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Interest high for ultrachallenge

Organiser Gareth Thomas [purple] and fellow runner Stu Milne out on the WAI2K course. PHOTO/GARETH THOMAS


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Hill climbs, river crossings, old railway tunnels, gorse, scrub, technical downhills, beehives, and amazingly stunning scenery are all part of a new long-distance adventure running festival in South Wairarapa in November.

The three-day Wai Running Festival features three ultramarathon distances, a marathon, a triathlon with a difference, and a family fun run.

The main event is the WAI2K, which is divided into three ultramarathon distances – 101km, 83km, and 61km, and a 43km marathon. There is also a two-person relay option for the two longest races.

The courses for all four races start at the Tauherenikau racecourse and head up the Tauherenikau River up Frith Track and then over the Tararua Range.

The finish for the 43km and 61km races will be at Tunnel Gully, near Te Marua, while the two longer distances will return to Tauherenikau.

As well as the elite races, a children’s triathlon is planned for the Saturday, and a family fun run on the Greytown Rail Trail will be held on the Sunday.

Organiser Gareth Thomas said he already had 60 entries for the WAI2K but expected a much bigger field.

“I still think a lot of people are holding off entering these types of races, because covid-19 is still hanging around in the background,” he said.

“I’m hoping for 200 for the WAI2K, and that would be good for the first year.”

“I run an event called the WUU2K [Wellington Urban Ultra with 2k of elevation] in Wellington and that’s been my main event for the past five years and unfortunately I had to cancel this year, so I gave entrants a chance to move their entry across, and we had about 30 people move across to the WAI2K, which was good.”

Thomas said the WAI2K races are not for the faint hearted.

“It’s for the adventurers out there but it appeals to a lot of people these days. There are a lot of locals interested, and there will be a lot coming in from around the country.”

A children’s triathlon with a twist will be held on the Saturday based at Borderlandz Paintball, west of Carterton.

“Catherine Rossiter-Stead has come on board and will run a trial event for about 100 kids,” Thomas said.

“It will involve a run leg, a bike leg, and a paintball leg, and that adds an element of difference for the kids.”

The festival will wrap on the Sunday with the WAINOT fun run along the Greytown Rail Trail.

  • Entries and more information about all events is at www.wairunfest.co.nz

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