Race Report: Moonride, 18-May-2013

The Moonride has for many years been the stuff of New Zealand Mountain Bike legends.  Started back in 1994 as part of the mid-winter festival it has enjoyed numerous ups and downs, for the most part getting bigger and better each time.  The original concept was for it to be a team relay MTB race at the bleakest, coldest, wettest time of year from Friday night to Saturday morning.  Given these original input criteria for the race, the 2013 event had a lot to live up to.  Could it take the title of one of the coldest, bleakest and wettest Moonrides ever?  We were about to find out!

Last year the Moonride organisers moved the event to Tui Ridge which had better facilities and was to set a new benchmark for the best of the Moonride venues.  Everything about Tui Ridge was brilliant with one exception –  the actual trails, which despite glorious weather proved completely incapable of holding up to the volume of riders and cut up so badly that many riders vowed never to return.  So it was then, that the organisers pulled the plug on the Tui Ridge venue this year after apparently only receiving 40 entries for the event, and tried a recovery plan involving moving back to Whakarewarewa.  Evidently this was met with approval by the riders with over 253 entries, a testament to the popularity of the forest.

The course for this year was an intoxicating mix of the fast and fun trails that draw so many of us to Rotorua, even when there’s no other reason except to have a great ride.  Starting at the Waipa Mill Café, the course took in the Tahi trail which gradually climbs up into the forest. Next, it headed into the last past of Creek Track to bring the riders out for a short blatt along Nursery Road before darting back into the single track of Grinder (in reverse) along the side of Nursery Road.  The course was originally to leave Grinder and re-join Nursery Road briefly to take us up the hill towards a brief scoot into Genesis followed by the long flowing downhill of the Challenge trail.  However, owing to the rather wet conditions this loop was omitted for the race.  Instead riders simply turned down Pohaturoa Road, and keeping right onto the 4wd tracks of Mud Pool Loop Road which brought us all back down the hill and into the event village.

The 24 hour race was cancelled on Friday night as the rain pounded down – a difficult but good decision.  With the dawning of Saturday morning the rain had stopped and the 12 and 6 hour teams arrived to a car park sporting some new water features.

Jafakids (and their parents and helpers) had many teams spread across the event.  The Jafakids village parked up along-side the Endura, Avanti Plus, and Auckland Grammar School Teams providing a friendly mix of camaraderie.  The Schuurmans had set up their very own “Party Central” with a sort of cloud-ish awning providing enough room for the post lap Jafakids discussion groups.  The small marque alongside managed to provide a great base for sick team member, Heidi to do an excellent job of keeping track of the times for all the teams.  However, with the Jafamums Fruit Loops team down to just three, there was pressure mounting for one of the dads to don a bikini and step in.  That was simply not going to happen so luckily, Arlene Rayner had brought her bike with her but had left it at the camp site.  A quick trip back to the camp to collect it and Arlene was pressed into “able and willing” service – at least that’s what the rest of the team told her!

With the cancelling of the 24 hour category many riders had opted to convert to the 12 hour category swelling the numbers for this race to 158 including 22 solo riders going it alone for the entire distance.  The 12 hour start took riders briefly onto Waipa State Mill Road for a quick sprint up the road to spread the field out before returning and darting into the forest.  The 6 hour riders started about 10 minutes later to chase those 12 hour riders and keep them honest.

TOP: Charlotte cheered on by Kayla and Sarah Russell “Jafakids Mud Munchers”,
LEFT: Kim gets a great start for “Jafakids You must be Jafakidding”
RIGHT: Kalen chases Kim into the forest for the “Jafakids Handlebar heroes”

