New 50kmultra off-road marathon
A Manawatu ridge-running event that started as an informal 15-person pack run is back as a triple-headed monster.
The North Range Trio builds on last year’s double run event to include the region’s first 50-kilometre event, the Love My Sport Catchment Ultra.
Race director Gerry le Roux said the inaugural 2016 North Range Traverse and Hall Block Humdinger, along closed roads through the Te Rere Hau and Tararua wind farms, offered runners two options - a run just shy of 25km from the top of the Pahiatua Track to the Ferry Reserve at Ballance, and an 11km outand-back up-and-down run from the reserve.
For this year’s event a 50km race, the region’s first and only off-road ultra marathon, has been introduced, while the distances for the other two races have been standardised.
The Tilt Renewables North Range Traverse is now 25km and the Salming Hall Block Humdinger is 12.5km.
Le Roux said they had aimed for 200 entries last year but the event took off and received more than 300 entries from keen runners.
Although bad weather on the day forced the event to move from Saturday to Sunday and about 250 entrants took part.
The event, aimed at being affordable to enter, had grown quickly, Le Roux said.
‘‘It’s undergone a rapid evolution. Each run now doubles the distance of the one beneath it. It’s the first of its type in Manawatu.‘‘
A Manawatu Striders member, Le Roux said he worked alongside the club while looking to put on events that were a bit different.
‘‘On the national scene, [ultra running] and the slightly longer off-road running events are growing, and there’s a lack of these sorts of events in Manawatu.’’
Le Roux hoped the 50km event would appeal to runners aiming at the Taupo 100km ultra event in October.
‘‘It’s a new event, too, that started last year, and our 50km Catchment Ultra would make a nice stepping stone to that.’’
Love My Sport director and athlete Chris Sanson said they were excited to be supporting a new event that was unique to the Manawatu region.
‘‘The experience you get running with the windmills is incredible and the fact you are up so high makes you feel like you’re in the land of giants,’’ Sanson said.
‘‘Participants from out of town are in for a treat.’’
More of a fun event than strictly competitive, last year’s run was characterised by having home baking at one of the aid stations, handmade finishers’ medals and cups of homemade soup.
Registrations are open for the North Range Trio events at northrangetraverse.co.nz.
Participants on the 2016 North Range run among the wind turbines.