JASON English doesn’t have a lot of spare time.
Between his job as a physical education teacher to travelling around Australia and the world, English covers plenty of ground.
And the cyclist covered plenty of ground in New Zealand last weekend at the Whaka100 event, finishing third overall, completing the marathon course in five hours and 45 minutes.
“It’s definitely the longest marathon I’ve ever done,” he said.
“Normally in Australia with a 100 kayer, I’ve gone under four hours a few times so it’s a lot longer than normal.”
The event doubled as the unofficial New Zealand marathon championship and had almost 400 riders competing in it.
“They had their Olympic-level riders in the event as well so it was good to see it attracted a high-level, quality field,” English said.
“I wouldn’t say it was a difficult event, but you had to be mindful of the distance and mindful of the climbing.”
English said his main focus was on enjoying the experience.
“It’s not an event where you can go flat out all the time which is very hard for me to do because I was having fun the whole time,” he said.
“Most of the time I didn’t think I was racing. I wasn’t concerned about positioning at all. I was just out there having too much fun.”
While it was a challenging course, English said the hard work was rewarded throughout.
“Once you’d get to the top of the climb – which would be a fire road – you’d then have probably a five or 10 minute reward for the climb as a downhill,” he said.
“On the downhill you’re looking to break as little as possible and take as much speed around the corners.
“By the end of the race I learned to ride my bike a whole lot better and just got a lot more relaxed and confident with the trails.”
English could have finished in the top two, but admitted a handful of mistakes while out on the course cost him.
“I did an extra 16 or 17 minute loop that probably cost me a position,” he said.
“I also wasn’t thinking of the nutritional requirements of an almost six-hour event and I ran out of water a couple of times so had to go looking for bubblers and things of the side of the track.”
The locals also had an advantage where they had people meet them out on the course and pass them drink bottles.
“I’d have to rely on carrying as much fluid as I could,” English said.
“So that’s why I’d have an extra kilo and a half in my backpack as well as my drink bottle on the bike which even after a fill up at halfway wasn’t enough.
“I want to take my own crew over there next year so they can all see how fun mountain biking can be.”