Portegys competed in his first multisport event about 15 years ago.
He teamed up with three of his mates to take on the Goldrush three-day race as a novice team.
‘‘I’d had another mate who had hurt his ankle but ended up coming right and I’d heard it [the race] advertised on the radio. He said why don’t you enter?’’
The group of four ended up second last that year, but all got a taste for the sport.
‘‘The four of us came back the next year and split up into two teams and we just got the bug,’’ he said.
Portegys had always done a bit of running, whether it was training for rugby or just getting out and about but as it turned out he was not that good at it.
He then discovered he was a far better cyclist.
‘‘Back when we did that first Goldrush I only did the running,’’ he said.
Taking on multisport, Portegys had to learn the skills involved with kayaking and cycling.
Then he set his sights on competing in the Coast to Coast, which he did a year after doing his second Goldrush.
That was more than 10 years ago, and since then Portegys has noticed a decline in his chosen sport.
The Goldrush event, which at its peak attracted more than 500 participants, is no longer run, nor are many other events.
‘‘I did 11 of those [Goldrush races]; it’s a real shame,’’ he said.
The Ghost to Ghost, which was held inSt Bathans; the Lake to Lighthouse, at Lake Waikaremoana; the Mt Cook to Christchurch race; the Tuatara race, at Banks Peninsula; and a lot of little multisport races had all been abandoned over the years.
Portegys believed the cause was a combination of things, generally down to a lack of numbers, health and safety concerns, expenses and simply all getting too hard.
The interest in swim triathlons had seen more people competing in that sport rather than multisport as well, he said.
‘‘Kayaking is more difficult to learn.’’
One race Portegys took part in every year was the annual Peak to Peak competition. This year he won the veterans’ section for the second year in a row, beating Steve Gurney by just 36sec.
‘‘It’s [Peak to Peak] popular because it’s got the novelty value, in an iconic venue of two of the most well-known ski fields and through the tourist town,’’ he said.
Some Peak to Peak competitors took part in only that one race each year.
Portegys had also travelled all over the world, competing in a variety of multisport races in South Africa and Australia.
One was the Crocodile Trophy, held in Australia, which went for 10 days over 1250km.
‘‘It started in Cairns and we had 400ml of rain in the first four days . .. it was 43degC heat from then on. That was probably the hardest race I have done,’’ he said.
Others had included the Cape Epic, in South Africa, and the Pioneer, here in New Zealand.
But with a lack of multisport events, Portegys had filled the void with mountain-biking races.
In the summer he could race every weekend, with races happening regularly.
Portegys said he still competed in as many multisport events he could, and encouraged others to get involved.
Events like the Coast to Coast were changing, but it was needed to keep them alive, he said.
One part of the sport people underestimated was not just being fit, but having good nutrition as well.
‘‘I spend a little bit of time with kids, hammering home the importance of good nutrition.’’
Portegys’ son Sam (16) had also been competing in some multisport events and, like his father, had more of an interest in biking.
There was also a multisport club in Central Otago, Southern Lakes Multisport Club, which people could join if they were interested in multisport. – For more information go to www.southernlakesmutlisportclub.com