The Prospector wrapped its second time on the Central Otago events calendar at the weekend after attracting the creme de la creme of New Zealand mountain bike riders.
One of the founders believes it has the potential to cement Alexandra as a mountain biking magnet on the world stage.
More than 160 riders competed across the three days.
Race director and founder James Williamson said it was conceived during New Zealand’s first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.
“We started out with an idea that was born out of lockdown actually, myself and Phil Oliver . . . we knew what we had here was perfect.”
While the mountain biking terrain around Alexandra was no secret to locals, he believed the race had the potential to put Alexandra on the mountain biking map, first in New Zealand and then for the world.
Australian competitors arrived for the event’s second iteration.
One arrival from Australia was Samara Sheppard, originally from Clyde.
Sheppard, who was competing in the open mixed teams event with her Australian fiance Kyle Ward Kiwi and a Kookaburra was special to be home after more than two years away due to Covid-19 border restrictions.
The health professional, now based in Wollongong, NSW, is an Oceania and national champion, and dominated the mixed category with Ward.
“To have someone the whole way round to enjoy it with you is cool,” Sheppard said.
A fraction of a second separated the two top men’s teams after 56km in the second race on Sunday.
It was Josh Burnett and Ben Oliver of team Mito QT NZ who reigned supreme for a second year at Matangi Station MTB.
The Talley’s Team, made up of Cameron Jones and Matt Wilson, could not shake the strong pair.
Mary Gray and Sarah Ward Gilbert (Powered by MitoQ) showed pure class, with a clean sweep of stage wins and a strong finish on the last day giving them 25 minutes over Erin Greene and Hannah Millar (Giro Giraffes).
The 2022 Prospector had a full list of 200 riders but lost a few just before the event. Despite this, it is one of the only events still on the calendar and a perfect warm up before athletes head off on the World Cup circuit and gain points for Commonwealth Games selection.
The event hosts categories for individual athletes from young to old, and teams.
Riders enjoyed the spectacular high country stations of Matangi Station MTB and Earnscleugh Station in the Central Otago riding hub of Alexandra.