Interest is building amongst keen multisporters and "weekend warriors" for Queenstown's 2009 The North Face Peak to Peak on July 25, and while last year's winner Glen Currie will compete, it will be his first endurance event since suffering an illness late last year.
Currie spent a month in hospital in December and is looking forward to getting back into competition but thinks it will be a tall order to attempt to defend his title.
"This is the first event like this for me since being in hospital last year and it will be the first real test of my fitness levels. But it will be good to be there."
The unique race literally goes from Peak to Peak starting at The Remarkables on a 2km skiing/snowboarding course finishing at the access road, followed by a 17km mountain bike road down the high altitude road to Lake Wakatipu. A 7km paddle to Queenstown Bay leads to a 9km run from Queenstown via Arthur's Point, to a changeover point near the foot of Coronet Peak, for the final 9km cycle ride to the base buildings at the top of the ski area.
Competition is open to men and women competing in open and veteran classes. The teams’ section includes male, female, mixed, business house, veteran or school.
Director Geoff Hunt says the winter race is always a highlight on the local multisport calendar because it calls for a range of skills, which attracts budding and elite athletes, as well as competitors who like to participate along with colleagues and friends in the highly competitive teams' section.
The North Face Peak to Peak has chosen the Bruce Grant Youth Trust as its charity this year, and is asking all competitors to make a donation to the Trust set up in the name of a young Queenstown adventurer, Bruce Grant, who tragically died in 1995 after summiting K2 Mountain.
"Bruce was a personal friend of mine and an amazing skier, climber and adventurer," says Hunt. "The Peak to Peak incorporates the sort of values he adhered to, and we are very keen to support the Bruce Grant Trust because of the fantastic work it does in the community, providing assistance to young sports people."
Trustee Alexa Forbes says the Bruce Grant Youth Trust is delighted to be the recipient for the event. "The Trust is about raising funds to help young people in the Wakatipu achieve their goals and the support of the Peak to Peak organisers and athletes is inspirational as well as practical. There are no costs associated with the running of the Trust so anyone making a donation can be assured that every dollar collected is a dollar for one of our recipients."
The event is being promoted for the first time this year on Facebook and Hunt says it is proving to be a drawcard.
"Facebook is a hugely popular social networking site and it made sense to promote The North Face Peak to Peak here because friends are keeping in touch with one another and will hopefully encourage each other to compete and create some friendly rivalry. The junior section of the event is growing every year and we want to keep encouraging more younger athletes because they are the future of our sport. Facebook is an excellent way of reaching them."
Entries for the event are still open and details can be found on the web site www.southerntraverse.com with 'The North Face' offering an extra chance to be rewarded with some of their great gear, simply by going into a draw at registration.
The event is supported by a number of different sponsors including The North Face, Coronet Peak and the Remarkables, R&R Sport, Queenstown Gym, Smith Optics, K2 Skis, Dalbello Skiboots, Summerfield's Frankton Pharmacy, Whittakers, Kawarau Jet, Peak Projects and Export 33.
The event starts on the Remarkables at 1200 on Saturday 25th July.