The  BDO Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge is New Zealand’s largest cycling event and the world’s largest cycling relay. The challenge includes a wide range of events, so that cyclists of varying abilities and fitness levels can participate. Events include the Solo 160km around Lake Taupo, road and mountain bike relays, mountain bike challenges, separate men’s and women’s races, corporate challenges, Enduro events (2, 4 and 8 laps of the lake) and the @Heart ride for kids. The challenge regularly attracts in excess of 10,000 competitors.

St John has been the medical services provider for the Cycle Challenge for at least the last 20 years.

Key risks:
The BDO Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge is a logistically challenging event, covering 160 kilometres around Lake Taupo – and ambulances can’t take a short cut across the lake! Some events are held at different locations and the extreme events (2x, 4x and 8x laps of the lake) are hugely challenging for competitors. Weather and temperature also pose risks – conditions can be hot, cold, rainy and/or windy. Mobile coverage is not available in some areas.

Solution:
Our biggest logistical challenge is ensuring there are enough ambulances spread around the 160km course, while still maintaining coverage if several patients require hospital transportation from different points of the course at the same time. We provided 12 ambulances, a medical clinic, communications centre and more than 30 St John team members for the 2011 event, including 2 registered nurses, 1 rapid-response intensive care paramedic (ICP) on a motor bike, 1 mountain bike medic, 2 communications officers and an event coordinator. We had staff rostered at the Taupo-based Youthtown Trust Rescue helicopter, in case required.

We also have to ensure that the town of Taupo has enough duty ambulances available, because the population triples with this event.

Outcomes: 
Over the years, St John event medical services have treated more than 500 people who were Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge participants or supporters. Cases treated include skin injuries, sprains/strains, fractures/dislocations, head injuries, heat exhaustion, headaches/migraines, bruising, muscle cramps and blisters.

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