Manfeild well-known to cyclists
AS novel as the idea of cycling on motor-racing circuits sounds, competitors in a national schools’ event at Manfeild on Monday, October 2, will be forgiven for finding the venue highly familiar.
Kevin Searle, a Levin identity of the sport and also chairman of Cycling New Zealand Schools, reminds the Feilding circuit’s link with the New Zealand School Road Cycling Championships is exceptionally strong.
“Manfeild has hosted the Points Race at the School Road National Championships since the race was introduced back in 1979.”
Taking the event to the circuit’s main grand prix track, renamed last year as Manfeild: Circuit Chris Amon, made lots of sense.
Not only is the venue incredibly spectator-friendly but, in not being a road course, it was safer for riders and also negated need for traffic management protocols required with the previous location, Levin.
“The track is also a great distance which makes for a good course for points race laps.
“We are extremely grateful for all of the support Manfeild has given schools’ cycling and the School Road National Championships over the last 38 years.”
A bumper turnout of 700 riders for what will serve as the final challenge of three days’ racing reminds that Manawatu’s central location has always made it well-suited to a sport that has associated with schools since 1968.
Though the sport is heading to a new venue, Christchurch, next year, Manfeild Park chief executive Julie Keane is pleased to hear assertion that this is a one year trial and that it’ll return to traditional territory in 2019, with a future rotation plan to be confirmed.
“We know the sport’s decision to head south is not a reflection on the existing venue – they love Manfeild.
“The impetus is to foster more growth in the sport.
“Kevin has reminded that there are more than 200 school riders taking part in weekly schools’ competitions in the Christchurch area alone, yet South Island Schools only contribute six percent of this year’s field.
“If they can lift the southern interest and bring those riders here, then we can assure them of a great competition at a great venue.
“In the meantime we are delighted to again host an event that is particularly relevant being a 50th anniversary outing.”
Mr Searle says the local organising committee in Levin has kept the event going. He has also identified support from Manfeild plus local bodies, including Manawatu District Council and Horowhenua District Council, plus Sport Manawatu.
“One of the most endearing parts of this event is the community buy-in and the generations of locals who have put their heart and soul into its ongoing success. We hope they enjoy a year off and look forward to returning with more South Island riders in 2019.”
Mr Searle believes a one year shift will reinvigorate these cycling programmes with the opportunity for them to experience the travel aspect and create new memories.
More details on this year’s event and the 50 years of schools’ cycling celebration can be found at www.schoolscycling.nz