Just realised I published this in the Lactic Turkey Newsletter but not here so this is the catch up.
Shaun and Phil competed for their second time as Team Lactic Turkey in the very tough Motatapu Adventure Run. Quoting from the event website… “This iconic route starts at Wanaka, traversing through Fern Burn and the Motatapu and Soho Stations, then through historic Macetown to Butlers Green, Arrowtown. Described in places as merely a “marked route”, the track covers 49km of exposed and physically challenging back-country terrain across the Motatapu and Soho Stations, on an old travellers’ route between Wanaka and Arrowtown, an area steeped in New Zealand history.
As an Adventure Run competitor you will ascend a total of 2790 metres, traversing four peaks (the highest point being Jack Hall’s Saddle at 1275 metres above sea level), and negotiating rough tussock-covered areas, long, steep sadles and river crossings. In order to be accepted into this event both you and your team mate have to have proven mountain running experience - this is not for the novice adventure racer. It will be an accomplishment you’ll remember and be very proud of for a long time to come.”
Last year Shaun’s preparation wasn’t the best - after standing on a rusty old nail at home and getting an infected foot, he couldn’t train for 2 months before the event and so suffered on the mountainous climbs. Hence our return to the race….we had unfinished business!
The race starts at 6am in darkness so head torches lead the way through some flattish rough farmland before a 30 minute stint in some beautiful beech forest. I was trying a borrowed Ay-up headlamp (and have since made a purchase!). I’ll review it another time, but this provided some big munty light so Phil and I lead for a while from the start and were surprised that nobody was challenging to pass. Last year the start was hectic with much of the field not knowing the course, so starting quite fast. Seems everyone was well versed this time on what a long day lay ahead so the pace was nice and steady.
Just before breaking out into the open tussock land a mixed team (Robbie & Jess - Wanaka), who hadn’t done the event last year came past and took the lead. We reached the first hut in just under an hour. This was a few minutes down on last year but the winning team from last year were still back in the pack and we were feeling strong. Although it didn’t feel like it by then we were already at just under 800m above sea level and had another 500m climb to go to finish the first big hill.
At this stage the Jess from the mixed team put a tow rope on her male partner and was pulling him up this climb. We were amazed that first SHE was doing this and it wasn’t the other way around and second that is was happening so early. Together with the other mens team that were with us, we laughed saying they’d both blow up soon. We focused on fueling up and plodding up this hill, happy to arrive at the top 9 minutes faster than last year and feeling great. At the top we were above the clouds and stopped briefly to admire the stunning view and take the photo (to the hassles of the next team that caught up). From here it was a nasty decent of 450m vertical in less than 5 minutes – hello quads! The stream crossing at the bottom was a chance to fill up the drink bottles (lovely refreshing/freezing water).
The next 500m vertical climb is kind of broken up into a few chunks and can be done at a good walking pace and offered a few good glances back on the rest of the field. The winning team from last year (locals Darren Blackhurst and Chris Dagg - Remarkable Old Gimmers ) started to catch up and passed us and the two other pairs we were with about half way up this climb and kept on going at the same pace. We had a good feed of the bacon and egg sammies prepared the night before so slipped back a little on the other two teams. We could see though that one of the men in the 2nd mens team we were with was struggling a bit and we should catch them again soon – the mixed team was sort of half way between us and the lead team – with the chick still towing the guy!
Once at the top it was another fast decent into a beech forest and stream crossing. We were 15 minutes ahead of last year and had sight of all 3 teams in front so were happy with how we were going. The hill out of this stream is my worst of the event. It has a short (100m vertical) really steep bit and then just climbs and climbs. The steady walking pace slowed right down to a plod and getting food out of the pack was a great excuse for stopping and eating food a great excuse for plodding slower! At the top of this climb at 1200m above seas level we had stunning views of the Motatapu Valley and could see the tiny ant like specks of people running/walking along the normal mountain route. From here we could see the last massive climb and spirits are up cause you know that after that climb it is down in to a river for a hour and then running on gravel 4WD track for another hour out to the finish.
So we dropped down and down and down to cross the marathon route. The marathon walkers looked bewildered by us coming down a trackless hill through the tussock and heading up the other side – “did you get lost” one old fella joked, half of them not realising the adventure run course even exists.
Then the last climb. Forgot how this one bites. After the 3 previous mungus climbs and quad thumping descents the legs are really complaining now. I could feel cramps coming on at regular intervals kept away only with doses of food and drink. We trudged up this climb and saw the leaders disappear over the top about 20 minutes ahead, then the mixed team and we were slowly catching the other mens team. One of them was really struggling and we were making up time on them.
