Race Report: EWS Asia Pacific Continental Series - Nelson NZ

Oct 28, 2019
by Matt Wood  
Words // Michael Hayward | Photography // Digby Shaw, Matt Wood, Henry Jaine

It was second time lucky for the Aorere Enduro. The EWS Asia Pacific Continental round, held in Nelson, New Zealand, was planned for February but had to be cancelled because of a huge nearby fire that burned through over 2400 hectares of forest and forced 3000 people to evacuate their homes.

Nelson’s expansive trail network has a reputation for long, steep and root-filled technical tracks through spectacular native bush. Known as New Zealand’s sunshine capital, Nelson lived up to its blue sky reputation for the three days, five-stage event. Almost 200 people lined up, with about two-thirds making the trip from out of town. The race is named after the te reo Māori word for the area, meaning fleeting or flying clouds.

The event was hosted by the Nelson Mountain Bike Club, relying on hard working volunteers and loads of support from the bike-mad local community to make it happen. Race director Hamish Berkett said he was gutted the event had to be cancelled in February just a day before it was due to start, but it was great to get such superb conditions the second time around. He said some rain earlier in the week had left the trails running perfectly, showcasing Nelson mountain biking at its best.

Aorere Enduro

After practising four stages on the first day, riders started day two with a pedal up to practice the Aorere trail, a highlight of Nelson’s trail network due to its length and variety. After lunch, they were shuttled back up the hill to repeat it on the clock. The 4 kilometre trail dropped more than 600 vertical metres, with the fastest racer finishing in about 9 minutes 30 seconds.

Rae Morrison and Lou Kelly push towards the highest point of the enduro. Fringed Hill is 793m above sea level with tasman bay beyond

The second day of racing was a mix of long and physical technical trails, including the mammoth 5 kilometre Te Ara Koa trail (which means “pathway to happiness” in Māori) that drops about 750 vertical metres through lush native forest, and the Rimu and Mataī trails, a janky technical run that tested the limits of riders’ bike-handling skills.

The race finished on a high note with Smasher, a steep and fast track that dropped through a pine forest and finished with a dusty chute lined by hundreds of screaming fans.

Though racing was tight, there was a relaxed vibe over the three days, and a real community feel due to hordes of fans, army of volunteers and the staunch support from several local businesses.

Beautiful morning sun greeted riders on Te Ara Koa

Shannon Hewetson was the fastest man, finishing the five stages in 34:12.49, ahead of Todd Ballance (34:37.75) and Levi Healey-Furniss (35:02.06).

Hewetson said he came into his own on the longer stages, which he put down to the eight weeks of “pretty hard” training he put in ahead of the race.

He said there was a good range of trails in the race, including the “curveball” of the Rimu and Mataī, which some locals did not often ride.

EWS regular Raewyn Morrison proved too slick for the women’s field, posting a time of 40:02.82.
Morrison said she hadn’t planned to race and had just had a month off, but got FOMO at the last minute.
She said the event had a relaxed vibe but serious racing.
bigquotesThe win was an absolute bonus, but riding with my mates and being part of the event was amazing

Rae Morrison parting the crowds on final stage

In second place was 15-year-old Rebecca Hufflett in 41:21.93 with Louise Kelly slotting into third in 42:04.82.
Hufflett was only 10 seconds back on Morrison after 11 minutes of racing down the first stage.
She said it was her first EWS-style race and she wanted to find a solid pace she could maintain and not push too hard.

Local Lass Bex Hufflett tucking into an awkward left.

Pre-race briefing.

Local Iwi and caretakers of the forest Ngati Koata opened the event with a traditional blessing.

Aorere Enduro
Erik Hall digging deep in the bowl.

Max Hides smashing turns on smasher trail.

Aorere Enduro
"Aorere trail destroyed my wheel but won my heart" - Pete Robinson.

Aorere Enduro
A brief respite from the deep woods on Stage one.

Dave Blower laying it in before laying it out.

Dust bath for a dusty boy.

Aorere Enduro
Watch out for Bradley Harris, first time riding in Nelson, he nailed down third under 21 behind two very fast locals

Riders were anxious to check their splits after day one.

Beers for the boys.

Ben Karalus takes time out from engineering degree to write a paper in body English.

Andy Reid deep in the natives on Aorere trail.

Nelson old boy Kieran Bennett using every cornering knob on his back tyre.

Party lines only for overall winner Shannon Hewetson.

Aorere Enduro
The two fastest humans on the day.



1 - Shannon Hewetson - 34:12.49

2 - Todd Ballance - 34:37.75

3 - Levi Healey-Furniss - 35:02.06

4 - Ben Karalus 35:03.12

5 - Loui Harvey 35:05.58


1 - Raewyn Morrison - 40:02.82

2 - Rebecca Hufflett - 41:21.93

3 - Louise Kelly - 42:04.82

4 - Amber Werensteyn - 43:11.75

5 - Anja Mcdonald - 44:12.49

Full results are here.


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 Yeeaaahh Loui! Fifth even with munted hands

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