Boffa Miskell's Queenstown consultants participated in Peak to Peak, a stunningly scenic one-day multisport race that challenges competitors to test both their physical and mental strength. The event is New Zealand’s longest running winter multisport race.
The five-strong relay team named themselves Freak to Peak and began a programme of in-office training several months ago. The rigorous preparation consisted of a routine of planking and wall-sits each day at three in the afternoon, under the guidance of landscape planner Yvonne Pfluger.
Would this congenial, if not exactly challenging, physical conditioning pay off?
Landscape architect Megan Ash says, “The weather was stunning. We had full sunshine, and there was a lot of equipment chat before the race in regards to what skis to race in, and whether a road bike or mountain bike would be better for the uphill bike climb.”
Office managing partner Chris Ferguson took the anchor leg — a 2km ski from the starting line on the top of The Remarkables to the base station. From the starting line, racers can see the finish point, Coronet Peak, in the distance. With a very fast time of 03:42, Chris put the team in a good position.
However, the Freak to Peak contingent weren’t just racing against other teams. They were racing for office bragging rights, as Yvonne was running the race as a solo competitor. Could the five “Freaks” beat her?
Yvonne got to the bottom of the ski leg before Chris, with a first-place time of 03:17 but due to her solo transition involving having to change from ski boots into cycling shoes and gear, the relay team were marginally ahead going into the bike leg.
After a smooth transition Megan Ash took over for the second leg — a 17km bike down Remarkables Access road (including a small section of snow biking up at the top) and along to Frankton Beach. Megan headed down hill and successfully managed to stay on her bike and avoid skidding out on the gravel.
However it wasn’t long before Yvonne caught up and passed Megan and continued to stay in front of the team, again finishing in first place for her division and gender.
Business services were well-represented by business development advisor Meg Embleton-Muir, who kayaked from Frankton Beach down the 7km length of the Frankton Arm of Lake Wakatipu to the landing spot in Queenstown. Meg finished with a smile on her face and a time of 59:26.
By this point — although kayaking proved her most challenging leg, and she dropped to sixth place among female competitors (and second in her division) — Yvonne was nearly eight minutes ahead of her office mates heading into the 9km run.
Planner Ralph Henderson “surprised everyone and ran the race of his life”, say his teammates, finishing the largely uphill course from Queenstown beach to the base of Coronet Peak in 45:00, just five minutes behind Yvonne’s time of 40:58.
Going into Leg 5, the Freak to Peak team was looking for a strong finish from experienced mountain biker, urban designer Tim Church. With a specially-selected playlist of motivational music blasting in his ears, Tim was fired up and finished strong with a time of 52:52 for a pretty-much-straight-uphill 9km cycle up Coronet Peak Access road.
But it wasn’t enough. Yvonne was the overall fastest female on the uphill bike climb with an incredible time of 48:53, which took her from sixth to fourth place among all female competitors (just 20 seconds off medal pace); and second place in her division.
“I’m happy with my time of 2:50,” says Yvonne, “but I need to improve my paddling. I was just five minutes behind the overall female winner, but she was 10 minutes faster than me on the paddling leg.”
Yvonne was at the finish line to celebrate with the rest of the team, who finished with a time of 3:09:54. “We finished second to last in the team category,” says Megan. “However we all did amazing work in each of our legs, with times that we were all really happy with.”
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16 September 2019