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On the edge: French competitor Martin Gaffuri negotiates the trail during last year's Shotover Moonlight Mountain Marathon

The Shotover Moonlight Mountain Marathon continues to be a major drawcard, with more than 600 entrants ready to hit the trails tomorrow.

Organised by Ben Lomond Station owners the Foster family, the Queenstown event’s now in its ninth year, and Hamish Foster says its popularity continues to grow.

Competitors are coming from 17 countries this year, with Australians making up a quarter of the field.

“There’s significant numbers of overseas visitors coming, and a lot of people have put this particular race on their bucket list, and they’re arranging their New Zealand holidays around it.

“That’s humbling, and quite cool.”

It’ll be held over four distances: marathon, 30km, half marathon and a 6km loop around Moke Lake.

The latter two distances can be entered on the day.

The 6km run, which follows a Department of Conservation track next to the station, is a first this year.

“They can come out and do the round-the lake loop, and then support their family and friends as they come out from the marathon,” Foster says.

He puts the event’s success down to several factors, but spectacular scenery’s undoubtedly one of them.

“It’s extremely varied, from beech forest to high peaks, razorback ridges and waterfalls.

“But it goes so much deeper than the scenery.”

The trails follow traditional mustering routes the Fosters’ predecessors have used for 150 years to bring sheep off the high country, as well as a network of historic goldmining water races.

Above all, the event’s “very tough”.

“It’s a big challenge, and some people seek out these challenging events like ours.”

The 30km adventure run takes the most direct route from Skippers Canyon through the middle of the station, with 1450m of climbing and descending.

But the big daddy is the mountain marathon, which takes a more circuitous route from Skippers to Moke Lake, and has more than 2600m of elevation.

Although the station suffered some damage from last week’s heavy rain, the course was not affected and is “looking good”, Foster says.

guy.williams@scene.co.nz