km for the 12 hour riders, a little extra in the event village for the 6 hour teams.

Auckland Grammar Jafakids (Ryan C, Kerran, & Jake)

Auckland Grammar Jafakids (Ryan C, Kerran, & Jake)

Massey Jafakids (Kim, Tom, & Isaac)

Massey Jafakids (Kim, Tom, & Isaac)

Having ridden the first lap, which really didn’t take too long, many riders elected to do another because things were only just warming up.  The sun was out and the track was fast and despite my expectations I was actually enjoying it!  The riding was a little fast and furious and not really technically challenging but somehow it was fun.  The Jafakids teams (and all the other teams with Jafakids in them) were all benefiting from their past years of doing these events with some well drilled changes of riders and some blistering lap times.  Mechanic Jaimee from the Avantiplus team was kept busy with all manner of issues but nothing to seemingly put an end to anyone’s race- really good to have mechanics on hand when your ride goes to custard!  As the race settled down it became clear that there was a lot of overtaking to be done.  With all the teams now condensed onto a 4km course you just could not ride very far before you caught someone up – or someone caught you!  As the day wore on the sun kept spirits up and soon after midday the spot prizes started with all manner of goodies on offer.  At 1:00pm the 3 hour race started and looped into the rest of the field making this the most congested time.

Endura Jafakids (Harriet, Jemma, & Jessica)

Endura Jafakids (Harriet, Jemma, & Jessica)


Jafakids riding for Jafakids!  (Finn, Liam, Hayden, Elye, & Ryan M)

Jafakids riding for Jafakids! (Finn, Liam, Hayden, Elye, & Ryan M)

As the late afternoon approached so did the end of the 6 hour and 3 hour races.  As the magic time of 4:00pm approached I found myself doing the last lap for the team and almost wishing I could do a few more – me and my stupid thoughts!   Anyway I crossed the line with just over 11 minutes to go, and since I was lapping in about 12:00 minutes or so (for the longer 6 hour course),  I realised my race was actually over.  Then my thoughts turned to those poor 12 hour teams who still had to do another 6 hours – let’s just say I was not disappointed in my race choice!

The six hour prize giving bought some well-deserved podiums for the Jafakids The Power team and also for the parents team – Team Pinky Finger – affectionately named after my latest broken body part after an unfortunate crash landing attempt.

6 Hour Podiums for Jafakids “THE POWER” and the parents “Pinkie Finger” teams

6 Hour Podiums for Jafakids “THE POWER” and the parents “Pinkie Finger” teams

With the 12 hour now in full swing it was back to the camp to break out the food and keep those riders racing.  The clear day turned into a clear night and with it a bit of a chill.  The trails just got better and better though.  A small amount of dampness really helped pack down some of the loose dirt and the times didn’t fall like they have done in the past when the darkness comes.  It was the first Thriller in memory conducted without any rain at all and it made for some great night racing.

As the final few hours ticked by incredibly quickly, heaters were cranked up but the rain failed to materialise and spirits remained high.  The finish came at 10:00pm and saw the Massey boys take out the 12 hour junior category in fine style bettering not just the junior category but every category at the event.  The AGS Hotshots secured the bronze while the Jafakids DAYNOITAAAA team and AGS Rockets team very close in 4th and 5th places.  In the 12 hour mixed category Team Endura secured a fine first place with the T C Nutrition team in second.  In the Open category the Avantiplus still classy team got up for a great third placed podium finish.


12 Hour Junior Teams Massey (1st) AGS Hotshots (3rd)

12 Hour Junior Teams Massey (1st) AGS Hotshots (3rd)

12 Hour Open Team of Avantiplus still classy (still Jafakids at heart)!

12 Hour Open Team of Avantiplus still classy (still Jafakids at heart)!

12 Hour Mixed Teamsof Endura (1st) and T C Nutrition (2nd)

12 Hour Mixed Teamsof Endura (1st) and T C Nutrition (2nd)

Ryan Craggs also came away with a Millenium Two night stay.  His parents have tried to drop several hints that it would be nice if they could take a break but he seems to have mistaken this as some reference to the broken finger!

Next year it looks like there will be some changes to the  event as the organisers look to shore up a new venue where riding in the forests will be permitted, with expressions of interest of other venues that might be suitable being sought.  That might well mean this was the last Taupo Thriller which will be a shame but if that’s how it turns out we will all remember this last one as a cracking good race day (and night)!

For more on the event check out:


Results Below with Jafakids (and ex Jafakids) riders highlighted in Bold

(Full official Results can be found here)


12 Hour Open


1st Team Jamis Pros Tauranga

65 laps


2nd Team B.s.n.m Racing

65 laps


3rd Avantiplus Waitakere – Still Classy
– Peter Bethell
– Sophiemarie Bethell
– Sasha (Piki) Smith
– Elliot Pearce

64 laps




12 Hour Junior


– Tom Coombes
– Callum McEllroy
– Isaac Schuurman
– Kim Wright

67 laps



66 laps


– Ryan Craggs
– Jake Craggs
  – Jason Callesen
– Jack Fisher
– Sam Radford-Park

62 laps


  – Finn Welsford Ackroyd
– Alex Beaven
– Hayden Schuurman
– Liam Bethell

60 laps


  – Kerran Tetley
– Daniel Mackey
– Owen Chung
– Tyler Morunga
– Rufus Jones

60 laps



– Jack Boyd

– Xavier Pinter Price

– Zoe Callesen

– Dayna Haythorne

– Jared Tetley

49 laps





12 Hour Mixed


1st Team Endura NZ
Harriet Beaven
Jessica Manchester

66 laps


2nd Team T C Nutrition

Brittany McCrystal
Jemma Manchester

64 laps


3rdTeam Planet Of Hair

57 laps





6 Hour Juniors


1st Team Tauranga Boys College

30 laps


2nd Team M And D Racing

26 laps


3rd Team Jafakids The Power
– Isobel Wellsford Ackroyd
– Eyle Schuurman
– Nat Sharpe
– Ryan Manchester

26 laps




6 Hour Mixed


1st Team Biking Beer And Rugby

26 laps


2nd Team Jafakids Pinky Finger
– Erica Welsford-Ackroyd
– Neil Welsford
– Lara Craggs
– Nigel Craggs

25 laps


3rd Team Wairoa Wenches   Wairoa

24 laps






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