Press Release by Derek Morrison
The hills encircling the city skyline above Dunedin, New Zealand, will come to life over the weekend for the Emerson's 3 Peaks Enduro mountain biking race, which has attracted an international field of riders.
Riders gather at the start line at the summit of Flagstaff for the 2015 Urge 3 Peaks Enduro mountain biking race held in Dunedin, New Zealand. November 28, 29, 2015
Paul van der Ploeg, of Mt Beauty, Australia, will be joined by Frenchman Thomas Bailly as the lead international riders vying for a podium spot from local favourites Justin Leov, of Blenheim, Jimmy Pollard, of Queenstown, Keegan Wright, of Rotorua and Dunedin riders, Leighton Kirk and Ethan Glover in the men's. In the women's Nina Arnold, of Whistler, Canada, will be up against former local Anja McDonald, now of Nelson, with reigning champion Rae Morrison relegated to media duties while carrying an injury.
Justin Leov will be the favourite going into the 2016 Emerson's 3 Peaks Enduro to be held in the hills above, Dunedin, New Zealand, from December 3-4, 2016.
Race founder Kashi Leuchs, of Bike Otago, said the race had a few surprises in store for riders come the start on Saturday.
"We can let people know now that we actually have a few new tracks in the course," he laughs. "We kept that really hush, hush because we didn't want riders out practising these new trails, but essentially what we've done is to clear some older tracks that had become overgrown and hadn't been used for some time."
Kashi said it was important to have something fresh for riders.
"The first track of the race, The Pepper Tree Track, will probably see a few wide eyes as they come down the trail," he offers. "It's not easy – if it was to rain we wouldn't be able to run that course – it's probably a bit too scary for that. But it is a nice part of Dunedin, set in beautiful bush and it's great to be able to showcase that."
The event is ranked as an Enduro World Series (EWS) Qualifier race in 2016 and marks the first time local brewery Emerson's has been on board as title sponsor.
"We have more international riders that we have ever had before and that's clearly thanks to the Enduro World Series qualifier status," Kashi explains. "From what I am hearing there are some very good international riders here as well. They're not just tourists coming to experience the race – they're top riders chasing EWS qualifying. I think they may surprise a few of the faster locals."
A rider heads across the skyline during the 2015 Urge 3 Peaks Enduro mountain biking race held in Dunedin, New Zealand.
One of the masters of the Dunedin trails and a leading EWS rider, Justin Leov, is returning for the race from his new home in Blenheim.
"It's wonderful to have Justin back here," states Kashi. "He is obviously a big part of Dunedin mountain bike culture and one of the best enduro riders in the world right now. Despite his tough year this past season, he's still got the speed to be up there in the top of any EWS race, so to have someone of his calibre here with us is fantastic."
Organised by local bike shop Bike Otago in conjunction with Mountain Biking Otago, the 2016 Emerson's 3 Peaks Enduro features stages on each of the three tallest peaks surrounding Dunedin's CBD: Flagstaff (668m), Mt Cargill (676m) and Signal Hill (393m) over two days of racing.