At the top of this climb we were still 15 minutes ahead of last year and had no major cramps or anything – this was a dream compared with last year! We then dropped (quickly) into a riverbed and followed this for about 40 minutes. This was fun, technical running which suited us lads. You follow the river, jumping over larger boulders and straight through the water, up on the bank to skirt around a deep bit and then back in the water to cross another bit. Its seems like we plunge into and across the river hundreds of times. Fueling up as we went, so we had something to sprint (comparatively) the last stretch out to the finish.
At the last marshaled point at Macetown we caught a glimpse of the mens team in front of us – just 2-3 minutes ahead. This spurred us into action. From here we knew we did about an hour 20 to the finish last time and it would be close for us to break 8 hours if we did that. Each corner we came around we scanned the distance for the other team but couldn’t see them and wondered if they had pulled up somewhere. We plugged on going as hard as we could. At about 7 kms to go our course met up with the main Motatapu Marathon course for mountain bikers, runners and walkers. At this point we had 36 minutes to get home and last year this section took 37. Doh! From here it is pretty much drawing on all your energy left but mainly its a head game, using the large number of walkers we were passing as fuel to keep going. Mountain bikers come racing past pretty close and as you dodge the walkers and avoid these bikers while trying to keep the shortest line on the track and keep moving forward, it’s a fine line. We were balls out and keen as to break that 8 hour mark!
At 2km to go you start getting into some river crossings. The river was much wider so these crossings are energy sapping. At the same time you have to dodge mountain bikers who have fallen off as they try to ride or are struggling to carry their bikes across the river. We knew roughly how many there were and as we counted them the magic 8 hour mark got closer and closer. As we bounded through the last crossing, our bodies seemingly forgetting the hours of punishment from earlier in the day, we glimpsed the finish chute and had another surge. Crowds cheered and the odd go Shaun (which Phil was gutted about given he is the local!) as we rounded the bend and into the finish. 8:01:49…never mind.
We still took more than 25 minutes off last years effort and as it turned out was the only top placed team from the prior years event that improved on last year. The winners (Chris Dagg and Darren Blackhurst as Remarkable Old Gimmers – Arrowtown) took 7 hours 31 which was over 6 minutes slower, 2nd was the mixed team (Robbie & Jess - Wanaka) in 7.48 (we saw the lady of the team tow her male buddy up all those climbs and we had to eat our words – they didn’t blow at all!) and third was the mens team (Team Bivouac – Dunedin) we were hunting down who finished just a little over 2 minutes in front of us. This meant we were 3rd mens team!
So – that was another Motatapu Adventure Run done. Would we do it again – nup! We reckon we’re done with that event. It’s a monster and I don’t think many would keep going back for more. It is highly recommended though. If you want an amazing adventure run in scenery that is postcard perfect and you’re after a wee workout then get training and enter the event. Don’t underestimate the hills! The race doesn’t really start till you drop into the riverbed – before that its power tramping the hills and staying in touch with the people in front.
ps. The next day went for a mountain bike ride to help spin out the legs and recover. We went around a lake (Moke Lake) less than 15 mins from Queenstown and had a good cruisy ride. A stunning spot - check out the scenery!
Was great to see so many people in the waitak’s today. The most people I’ve ever seen when running. Probably more than 8 different groups or individuals. Unheard of!
Just did 2 hours 15 in the Waitak’s. I love that shit! First run since the Mototapu adventure run event I did in Queenstown in mid March and it’s great to be back!
Bit cold in queenstown. Fresh snow reasonably low on the surrounding mountains. Good running temp for tomorrow! All our race packs are loaded. Time to relax and eat/drink up a storm!
Off to Queenstown for the motatapu adventure run. 49km offroad,2700 climb over 4 large hills. Bliss…. I think? Looking forward to start at 6am tomorrow.
Here is the rough route of the Motatapu Adventure run I’m doing on Saturday. I viewed the fly-by video and now I’m really scared!
Click on the “Watch Course Fly-By Video” button.
Did some hill reps today to test foot and managed 3x18minutes uphill. Foot started to get sore right at the end. Body felt rough from cold……I’m fully ready :)
Had the pleasure to take part in the opening ceremony of the Hillary Trail today - a very special event. I ran into the opening with a running group from Girls on Top including Sarah Hillary (Ed’s daughter) who ran from Muriwai and we were met by another group who ran from Arataki and another walking group including Peter Hillary (Ed’s son) from Karakare.
We got interviewed by TV3 - the news article is here..
There were speeches from the Hillary family, the Governor General, Bob Harvey the Mayor of Waitakere and various Auckland Regional Council people - some great speeches about how the trail originated and has come to be. I got a mention for running it all on Wednesday!
A very good vibe at the event which ended with the Hillary family and the Governor General unveiling a trail marker. There was even a nice feed which us runners really appreciated!
Well done to all who organised it and made it such a special occasion.
Photos to follow.