It's been a hectic start to 2013. So when a rare weekend off presented itself, I travelled to the old home patch of Gore to give Sport Southland a hand at their outstanding MTL Moonshine Trail on Saturday (yes, I too was questioning my sanity when the alarm went off at 6am!)
It was a great event, expertly organised, wonderfully supported by volunteers and entrants and the weather gods even played ball.
It also brought home to me the outstanding job local sporting clubs and organisations do in providing great local events. In a lot of cases we don't consider the huge amount of work put in to deliver what must rank as one of the highest number of events per capita in the country.
This weekend was a great example. While over 400 were taking on the ups and downs of the Moonshine Trail from Dolamore Park, our club road racers were battling strong head and cross winds and on Sunday the first in our SouthPort Criterium Series was raced around Bill Richardson Drive.
Then come the next few weeks. From next Tuesday, Stadium Southland Velodrome plays host to over 200 track cyclists with the annual Age Group Nationals over five days, the Gore to Waikiwi classic and South Island Teams' Time Trial will be held the following weekend and then a large Southland contingent will pursue more national titles at the Club Road Nationals in Queenstown in April. And that's just our sport!
The people who deliver events don't do it for thanks, they do it because they love their sport. But don't under-estimate the difference a quick word of appreciation at the end of the day provides. It's the least we can do to recognise the countless hours and unrivalled passion these people have for all our sports.
While I'm on the topic of the weekend, a deserving congratulations to Matt Zenovich, Neil Familton and Kirstie James for their wins in trying conditions at Waianiwa on Saturday. Zenovich backed up to complete a double in winning A Grade at the SouthPort Crit on Sunday, with series leader jerseys also going to Stu MacDonald (B Grade), Daryl Haggerty (C Grade) and Glen Ferguson (D Grade) along with juniors Tom Sexton, Corbin Strong and Madeleine Gough. A good weekend's work by you all.
Offshore, Eddie Dawkins has safely arrived in Belarus for the World track Cycling Championships which kick off late Wednesday night, New Zealand time. The Men's kilo time trial is on the opening evening of competition (Thursday morning) and although yet to be confirmed, it would surprise if he and Simon van Velthooven don't line up to fill New Zealand's two qualification spots. The Team Sprint then follows on Friday morning. Last year I was lucky enough to watch Eddie stand on a world championship podium in person in Melbourne. We would love nothing better than a repeat performance to cap what has been a stellar 12 months for the big guy. Rip 'em to shreds Ed!
Nick Jeffrey is the Chief Executive of Cycling Southland