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Macpac Motatapu Set To Stun Locals And Visitors Alike

Close to 4,000 participants from around New Zealand and 19 countries around the world will this weekend enjoy the best that Central Otago has to offer as they take in the stunning scenery and challenge offered up by seven events at Macpac Motatapu, the 16th hosting of the iconic multi-sport event.

For the second year the event is hosted over the two days, with Saturday reserved for the Mountain Bike, E-Bike Tour, Off-Road Triathlon and Ultra-Marathon, while Sunday is exclusively for the trail running and walking events, with the Off-Road Marathon, Miners Trail, Sawpit Trail and Junior Trail Run events.

Race Director Danielle Sherman says the success of the long-running event can be put down to a number of key factors.

“There is so much variety at Macpac Motatapu, there really is an event for everyone regardless of ability, background or age. For those not keen on the longer running events or keen to take on the mountain bike or triathlon courses, the chance to hike or walk the trail running events is increasingly proving a great attraction and with the addition of the Junior Trail Run, we truly have an event for every family member.

“That variety on offer and the beautiful nature of the courses captures people the moment they arrive. Whether starting your day in the crisp clear waters of Lake Wanaka in the triathlon, or the Ultra-Run that takes runners over and through the valley to Arrowtown or the once a year chance to ride your mountain bike through otherwise closed trails or simply to join us on the trails around Arrowtown the scenery is breathtaking and a reminder of how stunning this part of the world is.”

And while much of the focus will be on the ‘winners’ of each event, Sherman says the event is full of amazing stories of everyday people doing incredible things.

“We are continually inspired by the stories behind the competitors, whether it is a bucket list item being ticked off, a family reunion, a health hurdle being overcome or something as simple as getting together with a few friends or colleagues for a weekend away in the outdoors, we are constantly amazed at people making time in their busy lives to come and create a few memories on Macpac Motatapu.”

The following is just a small selection of those inspiring stories behind the participants this weekend:

John Douglas, 67 years old, Lumsden, Mountain Bike
John’s story is fascinating as he returns to the region where his three Uncles Jack, Bill and Ronnie Dagg crashed a twin-engine aircraft back in 1963 while sheep spotting on Mt Soho Station. All survived and John’s father was in the rescue team. Bill Dagg still lives in Arrowtown today and will no doubt enjoy a visit from John.

Glen Pleasants, 49 years old, Dunedin, Mountain Bike
Glen lives life to the full and is always looking for amazing adventures and new challenges to live up to that creed. Glen contracted leukemia aged 30 and loves every minute taking on events such as Macpac Motatapu

Geordie Mansford, 26 years old, Wanaka, Off-Road Triathlon
Geordie had to learn to walk all over again after breaking his back skiing in Japan. Macpac Motatapu will be his first significant event since the accident and is an incredible testament to his powers of recovery.

Loren Nickson, 32 years old, Arrowtown, Mountain Bike
Loren is just a wonderful story of a local who is finally succumbing to lining up instead of watching others enjoy the event in her own backyard. Simply thought after living in Arrowtown for 15 years it was time to toe the start line!

Jean-Paul Bourguignon (66 years old) & Oliver Bourguignon (36 years old), Australia, Off-Road Marathon
This father and son pairing from Australia (New South Wales and Victoria respectively) have chosen Macpac Motatapu to debut over the distance and will proudly do so side by side.

Diane Foster, 48 years old, Christchurch, Off-Road Marathon
Diane is celebrating a ten-year anniversary post a terminal cancer diagnosis. Diane has lived life to the full and done so thanks to healing naturally, turning away from conventional advice at the time. Diane will be supported by her family on event, including husband Steve and sister Jo, both will take part in the Off-Road Marathon alongside Diane.

Macpac Motatapu has seen steady growth, bringing more participants and supporters to the region, increasing in numbers by 15% in the past three years, with that growth underpinned in recent times by the popularity of trail running, with the grueling Ultra-Run more than doubling numbers in that time.

The average age of participant is 42, with 59% male and 41% female. A significant 12% of entrants travel from overseas and typically stay in the region for longer to enjoy all it has to offer, further boosting the local economy and tourism industry.

The honour of the oldest athlete lining up goes to 87-year-old John Falconer in the Sawpit Trail (8.5km) and the youngest is 7-year-old Corbin Evans-Redpath who lines up in the very first Junior Trail Run on Sunday afternoon.

Countries represented include Australia, Great Britain, USA and Canada. Domestically the greatest representation comes from Canterbury, Otago, Auckland, Southland and Wellington with competitors travelling the length and breadth of both islands.


Sherman says all those participants from all around the world rely on one common denominator to enjoy their stay and have a safe race, the volunteers.

“Our volunteer crew is amazing, made up largely of locals or in some cases travelers who want to give something back to the community. In total we have 180 individuals, many representing community groups and clubs such as Queenstown Gymnastics, Remarkables Primary School, Queenstown Football Club, Queenstown Karate Club and Wanaka Youth Group.

“Their roles are varied but their commitment to the event and ensuring visitors and locals taking part are safe and have a great time is wonderful. We even have a crew of 30 out there camping in the Motatapu Valley preparing and looking after our aid stations – for them it is literally a few days in the middle of nowhere to help make this happen.”

In total close to 4,000 competitors will descend on the Central Otago region to participate in the six events on offer this Saturday and Sunday, as the iconic Macpac Motatapu continues to grow in its 16th year. The event is proud to support the Queenstown Trails Trust as the official charity, with a portion of each entry fee going directly towards the upkeep of the trails to ensure they are enjoyed by thousands of visitors year-round.

For more on the history of the Macpac Motatapu, CLICK HERE

Macpac Motatapu
March 14/15, 2020
Entries open for all events at www.motatapu.com

By the Numbers

  • 3,850 total competitors * entries still open
  • 19 countries represented
  • 42 average age
  • 87 oldest
  • 7 youngest
  • 180 volunteers
  • 60kg of jet planes
  • 300 boiled and salted potatoes (favourite on the Ultra-Run)
  • 3 days of mowing and clearing vegetation on the trails
  • 30 volunteers camping in Motatapu Valley to look after aid stations
  • 4000 Speights handed over at the finish line

Event Schedule

Saturday 14 March (includes estimated finish time at Wilcox Green)
6:00am Ultra Run – 51km (1pm)
9:00am Off-Road Triathlon – 1km swim, 47km mountain bike, 8.5km Sawpit Trail (11:15am)
8:45am – 10:30am Mountain Bike – 47km (10:30am)
12:00pm Ebike Tour – 47km


Sunday 15 March
7:30am Off Road Marathon – 42km (10:35am)
9:00am Miners Trail – 15km (10:15am)
9:30am Sawpit Trail – 8.5km (10:20am)
Midday – Junior Trail Run – 6km

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