Peak to Pub is an annual race that held in Canterbury at the late part of the ski season. It involves a combination of skiing, biking and running to get from the top of Mt. Hutt ski field to the pub at Methven. The event can be undertaken as a three-person team, with each person completing one of the stages, or as a solo effort.
The following list covers various things that might be useful for anyone wanting to get involved, based on my experience of completing the event as part of a team and also going it solo.
The start line is at the top of Mt. Hutt ski field. To the sound of a shotgun blast, competitors run a couple of hundred metres to their skis or snowboard. Clipping in, it’s then a carnage-filled run down the mountain to the first transition stage. Ditching the skis for wheels, an 18km bike ride along a (mostly downhill) access road takes you to the second transition.
From there it’s 12km of foot-powered fun – with a brief swim. Negotiating a river bed that may be in various stages of flow, you emerge back onto tarmac and onto the most mentally demanding section of the course. To put in context, the highlight is jumping into a chilly irrigation channel for a brief swim to the other side.
Drenched and panting, the final leg is along a woodlands track that brings you to Methven and a slip and slide over the finish line. Easy.
The fastest way down the mountain is via the means you are most comfortable with, whether that is ski or snowboard. If you want to shave a few seconds off your time, then a cheeky pre-wax will no doubt speed things along.
It’s worth noting that you immediately drop into a black run with about 100 other people, so a degree of control when travelling at speed and blocking out distractions, i.e. tumbling competitors, is required to negotiate the course and arrive safely at the bottom. You also get one practice run of the slalom course included with your entry.
Get yourself on a 29er with a large chainring at the front to increase the km/hr on the access road. Putting some extra pressure in the tyres will help in the pedal-ly sections, but be mindful that there are plenty of gravel corners to be negotiated at speed, so a bit of grip wouldn’t go amiss.
Some goggles/eyewear isn’t a bad shout either, as well as some gloves to stave off wind-chill and maintain dexterity for when you need to brake.
Although riding in clips may help a bit on the pedal-ly sections, the chances are that any time you save will be cancelled out by having to change into running shoes at the second transition.
This is quite simple – a pair of comfy running shoes
As it’s the shortest part of the race, I’d say that more time is lost in the transition (before and after) than on the ski slope itself. If you’re after a podium, then practice running in ski boots and quickly clipping into your skis. For maximum comedic value, I’d suggest doing what my mate did and go to a public place one evening on the Port Hills and run around in your ski boots.
The second longest section of the race, there are two areas may be improved: general fitness and gear-awareness.
There is more up on the access road than you might expect, and being able to hit the inclines at speed will keep your momentum going.
Secondly, get used to going fast, really fast. There are stories of people getting up to terrifying speeds on the access road. Just mind those corners.
For my money, this is where the race is won or lost. The route covers two terrains – rocky, muddy river bed and incredibly dull straight road.
Any training for the riverbed should be along the lines of familiarising yourself with running along uneven, wet and slippery ground.
For me, the road felt more of a mental battle than anything fitness related. It's totally flat, so the best training I could suggest is finding a long straight road to practice on and get used to plodding. The distance is sufficient to justify getting the fitness up a bit. If nothing else, it'll reduce the time you're running.
The brief swim is nothing to be too concerned with. It's a couple of metres, just remember to swim diagonally upstream to account for the current so that you don't miss the net you need to climb out. If you don't fancy a dip, then there is a bridge about a kilometre upstream.
I think the key thing here is clothing. If you can get away with skiing and biking in running gear, then take the hit while you’re milling about at the top of the mountain waiting for the shotgun to fire.
At the transition between the ski and bike, it's quite common to see a small army of people descend on the athlete like a Formula 1 pit crew with ski boots being switched over to running shoes. Keep the helmet and gloves on and get riding.
The bike to run is as complicated as you want to make it. Ditch the helmet and gloves, or keep them, whatever takes your fancy.
So you’ve pumped your tyres up nice and hard, run about in the Port Hills in your ski boots, and spent hours on the long straight roads of the Canterbury Plains, and now you’re ready to crush the competitors.
That is until you remember the fourth discipline of Peak to Pub – logistics. If you are completely solo, with no support crew, then contact Mt Hutt Shuttles who can help you out. We had friends who were skiing that day who were able to bring our ski gear back, along with the padlocked bikes at the second transition.
If you're as a team, then it's a bit simpler as each proceeding person can bring their gear along. But remember, the trade-off of simpler logistics is balanced out by only receiving one beer per team. So I guess it depends on how much you want that bottle of Speights at the end of it.
For more information check out the website, www.peak2pub.co.nz or pop in store to have a chat with one of the team.
Written by adventure lover Ian Middleton
Read More of Ians work at www.entertainingadventures.com