Photo Story: Matt Fairbrother Wins NZ MTB Rally Entirely Self-Supported

Mar 16, 2024 at 4:02
by Ali Jamieson  


Let's start with the stats, like a sledgehammer in the face. Over six days, 27 stages, 12,357m of Descending and 165 km, Matt's winning time on-stage was 02:48:53. Put into perspective, that's not far off Richie Rude's total race time for his entire 2023 EDR season. Take our word for it, these were definitely not cruisy trails either, being mostly black or double-black diamond graded, and all of them raced blind.

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But that was the easy part. Because, for reasons known only to Fairbrother and similarly deranged super-humans including Forest Gump, Rambo, and Buzz Lightyear, Matt took on The NZ MTB Rally in his signature, entirely unsupported style. Not only did this involve pedalling or hiking up all the ascents whilst all his competitors took 4x4 shuttles and heli-drops, it included huge overnight transitions through mountainous terrain. All this, whilst everyone else enjoyed a hot-cooked dinner, some R&R, a comfy bed, and a slap-up breakfast before a comfortable coach ride to the next day’s race location. As if that wasn’t enough, Matt carried his own kit & tools, ate only what he carried or could buy from local outlets, and slept in a bivy which he also carried around with him throughout the week.

All-in, Fairbrother clocked up a monstrous 582km (361 miles) and 17,382m (57,027 ft) of elevation in completing this herculean race-within-a-race.

Still not tough enough for you? We haven’t yet mentioned Matt’s 6-and-a-half-hour, 37 km overnight kayak transition in seriously tough sea conditions…when everyone else jumped on a sunrise catamaran transition across the Tasman Bay, whilst enjoying breakfast and fresh coffee served on-board.

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Riders passing Matt in the opposite direction, already en route to their next Stage, who unlike Matt, were only too glad to take the Heli-drop option

In spite of all this, Matt somehow managed to muster enough energy, skill, concentration and endurance, to finish ahead of Kiwi Pinner Chris Allman, Pinkbike's Matt Beer (himself a former Canadian National DH Champion).

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Matt Fairbrother
Age: 19
Height: 170cm / 5'7"
Weight: 74 kg / 163 lb
Residence: Christchurch, New Zealand
Sponsors: Deviate, WorldWide Cyclery, Trailone Components, Ergon, Mons Royale, Motorex Bike, Ride Fox, Race Face, Shimano, Crankbrothers, Cushcore, Tailfin Cycling, POC Sports
Instagram:@matthewfmtb


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Matt, offering a friendly kiwi g'day to others taking the Heli-drop option as he made the long, slow, hike up the trail down below. It's not for him, and he certainly doesn't need it to win the damn race!

Rather obviously, this frankly ridiculous feat did not come easy, even for someone like Fairbrother who is already renowned for his insane self-supported transitions between EWS races. Perhaps the lowest ebb for both Matthew and our race medics who were monitoring his health throughout the week, was on Day 4. Matt, in typical style, was already waiting for our mountain marshal crew first thing in the morning at the top of Stage 1; having bivied out at the base of the mountain and hiked up in the early twilight hours. This, whilst everyone else flew in directly overhead by helicopter to within metres of the start gate.

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Low on sleep and nutrition and severely fatigued from his relentless journey, Matt smashed out a 3rd place result on the stage, but then collapsed over the finish line with blood streaming from his nose, even momentarily losing consciousness. Medics were on-scene quickly and after taking on more fluids and food, Matt’s condition was assessed. For the record, even this emergency nutrition was self-provided my Matt himself, who consistently and steadfastly refused any form of outside assistance throughout the week. Whilst obviously a little concerned, the medical assessment was that Matt should be allowed to continue the race, but with close monitoring at the start and end of each further stage. Fortunately, Matthew managed to recover, and incredibly, even go on to win all 3 of the remaining stages of the day.

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Hike-a-bike in the roughest of terrains is just another day in the office for Fairbrother

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Matt spent most of his week doing the hard-yards, whilst being somewhat rudely overtaken by The Rally's 4x4 shuttle fleet

For Fairbrother, it wasn’t all suffering. There were certainly moments of joy, too. A particular highlight surely must have been at around midnight, in the middle of open ocean and at least 15km from the nearest shoreline in borderline weather conditions, Matthew was surprised by the sight of a large fin, appearing out of the water in front of him and only a few metres from his kayak. One can only imagine what he must have felt at that moment. But Matt’s momentary terror soon turned to joy, as the pod of a dozen dolphins revealed themselves, and then proceeded to accompany Matt for around an hour, jumping out of the water all around him as he paddled along. We’d have thought it was Matt’s own fatigue-induced hallucinations, had the moment not been caught on camera by his safety boat.


