No Way In Hell extreme enduro premier

New Plymouth’s Sam Parker (Husqvarna TE300), one of the favourites to win this weekend’s No Way In Hell extreme enduro. Photo by Andy McGechan,

Ever been told to “go to Hell”? This is probably the place they meant ... the No Way In Hell extreme enduro, and it’s happening this weekend.

It is the country’s premier extreme enduro event, run by the man who should know, Tokoroa enduro wizard Sean Clarke.

This weekend’s No Way In Hell extreme enduro will be only the sixth time the event has been run and, quite frankly, that’s quite a surprise because so few riders actually survived the inaugural event in 2010.

In fact, only two out of more than 60 starters did finish that first race 14 years ago and that’s also probably part of the reason why the last time it was run was in 2014 and why this year’s resurrection of the extreme event has been so eagerly anticipated.

Again set for 654 Hauturu Road, Oparau, near Kawhia, this coming Saturday (April 6), this year’s NWIH enduro, being run by the Forestland Motorcycle Club, will be a little different because its soul-destroying and body-breaking qualities have been ramped up considerably.

Riders have been warned to brace themselves for a challenge like they have probably never faced before.

The NWIH extreme enduro is a stand-alone event and just surviving it, let alone winning it, is considered such a fantastic achievement.

“There will be some pretty hard sections to test the riders and it’s actually the weather that may play the biggest part in how tough the course becomes,” says Sean, himself a former international racer.

“The course won’t be impossible, but the riders will certainly have to be on their toes just to finish it and bodies will feel pretty battered.

“The first half of this 70-kilometre race won’t be too demanding, but it gets progressively harder after that. It will really put the riders through the wringer. It is something to be proud of just to finish this race.”

Sean says the winning rider would probably take about three hours to complete the course … some could still be on the track after eight hours and many won’t finish at all.

“We have about 125 riders entered so far, many of them individuals who were probably too young to tackle it back in 2010 and who will be in for a rude shock when they make their debuts on Saturday.”

Leading contenders include eight-time former national trials champion and now a regular enduro racer, Wainuiomata’s Jake Whitaker, alongside Inglewood’s Renny Johnston, New Plymouth father and son duo Tony and Sam Parker, Taupo’s 2023 national cross-country champion Wil Yeoman and Papakura’s Ryan Hayward, to name just a few.

Event organiser Sean is a multi-time former New Zealand champion and a four-time medallist at the “Olympic Games of enduro racing”, the International Six Days Enduro, so he knows first-hand what it takes to win at the ultimate level of the sport.

A prologue race from 9.30am on Saturday morning will determine the start order for the main event, starting at 11am, where riders will be started a minute apart.

The event is jointly sponsored by Husqvarna motorcycles, Forbes and Davies accessory distributors, O’Neal apparel, Maxima oils, Arai helmets, Ogio bags, Blur, Maxi Grip, Kiwi Rider magazine, Muck-Off, Metzeler tyres, USWE and SATCO logging attachments.

Those travelling north to the event should be mindful that the road over Mount Messenger will be closed for most of the day on Saturday, with just a handful of two-hour “windows” when the road will be opened for traffic – from midnight until 1am, 5am to 7am, 12 noon to 1pm, 5pm to 7pm and midnight until 1am Sunday morning.

- Andy McGechan,

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