The first lap was dispatched in just over 15 minutes or so as riders returned from their first lap for a quick handover.   With 253 riders circulating and with the overnight rain still draining into the forest the trail conditions were definitely wet tending to slightly slippery over some of the less well tended parts of the Creek Track.  The marshals did a great job of monitoring the course and moving cones and tape to try and maximise rideability.  As the morning progressed, so did the rain clouds matured until the inevitable downpour.  An hour and a half into the race the lap times started to inexorably increase as the conditions steadily became more challenging.  This was not in the same league as the unrideable Tui Ridge course –  rather more classic mountain biking conditions where some reasonable tyres and mud skills could still get you through.  There was still drama on the trail though as one poor girl broke her leg with Arlene from the “Fruit Loops” Mum’s team luckily on hand to help her.  As the day went on, the muddy and wet conditions gradually took a mechanical toll.  Several riders found their brakes completely gone, even from new pads just the week before.  Good lube and cleaning the drive train after each lap was a must in order to keep things running right.  The marshals out on the course were busily changing the trail direction to avoid the worst of the sections particularly in Creek Track which had suffered on some of the less well established parts of the trail.  The trail beside the river leading into the event village also received some much needed attention after one poor rider found themselves down the bank and enjoying an early bath.  As the last few laps of the 6 hour races progressed it became clear that there was some impressive riding going on.  The Rotorua Juniors actually putting on more laps than any of the senior teams to totally dominate the 6 hour race.  Rotorua had cunningly entered all their top riders in the 6 hour category and were cleaning up on the podium positions.  Nevertheless the Jafakids “Squeals on Wheels” team were putting in a fine performance with a very young team and still achieving an amazing 4th place.  Gene Wang and Jared Tetley forming part of an AGS team also finishing in a creditable 6th place.  At the prize giving it was again the Jafakids “Fruit Loops” Mum’s team taking home a strong podium finish which after 6 hours was only a minute or so a drift from the first placed Women’s team.

Jafakids Mums Team Finishes the 6 Hour :  Erica, Cindy, Lara, and Arlene

As an exhausted 6 hour rider myself, it was hard to imagine that there was still another 6 hours of racing for the 12 hour teams.  The “You must be Jafakidding” team with Kim Wright, Isaac Schuurman, Jesse Voza and Peter Bethell were still putting in some fearsomely fast laps in the open category in which they were up against some incredibly strong competition from the Magellan team who were actually triple lapping – and doing so very quickly.  In the Junior category a very strong looking “team one 4 five” was leading the “AGS HOTSHOTS” in second featuring Jafakids Ryan and Jake Craggs and closely followed by the Jafakids teams of the “Handlebar Heroes” with Alex Beaven, Finn Welsford, Kalen Weir, and Hayden Schuurman in third place.  Just a lap down came the AGS Rockets team in fourth place with Kerran Tetley and Daniel Mackey.  It was all very close at the top.

Hayden in the Jafakids Handlebar Heroes Team :  Jake in the AGS HOTSHOTS team

As the afternoon drew to a close it was time to put the lights on.  With the sun disappearing for the day the prospect of the track drying out was also gone.  Tahi had become a real challenge, the Creek Track was even worse, while even parts of the road were seemingly becoming hard to ride without dropping a few gears.  The slight drizzle managed to keep the trail looking dark and slippery.

Ryan shows off his new bike : Lights blaze through the event village

In the AGS HOTSHOTS team a racing heartbeat of 180 (at rest) saw Rufus Jones taken off to hospital leaving them with just a team of three to tackle the rest of the race.  With the Jafakids Handlebar Heroes team right on their tail lights, no one was about to make too many predictions.


The teams raced on into the night and the conditions did not ease.  Several course modifications later at 6:30pm the race organisers announced that the event would now finish an hour early at 8:00pm for safety reasons more than anything else.   Those last few laps were apparently extremely tough and it came as quite a relief when each rider realised they had finally done their last lap.


The 12 Hour prizegiving started with the Juniors Category, and saw Jafakids Ryan and Jake Craggs from the AGS Hotshots team take to the stage to collect silver medals for their team with Cosmo having gone off to hospital to see how Rufus was getting on. On the other side of the stage in third we had the Jafakids Handlebar Heroes team with Kalen Weir, Finn Welsford-Ackroyd, Alex Beaven and Hayden Schuurman.