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Each day everyone was amazed to discover that Matthew was top 3, if not outright fastest...whilst covering several times more ground than everyone else in the race

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Matt was up before sunrise each day after grabbing only a couple of hours sleep in his bivy, in order to be on time at the top of the first stage

In spite of what must have been the extremest of tests of both mental and physical endurance, perhaps the most impressive feat of all was Fairbrother’s attitude and good humour throughout the week. Matt always took the time to chat with fellow racers at the start and finish of each stage, and remained extremely humble even at the podium, when it was confirmed that indeed, the boundaries of what is humanly possible on an MTB had just been smashed out of the park by this unassuming 19-year old. In fact, throughout the entire challenge, he was only once heard to raise his voice in anger or frustration - certainly excusable considering he’d just been attacked and bitten on the hand by a rogue wild rodent, even drawing blood. (You just couldn’t make this stuff up!). Our crew were on hand to make a swift and decisive example of the critter. No-one messes with The Fairbrother!


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Matthew Fairbrother looking remarkably fresh given the circumstances; taking of his gloves for the last time of the week. Proud to have achieved his goal to completing this crazy race entirely unsupported, but at this moment, unaware that remarkably, he'd also secured the winning overall time. Congratulations, Champ!


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MATTHEW FAIRBROTHER takes the win after 6 days of enduro racing, with his personal total of 582km and +17,300m of elevation, versus 165km and only 4245m of climbing for everyone else. Kiwi Chris ALLMAN came second, with Canadian Matt BEER (Pinkbike's very own Tech Editor) finishing in 3rd. The time across all 27 race stages totalled almost 3 hours for each of the winners (and a lot more than that, for everyone else!).

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The local legend and well-known international racer, Raewyn Morrison takes the win in the female category, and is 5th overall! Congratulations

A final indication of the mental fortitude required to even consider such an insane challenge in the first place, was hidden in Matt’s parting comments. When asked about how he felt about this incredible achievement, rather than revel in the enormity of what he had just done, Fairbrother was already thinking ahead to his next challenge:

“Yeah, it was pretty epic. I’m not really sure how I’m going to top this one…but I’ve got a few ideas in the pipeline”.

We’re certainly looking forward to hearing more about what they might be, although God only knows how he’s going to surpass himself this time.

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There’s so much more to this incredible story, and you’ll get to hear and read about it soon in an extended documentary following Matt’s progress throughout his incredible challenge. Watch this space.

Our final race report summing up Days 5 & 6 of The NZ MTB Rally will be released tomorrow, but you can jump right into the first 4 days of action and full race results, in our previous Pinkbike reports.

Matt Beer will be giving us his own views on The NZ MTB Rally; on the technical and bike setup considerations to get through his week of racing and on bagging his own place on the podium; in a separate Pinkbike report - coming soon.

Author Info:
NZMTBRally avatar

Member since Nov 15, 2023
7 articles

102 Comments
  • 192 1
 Dude is an absolute freak athlete with an iron will. Not many people on the entire planet that can do something like this.
  • 40 0
 Id guess there's about 1
  • 71 1
 I think this is PB's performance of the season wrapped up. Honestly I hope this gets press outside the mtb world because it's a feat of athleticism that's insane no matter what sport you're from
  • 21 2
 Must be interesting to be 19 and already a legend.
  • 55 1
 It's not just the athleticism, Fairbrother embodies the ethos and spirit that forged this sport in ways we haven't seen in a single individual in a long, long time. Self-reliance, fortitude, sacrifice, adventure, risk, trailblazing. To see him breathe the full force of this spirit back into the specialized world of modern gravity racing makes this 40yr veteran of the sport grin like a kid as I get to my feet to applaud. Standing ovation kid!
  • 42 1
 Can we make this the first “Must Read” article? Arguably the gnarliest thing ever done on a bike deserves it
  • 24 0
 @theging: We couldn't agree more. A truly mindboggling performance. It just doesn't make any sense that he could do this, AND still take the win overall. And yet...his times don't lie.
Feeling humbled, and also a tad confused!
  • 102 1
 What an absolutely awesome performance. Honestly this is so much more impressive and inspiring than winning a world cup, world championships or even the damn olympics. I don't even care what else might still happen, to me this is the performance of the year. Because THIS is the spirit of enduro. This is what enduro racing should be all about. No damn e-bikes, no shuttle trucks, no uplifts, no helicopters. Just pure fitness, skill and unrelenting resolve.
  • 2 1
 Performance of next 3 years to be fair, editors just hand out the rewards
  • 7 0
 Next year FairDuro category
  • 2 14
flag BlindMan77 (Mar 17, 2024 at 8:04) (Below Threshold)
 Simmer down now. When your 54 like me and been riding since you were 5, an e-bike makes you feel 19 again. lol.
  • 1 1
 Well said.
  • 53 1
 That is the spirit of Enduro.

