Motatapu a brutish but beautiful test of endurance

GRANT BRYANT
Last updated 05:00 10/03/2014

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"Beaut but brute" was the first-hand judgment of many taking part in Saturday's gruelling Motatapu adventure race event.

Soaked with sweat, water from high-country streams and occasional tears, contestants aged 13 to 85 tested their endurance against the arduous course.

First across the finish line at Arrowtown's Butler's Green was Miner's Trail winner Alun Williams, who completed the steep, 15 kilometre course in 1:16:29, a course record. Louisa Andrew was the first woman home in 1:28:46.

More than 650 people entered the event this year, setting another high benchmark.

Icebreaker Off-Road Marathon winner, Dunedin's Stafford Thompson, who clocked in 2:57:15 said the course was hard slog, but the scenery was breathtaking.

"I've never done this race before and it's awesome to have it result in a win. It's a beaut, but a real brute," he said.

Four of Thompson's extended family also entered the marathon or Miner's Trail races.

Women's marathon winner, Queenstown's Sarah Douglas, who ran 3:19:20. returned to top form after taking a year off from the race. "Off-road racing is definitely my thing, and uphill is my strength so the Motatapu is great for me."

Douglas broke the course record in 2011, came second in 2012 and missed the race last year.

Top mountainbikers ruled the roost in a field of hundreds during the Speights Summit mountainbike section.

Course record-holder and Queenstown favourite Kate Fluker took first place in the women's elite section with a time of 2:8:31, beating her own course record by almost 60 seconds.

Seventeen-year-old NZXC up-and-comer Amber Johnston, from Rotorua, won the Elite Junior category in 2:34:12. Olympian Peter Burling punched in with a time of 1:28:56 winning the recreational category.

This year's 47km bike event sold out in record time and attracted elite and professional athletes, as well as Olympians Sarah Ulmer, Hamish Carter, Nathan Cohen and Mahe Drysdale.

The triathlon leg of the event, with 160 individual and 60 team entrants, yielded an all-Wanaka podium, with Braden Currie and Nicky Samuels collecting honours for the second consecutive year. Currie crossed the line in 3:55:25 and Samuels in 4:17:10.

Out in the elements for the longest time were adventure run contestants, who tackled a 49km course.

After a 5am start, men's winners Grant Guise and Matthew Bixley crossed the finish line in 6:49:07. The winning women's team, "The Rockhoppers" from Christchurch, finished in 8:51:33.

grant.bryant@stl.co.nz

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- The Southland Times

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