Arrowtown hosts the 15th anniversary edition of Macpac Motatapu this weekend, with the event moving to a two-day multi-sport celebration for the first time in its storied history, with close to 4,000 competitors expected to line up in the six events on offer across the weekend.
From Glendhu Bay through the Motatapu Valley and into Arrowtown, the Macpac Motatapu has the Ultra Run, XTERRA Triathlon, Mountain Bike and Ebike categories on the Saturday, with Sunday set aside as an exclusive running/trail walking day, featuring the Off-Road Marathon, Miners Train and Sawpit Trail, with all events finishing at Wilcox Green in Arrowtown.
While almost all events are about participation with a great cross section of New Zealanders and international visitors signed up across the six events (with 22 countries represented), there are a number of headline athletes set to grab their share of attention.
Lucy Bartholomew is the star attraction in the 51km Ultra Run, the 22-year-old Australian sensation makes a third appearance at Macpac Motatapu, following up on her record-breaking win in 2017 and runner-up finish behind Ruth Croft last year and with Croft setting another new fastest time, Bartholomew will have added motivation to race well.
“I love that Motatapu brings together people from different sports, different distances and different places of the world. It’s super cool for this year that it will be split over two days so I can watch, admire and cheer the others on Sunday, even with my tired legs!
“My race plan is to survive haha! It’s been a while since I ran in a race and I just want to draw confidence in moving for that amount of time and in this terrain. I certainly can’t say my training has been specific, but I can say that I am most excited to see how it feels to do something different. I want to finish smiling.
“I remember the river section ha-ha! I have taken the low route and the high route now and it’s always fun to change it up, but I remember the water being blissfully cold and it going on forever!”
The 47km Mountain Bike event also takes place on the Saturday morning and features one of New Zealand’s very best in 28-year-old Samara Sheppard. The former Clyde rider has spent much of her time based in Australia of late and rode for New Zealand at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“The Motatapu mountain bike event has been a long-time feature of the New Zealand Calendar. I have heard many good things about the event and look forward to taking part in the 2019 edition.
“The open nature of the course excites me, as it will provide opportunity to work with a group and form small bunches of participants, often of different age and gender but similar fitness and skills, this is very different to cross country events that I often focus on.
“The point to point course from Glendhu Bay to Arrowtown also makes it more of an adventure, due to starting and finish being in different locations,” said Sheppard.
Multiple champion Kate Fluker is riding in the team event with regular endurance race riding partner Mark Williams, leaving the door very much open for a new champion in the women’s individual.
Kris Rush will be one to watch in the men’s Mountain Bike in what is otherwise a very even field, the Oamaru rider overcome some early issues at the 2018 Pioneer to finish top 30 overall with Nigel Douglas (also riding this weekend) and knows the Motatapu Valley course well.
Other notables in the field include former New Zealand cross country rider Tim Madgwick and well performed 40-49 age group rider Nathon Wright, who was fifth in 2017 and finished third in the master’s division at the 2018 Pioneer.
The XTERRA Triathlon is wide open in both men’s and women’s events, with the absence of previous winners such as Dougal Allan, Braden Currie and Josie Wilcox, the New Zealand titles on the line. Added to the interest in the XTERRA race is the lure of pro spots and a limited number of age group qualifying spots to the World Championship race in Hawaii, later in 2019. Full details are on the event website.