(Not Heli Bros on Mofas)


Well done!
  • 41 1
 "MATTHEW FAIRBROTHER takes the win after 6 days of enduro racing, with his personal total of 582km and +17,300m of elevation, versus 165km and only 4245m of climbing for everyone else"

What the hell!? These stats are absolutely insane!
  • 20 1
 agreed, its mind-blowing... for anyway playing along that's and average of 97km per day and 2,880m climbing... every..day
  • 4 5
 ...19 years old
  • 2 1
 @dendens: if just only that... but you have to add poor sleep and food... man HTH
  • 3 0
 So I guess he lapped them? Twice.
  • 43 3
 I’m not really one for being interested in feats of endurance but holy moly this one is incredible!! What a story, what a ride, what a bloke!
  • 18 94
flag MattQEkBp1 (Mar 16, 2024 at 9:06) (Below Threshold)
 The fact that he spanked the other gravity racers makes it’s so cool, I wanna suck him off
  • 27 0
 @MattQEkBp1: Why is this guy not banned? Clearly just a troll account with pretty much nothing but negative, instigating and disgusting posts.
  • 7 43
flag MattQEkBp1 (Mar 16, 2024 at 14:03) (Below Threshold)
 @gnarnaimo: what where I come from offering to suck someone off is the nicest thing you can do
  • 2 26
flag sanchofula (Mar 16, 2024 at 15:41) (Below Threshold)
 @MattQEkBp1: I get it, as do done others, but homophobia is rampant on testosterone forums like PB, so don’t be offended.
  • 8 29
flag MattQEkBp1 (Mar 16, 2024 at 15:44) (Below Threshold)
 @sanchofula: it’s alright, they just need a good suck off
  • 14 3
 @sanchofula: Yeah, because someone randomly saying want to perform oral sex to someone of the opposite sex would be so appropriate. Does anyone moderate this site? @mikekazimer @brianpark @henryquinney @sarahmoore
  • 6 26
flag MattQEkBp1 (Mar 16, 2024 at 22:07) (Below Threshold)
 @gnarnaimo: you’re being a homophobe, it’s perfectly okay for a man to suck another man’s penis
  • 15 1
 @MattQEkBp1: not the place for this, is it? Website’s called pink bike, not pink rocket.
  • 6 0
 @gnarnaimo: all evidence I've ever seen points to no, it's not moderated.
  • 40 2
 Matt: 30-odd kilometre crossing between New Zealand's north and south island is it? Let me just jump in my kayak and smash that out.

Me: That cloud over there looks a bit dodgy. It might rain. Better stay in.
  • 39 2
 I would not want to meet whatever demons he's running from.
  • 34 9
 The pinkbike comments session
  • 2 10
flag ceecee (Mar 16, 2024 at 15:38) (Below Threshold)
 @MattQEkBp1: next time, try the kissing before the sucking. Many commenters aren't as progressive as you

