Calling all athlete swimmers, mountain bikers, kayakers and runners – Suqian wants you!
During the Invercargill City Council delegation’s visit to Suqian in August 2017, delegates and the Mayor of Suqian City signed a Memorandum of Understanding which includes agreements to streamline opportunities in the trade, sports, tourism, education and health sectors.
Following the success of rugby coach Kaleni Taetuli, who was invited to represent Invercargill in Suqian for a year coaching schoolgirl rugby, Suqian’s leaders seek to further strengthen sporting ties by requesting promotion in their annual multisport event, the Eco-Quadrathlon.
The Eco-Quadrathalon held in 2017 had New Zealand represented on every step of the podium, and Kiwis forming part of, if not all of the teams in first, second, and third place, taking out tens of thousands of US dollars in prize money.
Councillor Alex Crackett, a member of the delegation to visit Suqian, said that as a Councillor, Chair of Ride Southland, and a member of the Venture Southland Sub-Committee she has undertaken to spread the word about the Eco-Quadrathlon to Invercargill sport clubs, organisations and athletes, and encourage them to consider participating in the multisport event.
“I take my hat off to the participants of the physically demanding event, where teams of four complete a course including a 2km swim, a 128km mountain bike ride, a 55km kayak and a 43km GPS navigation based run,” she said.
“This prestigious multi-disciplined event is as much a cultural opportunity as a sporting one, and I would encourage potential participants to get in touch with any questions or queries, don the training gear and get prepared for this world-class international endurance event.”
Multisport athlete Richard Ussher was one of the four New Zealanders in the team which placed second, and has competed in about 100 international multisport events during the past 15 years. His team mates were Challenge Wanaka 2017 Champion Dougal Allan and Coast to Coast 2017 winners Sam Clark and Elina Ussher.
Mr Ussher said competing in China presented different challenges to competing in New Zealand, in ways that some might not expect. For example, Luoma Lake, in which competitors must complete the swim and kayak parts of the event, was “full” of fishing nets which had to be navigated around, he said.
The “long, brutal” race took the top three teams about 15 hours to complete, with the remaining competitors taking 22 hours or more, Mr Ussher said. A big part of the GPS navigated run was completed at night, and the team ran through “what looked like some really picturesque gardens in the pitch black of night,” and they could spot some old temples lit up in the area too.
While multisport events might be something of a “minority” sport in New Zealand, China successfully attracts many Kiwis to compete in their many multisport events, particularly because of their excellent prize packages, Mr Ussher said. “In terms of a minority sport, the prize money is a big carrot to go over there.”
The race itself was also really well run, and organisers took good care of competitors, he said. “They’re well used to dealing with foreign athletes … you do get looked after pretty well … we had no complaints.” – Hannah McLeod