Flying finish finally fulfilled

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PAM.JONES

@alliedpress.co.nz

It took 10 years, but the plan finally came together.

The nine-member Pulse Fitness team’s win in the Alexandra Blossom Festival The News Round the Clock Race last Friday featured a first that took the crowd by surprise.

Mark Hardman, of Cardrona, did his section of the race by parapente, taking off from above the clock and gliding down to the Linger and Die area, where he handed the baton to team member Trevor Breen, who ran to the finish line.

It was all part and parcel – and permitted in – a race where “anything goes” and the only rule is only non-motorised methods can be used in the race. In previous events other team members have ridden horses and dogs have carried batons.

Breen said he was “stoked” the plan came together. Hardman had been waiting above the clock three times in the last 10 years with his parapente during the race but weather conditions had never permitted it.

This year the timing was tight and logistics took a bit to organise.

Hardman only confirmed he could compete at 2pm on event day and arrived in time for a test flight at 4.30pm (the event started at 5.15pm).

A biker then had to be ready above the clock to do his section in case the parapenter could not fly, as Hardman said he would only decide if he would parapente down just as the team member arrived with the baton.

“It was absolutely last minute. He said he would only decide in the last five seconds,” Breen said.

Hardman took off and his landing was “100% spot on” although he did have “two or three get out of jail places” to land if wind or other factors had changed things, Mr Breen said.

“He’s a very experienced parapenter. He did it perfectly.”

Mr Breen, who helped bring the Round the Clock race back to the blossom festival programme almost 10 years ago, has been part of winning Breen Construction teams in the event before but said he “defected” this year to help put together a Pulse Fitness team to boost the number of teams in the event.

Pulse Fitness won in 6min 12sec.

Winners of the other categories were James Brent (Alexandra), open individual (8.38); Sophie Williamson (Alexandra), first woman (9.15); Coby Pope, (Alexandra), school individual (9.53); Sarah Gunn (Roxburgh), first female school individual (9.57); school teams, Alexandra Primary School (6.31).