In the weeks leading up to this year’s MitoQ K2 Cycle race, participant and MitoQ Chief Marketing Officer John Marshall shared a video stating “it’s not for the faint-hearted.” He wasn’t wrong. The 2021 race’s weather was deemed by organizers as “the worst conditions in 19 years of running the event”. Occurring on April 10th (following a postponement from its original date, due to COVID), organizers considered canceling the event completely, due to heavy rain forecasts and predicted wind gusts of up to 70kph. Less than 24 hours before the race, it was decided that the event would go ahead – with a few additional safety measures.
Registering for the race
The night before the race, riders began making their way to the local Tairua Rugby Club to register for the big day. While there were concerns about the weather, morale remained high. The MitoQ team caught up with many of the riders on how they were feeling about the upcoming race and offered them a few freebies as well as information on how MitoQ can support energy, performance and recovery.
The 6 am start
At 6 am on the 10th of April, 30 riders lined up and took off from Tairua Rugby Club. They were followed by another group at 6.15 am and a third group at 6.30 am. At 7.30 am, the K2 Elite race set off, 11 of which included the Black Spoke Pro Cycling team.
Riding through the rain
Despite the weather forecast, there was an impressive gathering of riders and a few familiar faces, including former All Blacks Conrad Smith and Adrian Cashmore. The K2 riders made their way through the 192k course, taking in the views of Tairua, Whitianga, Coromandel and Thames as the heavy rain hit in the early afternoon.
“The hills were unrelenting”, one rider told event organizers, “or seemed to be towards the end, which probably reflected how tired I was.”
As is to be expected, the race wasn’t without its injuries. A recent New Zealand end-to-end cycling record breaker was forced to exit the race early, after breaking her collarbone. She has since told race organizers “it’s all part of it. I’ll heal. What do you expect, when you ride as much as me? It’s going to happen from time to time... A few weeks and I’ll be back.”
We went into the race knowing that passing the finish line would mark a mighty moment for every rider. However, we underestimated just how mighty some of those moments would be. For many riders, it signified a challenge overcome. For Jono Nelson, the first-ever hand cyclist to participate in K2, it was an opportunity to set a new record: he completed the race in 10 hours and 37 minutes. For Black Spoke riders James Oram, Logan Currie and Hayden McCormick, it was an event that allowed them to charge through the tough weather into first, second and third place - breaking all previous records with a joint time of 4:52:08!
“For most of us Black Spoke riders, it was our first chance to ride the K2”, James told the K2 team. “If it’s in March again next year, I'll definitely be back.”
For MitoQ’s John Marshall, K2 was a way to show himself and his family just how much he was capable of.
“The best moment is when you cross the line and you get a hug with your family. It’s what you do it for”, says John. “Ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things.”