23 May 2018


With the event at 90% capacity, IRONMAN legend Cameron Brown and good mate Andrew Smith (team Vital Greens) have taken the plunge and signed on the dotted line to confirm their place in the 2018 Pioneer Mountain Bike Stage Race.

Endurance events are nothing new to the four-time IRONMAN World Championship medalist and 12-time Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain IRONMAN New Zealand winner, but the appeal of a change in scenery and the chance to enjoy an event with a team mate proved too tough for Brown to resist.

“What drew me to The Pioneer is the idea of back country riding, beautiful mountain passes in the South Island, hopefully in nice weather – but even the weather just changes the dynamics of the racing, so regardless I will be trying to take as many photos as I can of the scenery.

“I think this sort of event is good for anyone, it changes the monotony of training and racing after so many years, I have raced here in New Zealand, in Europe and in Hawaii – at this stage of my career it is about trying new things, new race and different training to keep me focused and active. I have new goals now and I am trying new races in the twilight of my career and while I am not slowing down yet, this is just going to be a cool fun race and experience.”

While no one will question Brown’s motor and appetite for six days of riding over 430km and 15,500m of climbing, the 46-year-old is going to look to enjoy The Pioneer and take it all in, rather than chase a race victory.

“There are too many good mountain bikers out there for me and I will be cautious at times and not be silly. Of course, we will go as fast as we can and have a good workout every day, but this is about being sensible, enjoying the environment and the race and having fun with your mate for a week.

“It is something different, other than swim bike and run, there are only so many races you can do, and I have dome most of them over my 30 odd years in the sport, I must be up to about 60 IRONMAN races alone by now, my first one was 1997, so it has been a while now.”

Brown is entered in the right event then, one that promises that competitors will find ‘stunning, character and welcome’ as they ‘ride beyond’ in the Central Otago countryside.

Brown puts the responsibility for entering fairly and squarely on his good mate Andrew Smith’s shoulders though, even if he did not need too much arm twisting to say yes.

“Andrew sowed the seed and said he was up for something different, he has been a good mate for many years. He was doing the Routeburn a few weeks ago but that got cancelled so this appealed again as something he wanted to do. He is a few years younger than me, but I can push him a little harder than he normally goes. We do some training together most weeks, so we are used to training together and have good fun, talk some crap and enjoy ourselves out training.”

Despite posting his fastest ever time at IRONMAN New Zealand when finishing third behind a record breaking performance from Terenzo Bozzone earlier this year, Brown knows he is edging towards the end of a decorated career, and so must make the most of every moment.

I think that attitude is what has kept me in the sport for so long, it is about enjoyment and having fun in your sport and at 46 years old, you have to keep doing that. Otherwise you will give up.

Others looking to join Brown and Smith on the start line in November this year need to move quickly, with entries beyond the 90% mark and almost certain to sell out in the coming weeks. Information and entry details can be found on the event website

Demand for the third edition of The Pioneer has seen entries flood in from over 21 countries, throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Oceania, including: United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, United States, South Africa.