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Icebreaker Off-Road Marathon ‘brutal but beautiful’

Icebreaker Off-Road Marathon ‘brutal but beautiful’

Around 700 runners from across the globe were awake with the sparrows today (Saturday March 8) to tackle the 42km Icebreaker Off-Road Marathon in Wanaka and Queenstown.

Starting at Motatapu Station near Glendhu Bay in Wanaka, the iconic off-road course traversed through the magnificent Motatapu, Soho and Glencoe stations, opened just once a year to the public for this event.

Hundreds greeted competitors as they crossed the finish line at Butler’s Green in Arrowtown, with Stafford Thompson from Dunedin taking out male top spot in a time of 2hr 57min 15 sec and top female Sarah Douglas not far behind in a time of 3:19:20.

Having braved numerous river crossings and some steep hills, most competitors admitted to being awe-struck by spectacular views of the southern high country valley.

Post-race, Stafford Thompson said he felt “wonderful’ “but a “little tired”.

He described the course as “beautiful” and conditions as “perfect”.

“It's really hard and steep, and a bloody long way but you it really makes you appreciate this part of the world.

“The volunteers are great, and the race has been set up so well, so I feel lucky to have been a part of it. It’s the first time I have run the Motatap, and quite a few members of my family are running in different events, so it seemed like a great place for a family reunion!”

Second male Luke Hurring from Auckland (3:03:42) said the course was “brutal but beautiful”.

“It’s one of those courses where you feel hopeless and tired, but you look around and it’s just so beautiful.”

First female Sarah Douglas was disappointed to be about 30 seconds ‘shy’ of the course record which she held in 2011 (under her maiden name Sarah Coughlan), and came second in 2012 before taking a break last year.

“I just love it,” she said. “I haven’t raced in over a year so I didn’t know how I’d go so I’m happy with the win.

“I love the first half because I really push on the uphills, but I find the flatter stages quite hard before I find my rhythm again towards the end.”

Second female place-getter Anna Thompson (3:39:18) from Melbourne, a first-time competitor, said she “wasn't feeling 100%” but described the course as “really spectacular”.

“It goes through some great country and it seemed like a good idea at the time to do the race while I was on holiday from Melbourne.”


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