Junior Prizegiving with Alex, Kalen and Finn on the left with Jake and Ryan on the Left

Next up was the 12 Hour Mixed teams award in which the teams had to feature at least 2 females. First up saw the Still Classy Avanti Plus team step up for the gold with ex-Jafakids Sasha Smith, Elliot Pearce, Callum McElroy and Sophiemarie Bethell collecting their gongs.  Silver medals went to the Endura Gloworm team with Harriet Beaven and Jessica Manchester, while at the other end of the stage in third place was the Limited Horsepower team featuring Harriet’s Mum and Dad – Jo and Tony along with other Jafakids parents Kirstie and Mike Mackey.  A quick wave across the stage from Hatty to parents on the other side and then a congratulatory hug met with approval.

Left: Kirsty, Mike, Tony, ??, Jo, Sasha, Sopiemarie, Callum McEllroy, Elliot Pearce. Right Harriet, and Jessica

Finally in the open Category we saw Coach Jesse Voza lead Kim Wright, Isaac Schuurman and Peter Bethell on to stage to take a fantastic third place in an absolutely ferocious open category.

Isaac, Jesse, Kim and Peter

All in all a fantastic set of results from the Jafakids riders and best of all they all had fun doing what they love most and infecting everyone that saw them with a smile.  Well done to all the competitors the medals were good but as far as attitude, spirit and camaraderie were concerned you were simply THE BEST.

Deane Tetley’s Photos can be found here,

More photos that you can buy at Marathon Photos – just enter “Jafakid” in the search box (top right of screen)

Results Below with Jafakids (and ex Jafakids) teams in bold

12 Hour Open


36 laps


35 laps

– Kim Wright
– Jesse Voza
– Peter Bethell
– Isaac Schuurman

34 laps


12 Hour Junior


34 laps

– Ryan Craggs
– Jake Craggs
– Cosmo Bloor
– Rufus Jones

32 laps

– Alex Beaven
– Finn Welsford-Ackroyd
– Kalen Weir
– Hayden Schuurman

31 laps

  – Kerran Tetley
– Daniel Mackey
– Jason Callesen
– Jack Fisher
– Nick Jackson

30 laps


29 laps

– Charlotte Rayner
– Kayla Russell
– Sarah Russell
– Jeevan Gossage-Krishan
– Liam Bethell

28 laps


12 Hour Mixed

1st Team Still Classy Avantiplus
Featuring Ex-Jafakids;
– Sasha Smith,
– Elliot Pearce,
– Callum McElroy
– Sophiemarie Bethell

35 laps

2nd Team Endura Gloworm Mixed
– Harriet Beaven
– Jessica Manchester

32 laps

3rd Team Limited Horsepower
Featuring Jafakids Mums and Dads:
– Jo Beaven
– Tony Beaven
– Mike Mackey
– Kirstie Mackey

30 laps


6 Hour Juniors


19 laps


17 laps


15 laps

– Isobel Welsford-Ackroyd
– Paige Weir
– Elye Schuurman
– Max Neradt

15 laps


14 laps

– Jared Tetley
– Gene Wang
– Zoe Callesen
– Dayna Haythorne
– Xavier Price

14 laps


6 Hour Women

1st Team Crank Sista’s – Auckland MTB

14 laps

2nd Team Jafakids Fruit Loops
– Erica Welsford-Ackroyd
– Lara Craggs
– Cindy Weir
– Arlene Rayner

14 laps

3rd Team The Woop Sisters

12 laps

4th Team Psycholing Femmes

11 laps

5th Team Slow Burners

10 laps



6 Hour Open

1st Team Italy 1

18 laps

2nd Team Matt Squared

18 laps

3rd Team Beyond Adventure Race

18 laps

4th Team Mtn To Road

18 laps

5th Mtn To Road Cycles 2

17 laps

featuring:- Gerard Krishnan
– Nigel Craggs
– Neil Welsford
– Thomas Neradt

17 laps

Full results can be found at http://www.thetimingteam.co.nz/results/index.php?thread=2023041834


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