After three long years Zespri AIMS Games made its return. Restarting such a massive tournament with over 10000 students, 320 schools, 1800 volunteers and 23 sports is no easy task. But wider AIMS team pulled it together to get the gears back into motion once again.

We were excited to be hosting the Mountain Biking event once again at the beautiful Summerhill MTB Park. The weather turned it on for a few days while the racing was happening. We were lucky enough to have Laser Eye Centre on board as our Code Sponsor. Giant Bicycles New Zealand and Camelbak New Zealand donating some generous prizes for our place getters and a few lucky spot prize winners.

Although the Cross Country and Enduro race days saw some beautiful weather, it was anything but calm in the lead up to the race. With over 40 different volunteers helping to deliver the event throughout the week a big focus of our manpower was directed towards getting and keeping the trails in tip top condition. With high winds and significant rainfall on the days leading up to the event, there were some challenges to overcome for the delivery crew.

The weather conditions settled for registration and practice as we saw the first of our 360 different riders start to trickle into the venue prepped for the Cross Country and Enduro Events. Students from Kerikeri through to Christchurch along with family, teachers and supporters, made for quite the turnout on the event day.

Wednesday saw the Cross Country racing with our Year 7 and 8 boys and girls tackling two laps of the 5km circuit. The course allowed for epic spectator viewing and was in top shape thanks to Mountainbike Tauranga. The club really turned it on for the event with plenty of volunteers helping out and great trails offered to the students. A particular highlight was the Hoekey Pokey section of trail which saw some jump, berm and climbing action, all condensed into one area which allowed for an epic spectator atmosphere as you could see riders on about five different sections of trail over four or so minutes.

We wrapped up the Cross Country Day with our prizegiving, a word from our venue host Summerhill, Club president and a few games to engage the students. This saw wheelie competitions, running races and all sorts of organised chaos to entertain everyone. Our four winners were SOPHIE ARCHER, Saint Kentigern College, COOPER MCMORRAN, Berkley Normal Middle School, SOPHIA WESTON, Wadestown School and ALEX BOTHA, Howick Intermediate.

Thursday saw the riders take on Summerhills’ first ever Enduro event with simultaneously running stages. This was a big logistical challenge for the organisers but worked out come race day with good preparation. The riders took on GT Track, Flying Mullet and Beeftub. These three high speed tracks saw plenty of jumps, berms, a few ruts, technical sections, water crossings and more to challenge the riders. Local bike store, Cycle Obsession was setup with an onsite workstation to help keep the bikes in check and we had two Camelbak water stations to keep the riders hydrated out there.

The Event Director had a few challenges throughout the day but nothing that couldn’t be overcome and lead to a successful day. Come prizegiving the event had an informal stoppie competition which had the engagement of over 40 different students along with a volunteer competition to see who could manage the best wheelie. This made for fun and games when giving out our prizes donated by Giant and Camelbak. The times came in and we had some tight racing on a few stages of the high speed course. Our eventual winners were BAXTER SURREY, Highlands Intermediate, JAXON MAIR, Otumoetai Intermediate, ADDISON RUTHERFURD, Mangorei School, POPPY RICHARDSON, Mount Maunganui College.

Between the efforts of AIMS Games, Mountainbike Tauranga, DirtCraft, Summerhill and everyone else who pitched in the event was a huge success with overwhelming positive feedback from students and spectators. We had no major injuries, an amazing course and brought in more than $7000 for Mountainbike Tauranga, Summerhill and the DirtCraft Development Squad which is a huge injection to the local Mountain Biking community for their efforts to deliver the event. With plenty of exciting plans for 2023 including the reintroduction of a team’s event, there is so much to look forward to. Right now, DirtCraft is focusing on building and delivering a range of other new events.

Tristan Haycock – Mountain Biking Event Director & DirtCraft Founder

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