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Flight Centre K2, Coromandel Peninsula

For immediate release 28 October 2017
Flight Centre K2, Coromandel Peninsula

Some very special supporters were on hand at the start of the Flight Centre K2 on Saturday to see Andy Corles off on a challenge that he set himself from a hospital bed three years ago.

Andy is in a wheelchair and has limited use of one arm after the accident in 2014 when his car rounded a bend a kilometre and a half from his Whangapoua home, aquaplaning on wet roads.

This year he was among more than 1000 competitors took part in the Flight Centre K2 – which includes options for a 192km ride around the Coromandel Peninsula, the Cervelo K1 which covers half that distance, and the 50km Nicholas Brown Challenge.

The Flight Centre K2 is renowned as the toughest one-day ride in the country. Cyclists must slog through vertical climbing of 2,300m over a distance of 192km.

Cyclist and former rower Hamish Bond did not finish, coming off his bike on a downhill heading to Thames Coast after a fearsome attack of the longest and toughest hill climb, at Whangapoua on the Coromandel’s east coast.

The Elite Men’s K2 event was won by Sam Horgan in 5hrs 05 27 followed by Bryn Thorne-George – who finished in 2nd after just one year of racing – and Karl Poole. The Women’s winner was Kate McIlroy, with Carol McCallum in 2nd and Amanda Till in 3rd. Teresa Adam won the Women’s Elite K1 in 2hrs 39 14, Deborah Paine 2nd and Grace Anderson 3rd.

The women’s race was hard fought all the way with a tight bunch pushing each other throughout. Kate Mcilroy was just seconds off the first male in the K2 however, at a time of 5hr 31 26, behind K2 Men’s winner Mel Titter at 5hr 31 23, Jack McNeely and Alex Nisbet on a split second difference for 2nd and 3rd.
For Elite men’s winner Sam Horgan, it was all about taking friend Nick Lovegrove’s advice to smash it up the first big hill at Whangapoua. “It was a super tough day out there, and a really great race to experience. That climb over the hill to Coromandel Town definitely wasn’t much fun.”

Each distance starts at a different town on the Coromandel Peninsula. On the Nicholas Browne Challenge, Andy still faced a big hill climb north of Tairua but was supported by wife Shelley, friends Michelle and Karl Fisher – Karl rode with him - and Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter intensive care paramedic Chris Deacon who attended to Andy three years ago at the accident scene.

“You don’t want to underestimate the size of the task he’s doing,” said Chris. “To cycle with his arms when he hasn’t got full use of one of them – I think Andy is an incredible inspiration. He likens each rotation of the pedals to a pushup. Try and do five hours of pushups.

“As much as it is about Andy though, it is about his support around him,” added Chris. “You can’t be an island, and he has his wife Shelley and his mother-in-law Margaret all the way. It goes to show that it’s important to marry the right woman.”

In the months following the accident, Andy made a commitment to make some good out of it. “Andy’s journey started back at the accident and continues today,” said AWRHT Communications Manager Lincoln Davies, who sees many inspirational people in his role. “His mindset pretty much from the accident was ‘I’m determined to make some good out of this’.

Said Andy: “I woke up in a coma and when I woke up I decided there was two things I had to do. One was get a tatoo of my wife and my daughter…the other was to cycle the K2 race, so here I am today doing the 50km.
Andy plans to complete the K1 next year and build up to the K2.

After 4 hours 27 minutes and 28 seconds to the finish line, Andy was still committed to that goal: “It was really tough going up the hills and I had to break a few times coming down in the wet weather, so that I didn’t crash. I’m still planning next year to do the K1, and hopefully after that the K2.”

The Nicholas Brown Challenge is a favourite for families giving the event a go for the first time, or for those wanting to build up to the longer courses. Jaedyn Erikson is the youngest competitor and was cycling alongside his dad Mark.

The event is named for Nicholas Brown who died on 1 December 2007 from a complication with the kidney dialysis that he was receiving. His death came days after Nicholas had completed the K2.

Described by friends as a fierce battler in sport, in the law and in life, he never wanted to be seen or treated as a sick man and sought to continue on as normally as possible and be “the authentic Nicholas”.

His wife Barbarella McCarthy completes the Nicholas Brown Challenge herself in alternate years with the Flight Centre K2. She won her 50km race division this year, followed by friend Megan Bank in 2nd and Georgia King in 3rd. Of the event, Barbarella says: “I’m always immeasurably sad. Nicholas was a great supporter of going out and never using your illness or your disability as an excuse. So, he would be thrilled to see the kids here and Andy here.

“That’s what the quarter k ride is about. Getting friends and family groups like these – such as young Olivia McDonald [13] over there who will be riding with her brothers – they are all stepping outside their comfort zones but they’re cruising, and it’s giving them a safe ride.”

Not all take it easy though. Winner of the Nicholas Browne Challenge Harry Lockhead completed the course from Tairua to Whitianga in 1hr 16 minutes.

The event is organised by the Spirit of Coromandel Trust which is fundraising for an outdoor pursuits centre on the Coromandel. Event co-organiser Andy Reid said: “The event went really well and we had great times this year despite the rain. Thankfully Hamish is doing fine, and there were no other accidents.”
Flight Centre K2 Elite Men’s Elite
1 – Sam Horgan 5hr 05 27
2 – Bryn Thorne-George 5hr 12 28
3 – Karl Poole 5 12 28
Flight Centre K2 Men
1 – Jack Mcneely 5hr 31 23
2 – Mel Titter 5hr 31 23
3 – Alex Nisbet 5 31 23
Flight Centre K2 Women
1 – Kate Mcilroy
2 – Carol McCallum
3 – Amanda Till
Cervelo K1 Elite Men
1 – Fergus Hamilton 2hr 28 49
2 – Shaun Williams
3 – Jack Edwards
Cervelo K1 Elite Women
1 – Teresa Adam 2hr 39 14
2 – Deborah Paine
3 - Grace Anderson
Nicholas Brown Challenge
1 – Harry Lockhead
2 – Ketzal Seirling
3 – Kalib Patterson

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