Memorial race draws 60-plus cyclists

A winning ride . . . Marshall Erwood took out the Sam Kopae memorial cup held in Mossburn. PHOTO HELEN MCFELIN:

A field of more than 60 cyclists took to the tarmac in Northern Southland at the end of last month to race in memory of local Sam Kopae (nee Coghlan).
Mrs Kopae grew up in Mossburn and lived in Invercargill, where she died from cancer in 2021.
The event, in its second year, is one of the largest on the Cycling Southland calendar, and attracts competitors from Southland and Otago.
Cycling Southland tour director Glen Thomson said the cycling fraternity was a tight one and Mrs Kopae, who was a keen cyclist, was missed.
‘‘She was the sort of person who made things better for being around.
‘‘She would be proud of the event. We all miss her.’’
The race covered a 69km course from Mossburn to Dipton and back via Castlerock.
James Hargest High School pupil Marshall Erwood won the event this year with a time of 1 hour 39 minutes.
His maximum speed was 95kmh, and he averaged 41.5kmh.
‘‘I met her. [It’s a] pretty special race for her,’’ he said. ‘‘I hope something like that happens for me one day.’’
A unique aspect of the race was a social section where friends, family and supporters road the course.
Sam Kopae Memorial Cup organiser Wal Kopae, Mrs Kopae’s husband, flew back from Fiji for the event.
He is there on secondment from the New Zealand Police, setting up and improving patrol dog capability.
‘‘Cycling was Sam’s thing — she loved cycling. ‘‘It is great to see everyone here behind her,’’ he said. ‘‘It is exciting to see the support — everyone is loving it.’’