Sam Osborne wins the 2017 Xterra Rotorua. Photo: Stephen Barker/Marathon-Photos.com
That was the case at last Saturday's 15th Xterra Rotorua Festival. I've worked on them since the first year, though I missed 2012 because of illness. I wish I was 15 and zero, but sometimes life intervenes.
This year was the first with no major injury on the mountain bike course - always a satisfying result. It was a gloriously sunny autumn day, though a bit chilly at the Blue Lake/Tikitapu at 7am.
The trails were greasy after the big weather bomb. With some inexperienced riders in the field that can spell trouble. Not this year. The event ran like clockwork - the Xterra team put a well-oiled machine to shame. Rotorua deputy mayor, Dave Donaldson has wrangled the MTB volunteers since year one with his wife, Shreeve, playing a major role on the walking and running course. With everything else they have on, I'm not sure how they do it - but I'm really glad they do.
It's always a wonderful team of people and the last couple of years the Lake Okareka Rural Fire Force have supplied a sizeable number of the marshals. They're a volunteer group, of course, but bring a tonne of expertise and professionalism to the day.
This year the medics on the mountain bike course were from Peak Safety, adding another layer of confidence. Yes, it was a quiet day. That can change in the heartbeat.
The really big bonus was that young local triathlete, Sam Osborne, took top step on the podium. I first met Sam when he was a nipper, over 20 years ago. Always a nice kid, he's grown into a fine young man. There was a lot of whooping and hollering as we passed Planet Bike on the Waipa Bypass Rd on the way out on our Sunday ride.
Sam's mum and dad, Lennore Osborne and Edd Serrallach, run Planet Bike. They are justifiably very proud of Sam. I was talking to Lennore after Sam won Xterra Saipan a few weekends ago, banging on about how Sam had grown up in the Whakarewarewa Forest and that's where a lot of his talent and skill comes from. "You know what," she said. "There's another reason he's so successful - he works really, really hard."
The photo of Sam in last Monday's Rotorua Daily Post was of him crossing the finish line, arms aloft, smiling, triumphant. In some ways, I prefer the one on this page - reflective, quietly realising what he's achieved.
And that lost dog? Well as we were wrapping up for the day, a text came through from her owner. Tess had been found. Perfect.
Next weekend, it's Rotorua's longest running mountain bike race, the annual Nzo Moonride. This was very wisely postponed from the original March date because of a diabolical weather pattern, which means the team from Event Promotions may be looking nervously at the forecast. It is another superb event so my fingers will be well and truly crossed for clear skies and a dry track. Race day is now Saturday April 22 and entry is still open Rotorua Moonride.
Have a peaceful and enjoyable Easter break.
By Graeme Simpson - Rotorua Daily Post