Wanaka tour de force

Central Otago Mirror - - SPORT - MAR­JORIE COOK

New Zealand’s first swim-run team ad­ven­ture race on March 25 will cir­cum­nav­i­gate the lower half of Lake Wanaka and is not for the faint-hearted.

Bre­caWanaka di­rec­tor Ben de Ri­vaz has re­leased the 50km and 18km cour­ses af­ter months of painstak­ing re­search.

Ath­letes must com­plete the en­tire dis­tance in the com­pany of a team-mate. They swim in shoes and run in wet­suits. Fifty teams have en­tered.

‘‘The en­vi­ron­ment it is in is in­cred­i­bly beau­ti­ful. It has that feel­ing of the sub­lime, be­ing in the nat­u­ral world, which I love,’’ de Ri­vaz said.

The 18-stage, 50km course pro­vides a coastal swim and run tour of the lake from Al­bert Town to The Out­let, then across to Dublin Bay, up Steven­sons Arm to Steven­sons Is­land and The Penin­sula.

The long­est swim is 2.5km across the deep­est part of the lake to West Wanaka. The long­est run is 14.3km over Buchanan’s Rise.

The eight-stage 18km ‘‘sprint’’ ver­sion will be held on the back end of the long course and starts at West Wanaka.

The long­est run on the sprint course is a 6.5km run over Buchanan’s Rise, while the long­est swim is 1.3km from Roy’s Penin­sula to the Glendhu Bay Track.

The course also di­verts to Ruby Is­land and all ath­letes fin­ish at Edgewater Ho­tel.

De Ri­vaz lives in the United King­dom and spent a week in Wanaka in De­cem­ber go­ing over fi­nal course de­tails.

Those con­sulted in­clude pri­vate landown­ers, har­bour­mas­ter Marty Black, the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion, Lake Wanaka Tourism, wa­ter safety sup­port providers and the Wanaka Coast­guard unit.

De Ri­vaz con­firmed an ini­tial route con­cept to fin­ish at Lake Hawea has been aban­doned. The Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion would not per­mit ac­cess to the Hawea River track.

He was more than happy with his new route, some of which he per­son­ally tested in April and again last week.

‘‘We look for a par­tic­u­lar aes­thetic in our cour­ses. We look for these large, wild, nat­u­ral places where the land­scape is just huge and al­most in­tim­i­dat­ing in its scale. These are the sorts of en­vi­ron­ments we want to im­merse our ath­letes in . . . these scenes of tur­bu­lent na­ture,’’ he said.

His com­pany runs sev­eral north­ern hemi­sphere ad­ven­ture races and he is also in­ves­ti­gat­ing a North Is­land route.

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