R&R Sport Peak to Peak and the Polar V800 Watch!

April 19, 2014
Dougal Allan

I still remember my first peak to peak experience in 2006. I was reasonably new to this multisport thing and I was nervous as all hell. Back then when I lived in Dunedin, every multisport race was an epic adventure. My mates Matty Graham, Gavin Mason, Donny Cullen etc used to pack vehicles with as much gear as our typically cheap and small station wagons could hold, then venture off on a road trip to the event for the weekend. They were good times.

8 years on and I still drive a station wagon packed full of gear, but now I am lucky to own some pretty swish bikes, kayaks and equipment that back in my student days would have just been a distant fantasy. This year I had two Trek bikes both fitted with top end Enve race wheels. On the roof was my Vaaka SK1 kayak. In the back was a Legend Magma paddle and a whole bunch of other fancy gear which I now really rely on for top results. Its been quite the journey to here from those days in 2006.

Win number 4 came on the weekend in my 6th attempt. I finished 8th back in that 2006 race, let down hugely by a pathetic ski leg that left me with serious time to make up. Mark Williams or “Willy” from Queenstown R&R Sport, was the winner in that race. This year he was the team cyclist that I managed to pass on the Coronet Peak Rd cycle stage as I moved into the outright lead!

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Climbing towards the finish at Coronet peak ski field

One thing certainly hasnt changed since 2006 – I still dont own a pair of skis. I was using rentals (thanks Racers Edge Wanaka!) this year, as I have every other year I have competed. I am lucky if I get up the mountain for a ski once a year, so owning my own ones seems illogical. Even though I live in the ski resort town of Wanaka…

The ski stage in the race for me is all about staying out of trouble. I appreciate there are some people in the race (especially team skiers) who are prepared to risk a lot to get down the hill near the front. This simply is not my mindset. To get down the hill without a collision is my primary goal. I take it pretty steady.

The ski stage was shorter this year but in some ways this only increased the chances of a collision as the congestion was magnified. So I was pretty happy to find my support crew Will Sams and transition to mountain bike without any mishaps.

The Remarkables access road was pretty icy at the top and a thick layer of cloud kept visibility to around 20m at times on the decent. Hairy stuff! But I managed to move up through the field and be within striking distance of the lead by the time I hit Lake Wakatipu and my SK1 kayak.

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Fastest paddle

My mate Bob was flying and was first individual onto the lake. Bob is a legend and at 42 years of age he gives the impression he is 25. I managed to sneak past Bob and some team paddlers along the 7km to Queenstown Bay and was leading off the lake. It is times like these I feel proud and privileged to receive support from the Vaaka SK1 team and the Legend Paddles guys too. My biggest advantage on the water is having these guys behind me. That Legend Magma is unreal. But dont buy one, its my secret weapon. Stick to what you already have….

Onto the run and I was passed by a flying runner from Team Proactive Physio. I didnt feel super quick in the run so just settled into a rather heavy rhythm. I felt confident I had some time on the other individuals, but you just never really know in this sport. I was looking forward to the last stage on the road bike.

Coming into the last transition I felt pretty relaxed. But I still wanted to push the pace along so jumped onto my Trek Madone and took off up the hill to see what gap I now had up to Willy on the bike. I have never beaten all the teams in this race and the thought was quite appealing. It was also my first ride on the Enve 6.7 wheelset I had recently taken possession of so that was exciting. Whether it was placebo or not I dont know, nor do I really care, but the wheels seemed so stiff that I felt my bike surge everytime I put power through the pedals. It was quite hard to believe, but man it felt good. I knew pretty early on that I was in for a good ride. I managed to produce the fastest overall bike split by more than a minute and finish first overall across the line. That felt awesome.

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Holding my prized possession high in the sky

The R&R Sport Peak to Peak is quite an event. Its pretty cool to stand on top of the Remarks and look across the basin to the finish line at Coronet Peak. It is even more cool to look back the other way once the race is complete. 21 years of this race is a big achievement and race organiser Geoff Hunt must be thanked. To hear my Radio New Zealand interview about the race from Monday please click on this link.

A couple of weeks ago I took ownership of the new Polar V800 heart rate monitor and GPS watch:

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Polar V800 sports watch


It is fair to say that as a Polar sponsored athlete since 2008 I have seen the evolution of competing brands over recent years which threatened to take the top spot away from Polar as far as the most trusted and functional training watch goes. Brands like Garmin and Suunto have developed pretty awesome devices recently and Polar really had to lift its game to keep up. Having now used the new V800 for a couple of weeks I am confident that they haven’t managed to simply keep up, they have well and truly risen straight back to the top. The watch absolutely does it all and is super easy to use. It runs on bluetooth and continued updates will be available as it continues to evolve even further. It was pretty cool to look at my Peak 2 Peak race and see data on everything from heart rates/splits for each stage to elevation profiles, to a Google Maps view of the ground I covered and much more. The best thing (apart from how cool it looks) is the separate sport profiles available. So if you are like me and love way too many sports, you are able to customise a specific watch setting or “profile” to each sport. For example I will have a bike profile set up to receive cadence data and measure speed in km/hr whereas my run profile measures speed in min/km and can receive data from a foot pod to give me my run cadence. Specific info for specific sports in other words. It even measures my HR under water while I am swimming.

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Mapping my Peak 2 Peak journey, both physically and physiologically.

So now it is time to push on with training and aim to join Team NZ Adventure in peak form for the Wulong Mountain Quest on 23-26th August. This is the most competitive stage adventure race in the world and we have been really looking forward to this event all year. We’ll also do a 24hr style adventure race in China in early September before our team focus turns to the Red Bull Defiance at Labour weekend right here in our very own Wanaka!

Cheers for now,


Tags: R & R Sport, Trek,