Decorated track athlete, mountain runner, triathlete, road cyclist and now mountain biker Kate McIlroy will look to add yet another title to her burgeoning CV when she tackles the 47km Macpac Motatapu Mountain Bike course on March 14.
Incredibly given that varied and hugely successful career, McIlroy has not taken on the iconic ride from Glendhu Bay to Arrowtown before and can’t wait to add the event to her list of achievements.
“Macpac Motatapu is an event I have always wanted to do but the timing has never worked out. I have been on start lines since I was seven years old and I still love the buzz you get from racing. To race a new event in a beautiful location has a huge appeal to me, along with the challenge of riding a new trail.”
It is literally a trail that is only opened once a year for competitors, with the ride traversing through iconic off-road course taking in the Motatapu, Soho and Glencoe stations. Add to that mix a number of river crossings, climbs and a few descents and you have a great day of riding for all ages and abilities.
McIlroy these days mixes her sport with a fulltime job in Wellington, a move that ironically has her enjoying these sorts of opportunities even more. And the 38-year-old is happy with her form, coming off a good performance at the recent New Zealand Road Cycling Nationals and a victory at the Karapoti Classic.
“I'm pretty happy with my form, Nationals was a tough race, being in the chase of four for 50km means there is no hiding or getting a free ride. I just didn't have that extra 1% to finish it off.
“Karapoti is one tough ride, my nationals build up which was predominantly on the mountain bike helped! I'm putting it up there with one of the hardest races I have done - full gas for 2hrs 47 in mud, massive puddles and clay really hurts.”
Despite that performance and back to back wins at The Pioneer, fueled by Nutri-Grain, McIlroy continues to learn the art of riding on the dirt.
“It is improving. I managed to ride almost the whole rock garden at Karapoti which was massive progress from last year where I slid down parts of it on my back! I still need to learn how to wheelie and jump, it’s a continual work in progress - but when you have rehabbed the number of injuries I have in my career, the sensible side of me kicks in a bit and puts bit of a halt on things. I probably need to start with embracing baggies first!”
McIlroy has represented New Zealand on the track (steeplechase), in mountain running (World Champion 2005), in triathlon (10th at the London Olympics), road cycling (2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games) and has in recent times turned to mountain biking for her sporting fix, winning back to back Pioneer titles with Amy Hollamby.
The 47km Macpac Motatapu mountain bike journey takes riders from Glendhu Bay at Lake Wanaka, through the valley with 1214m of climbing before riders head to the finish line at Wilcox Green in Arrowtown.