@gnarnaimo: bans are site anti-traffic. Batman goes where he likes
  • 34 1
 Collapses at the finish line unconscious and bleeding from the nose. "Tis but a scratch!"
  • 7 0
 "what are you going to do, bleed on me?"
  • 1 1
 Impressive as it is I wonder what is the limit when one should know that enough is enough for the body. You can live on gummy bears and coke only for so long before the body says quits.
  • 29 2
 Chuck Norris of Enduro!
  • 1 1
 More like David Goggins of Enduro. Or Chuck Norris and David Goggins combined? That's more like it.
  • 22 1
 Imhate everything about endurance riding. Get me to the top the easiest way possible and make it as much descending as possible, but this rules! He ought to win athlete of the year, cyclist of the year, inspiration of the year and any other “whatever of the year” is out there. An amazing accomplishment that his grandkids will probably think he’s lying about.
“So kids, did I tell you about the time I rode ten times as many miles, climbed 4-5 times more, kayaked across the bay in the middle of the night, got bit by a wild animal, passed out across the finish line and won the race?”.
Can’t give enough props to Sir Fairbrother.
  • 24 2
 Im surprised he hasn’t been recruited by a black ops agency by now. He seems to have all the requisite skills. LOL
  • 19 1
 How do you know he hasn't?
  • 1 1
 Actually though
  • 37 1
 They tried but he refused to get on the helicopter. Preferred to bike and hike instead.
  • 1 1
 maybe he is a blackopp genetic experiment himself and hasn t been told yet...
  • 13 0
 Not only did he manage all this, he was great company too. Always smiling, cracking jokes and talking to the other racers. He's made of some strong stuff to not let the tiredeness show or dissapear into a pain-cave.
  • 3 0
 Yes, he always took the time to chat-smile-laugh and be a good human. Also, always managing and directing his film crew. Bravo to you Matthew!
  • 6 2
 And as if all that wasn't enough he even dispatched a possum. A true Kiwi legend.
  • 16 1
 Athlete of the year. No question.
  • 13 1
 Next up, DAKAR. On an MTB.
  • 12 0
 Matt Beer, too exhausted to comment
  • 11 1
 Don’t F**k with a Fairbrother!
  • 3 5
 Or a Warnerbrother
  • 9 1
 Imagine complaining to the other riders about how much peddling was needed on a section and then turning around to find Matt behind you.
  • 7 1
 i heard that theres a test they did with a bunch of pro athletes where they measured reaction times while fresh and tired after a workout. fresh, the F1 driver(s) won but not by much. tired, everyone else's reaction times were greatly increased, but the F1 drivers reaction times remained pretty much the same. i wonder how Matt's would do, to be able to perform at that level while that tired is absolutely incredible
  • 11 2
 Hey Red Bull….got a helmet for Matt?
  • 8 1
 This dude wins mountain biking! This is what it is all about.
  • 7 0
 This is the craziest story I've ever read.
  • 7 1
 So rad! Even providing his own emergency stuff after collapsing. Legend!
  • 6 0
 Definitely a main character.
  • 6 1
 This is the kinda grit usually reserved for arctic explorers of the 19th century! fairplay fairbrother!
  • 2 0
 Most of the teenage riders here in Adelaide get off and push at the first sign of any ascent - or jump on the nearest shuttle.

This bloke needs to come and give them a lesson in effort. If only 1% rubbed off, they'd all be pedalling everything!

To have someone that young be that focused and driven is very, very rare.

He is a very special human being.
  • 5 0
 Who possibly couldn't be a fan of this awesome athlete. I wonder what's next for Matt.
  • 6 1
 At this rate I'm pretty sure he's capable of anything.
  • 6 1
 Top dude and proper old-school tough. Enjoy the well earned rest!
  • 4 1
 Love this kid, what a legend.
But please give him some heatlhy snacks/meals on go sponsorship.

Thumbs up, hope your shoulder is getting better!
  • 5 0
 Matthew Fairbrother completes mountain biking
  • 2 0
 Here is a video from about half a year ago if you want to learn more about Matthew. What an animal!
"Undefined Limits | The Highland Trail 550 with Matthew Fairbrother"
www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bYwChCSkyQ
  • 6 1
 HERO
  • 6 1
 LEGEND
  • 6 1
 amazing & inspiring
  • 5 1
 I want more stories on this kid. What an impressive human.
  • 5 1
 What an absolute legend! Insanity.
  • 5 1
 Now THAT'S enduro. Also Rae Morrison finishing 5th overall.
  • 5 1
 Athlete of the year award can be give out today.
  • 3 0
 He was the winner without any aid, imagine what could've happened if he did
  • 1 0
 This is awesome. After reading this article, I was shamed into riding my bike the 2.5 miles/400 feet to my trail head rather than driving to save that bit of extra legs. Good work, Fairbrother!
  • 4 1
 What an achievement! Incredible.
  • 3 1
 One of the best things I've ever read about, and not just within MTB! What an absolute champion and inspiration!!
  • 4 1
 Story of the year.
  • 4 1
 Fair enough, brother!
  • 3 1
 what a weapon. good on ya young fulla.
  • 2 0
 Get this guy some sponsors and see what he can do!
  • 1 0
 There is people, and then there is people like Fairbrother. It's amazing amd humbling to get to see what's possible.
  • 1 0
 Legend! Was going to say in the making, as he has so many years ahead of him. But already a LEGEND! Impressive!
  • 2 1
 This feat transcends mtbiking and cience-fiction...
  • 3 1
 Such an inspiration!
  • 2 1
 This is so fantastic. Awesome.
  • 3 1
 Totally Gogginsed it !
  • 2 0
 I tip my hat.
  • 1 0
 Heads up - Chris Allman is English, not a kiwi.
  • 1 0
 He's definitely my favorite athlete to follow
  • 2 1
 Legend
  • 2 1
 Legend
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