We are all aware that fitness is key to a healthy lifestyle. Sports add a competitive edge to achieve greater results, whether it be personal or part of a team.
Marcel Smithers, of Methven, has been an avid cyclist for many years and is more driven by the endurance side of the sport, recently setting the record for New Zealand’s women’s fastest 10,000 vertical metres. A total elapsed time of 23:12:42 hours (ride time of 20:30:24 hours). The time also makes her a very respectable 27th fastest woman in the world.
Through her passion for cycling, she managed to find a gap in the market in terms of the clothing for athletes already available. Enter the creation of her online sports clothing range called ‘Lupa’.
The main purpose of the brand is to offer comfortable sportswear, as the target athlete will be wearing the clothing item for many hours and often through gruelling elements.
Marcel went from the design stage, to prototypes, to eventually producing clothing which fit the bill, limiting items to females only.
Comfort and longevity are paramount to the brand. In a male dominated market, Lupa is the only female specific brand in New Zealand and also one of a very few number of brands involved in the women’s race community.
The name Lupa derives from the shewolf in Roman mythology who raises Romulus and Remus. It is one of the most iconic images to the foundations of Rome. The business is now in its third year and in the past two months they have moved into a women’s based sports community, which is called the ‘Lupa race crew’ of which there are around 50 members from triathlon, multi sport, cycling, adventure racing and runners.
In this community some of the competitors are from Methven and Ashburton, competing in triathlon, cycling and multi sports, with lots of coast to coasters and ironmen. Tinwald cycling is their local club, covering the district boundaries of Ashburton, Methven and Hinds.
With the Lupa brand firmly established, Marcel is constantly on the lookout to find more ways to help evolve and support women’s sport. In the past month she created a fundraising incentive to do just that, called the ‘Aloha Initiative’.
The idea came about when she was approached by some of the Lupa crew, who had already qualified for the prestigious Kona ironman event in Hawaii this year. The entry fee of $2500 was thought to be a deterrent for a lot of women and when you add travel and accommodation costs on top, a lot of people struggle to make such an event a reality.
Marcel created and released the ‘Aloha premium race jersey’ as the tool to create a pot of money for qualifying athletes to then use to go against the high costs of competing at pinnacle events. The jersey was available for a limited time, up until the end of last week, at a price of $90 per jersey. This was the first and perhaps the last time a multisex design was made available by Lupa, with 100% of the proceeds going towards the fundraiser.
Marcel has been delighted by the response, finishing with a total of 118 orders, along with some corporate donations to be added soon.
To compete at the highest level and attempt to best of the best can cost between $5000 to $10,000 dollars just to compete.
“The fund is open to any Lupa crew member who qualifies for an international event, applying with an economic assessment, to be reviewed by a panel. “The ones that meet the criteria will be supplied with money to contribute to their costs. I’m overwhelmed to be able to do something to help women achieve their goals and really be the best they possibly can. My future targets are to help as much as I can for females to take up sport”.
The full range of premium clothing Lupa offers is at www.lupacycling.com