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Motatapu, Motatapu race, Ironman, Motatapu Events Ltd, Gemma Peskett, Gemma Boyle, Craig Gallagher, 2021 race, date change, Motatapu Station, Glencoe Station, Mt Soho Station, Geoff Matthews, Tracey Neill, Tom Pryde, Iconic Adventures, Queenstown Trails Trust, Ironman Group Oceania, Dave Beeche, Covid-19, two-day format, one-day format, marathon, mountain bike, ultra run, Miner's Trail, athlete separation, Wanaka, Queenstown, Arrowtown, suppliers, sponsors, Wanaka A&P Show, Upper Clutha, entry fee, official charity

By TRACEY ROXBURGH

An iconic mountain race is back in local hands.

The Motatapu race — which celebrated its 16th anniversary in March — has been sold by Ironman to Motatapu Events Ltd directors Gemma Peskett, nee
Boyle, and Craig Gallagher.

The deal officially went through late last week and the pair have wasted no time planning the 2021 event, which is moving forward by a week, to March 6, and scaling back to four events for next year.

The event — the only time of the year people can traverse the Motatapu, Glencoe and Mt Soho stations — was founded in 2005 by Geoff Matthews, Tracey Neill and Tom Pryde, who ran it under Iconic Adventures, before it sold to the Queenstown Trails Trust in 2013.

The trust later contracted Ironman to run it, before that company eventually bought it.

The Motatapu’s got a special place in Peskett and Gallagher’s hearts — between them they’ve got 15 years’ experience helping to run it.

Gallagher says there appeared to have been some uncertainty over the 2021 event, so they approached Ironman Group’s Oceania boss Dave Beeche and started discussions about two or three months ago.

‘‘Once the doors were of a potential opening we wanted it to be quick in order to deliver ‘21.’’

This year’s event, held just before Covid arrived here in March, attracted about 4000 competitors over seven different categories and was held over two days.

Next year, though, it’ll be stripped back to its roots, with just the marathon, mountain bike, ultra run and Miner’s Trail being held in one day.

Peskett: ‘‘We’ve looked at the events that have been run the last couple of years and while they’re all awesome in their own right, we kind of feel with the timeframes leading in to 2021, and just where things are at the
moment, that we’re going to bring it back to four events for 2021.’’

The pair are also ‘‘really closely’’ looking at athlete separation, particularly in light of reverting to a one-day format, ‘‘to make sure that we get it nailed’’ for next year, she says.

‘‘The good thing is there’s a lot of historic information and data we can trawl through and work the best possible model for when we start those events to get the best flow for the athletes on the course.’’

The date change also means better outcomes for Wanaka and Queenstown.

Previously the Motatapu’s clashed with the Wanaka A&P Show, which has also impeded the ability for local sponsors and suppliers to support, and benefit from, both events.

Gallagher: ‘‘Prior, it was a bit of a juggle, [sponsors and suppliers] could potentially just do one or the other and, therefore, out-of-district suppliers were used.

‘‘It means we can use the local businesses between Queenstown, Arrowtown and all through Wanaka and Upper Clutha, they’ll all benefit.

‘‘That’s really key for us, especially with the Covid times … making sure everyone does see a benefit, from the athlete through to the local economy.’’

The pair are also reducing all the entry fees for next year to recognise the impact of Covid.

However, they’ve recommitted to the Queenstown Trails Trust, which’ll stay on as the official charity and receive $7 from every entry fee.

Entries open at noon today via motatapu.com

tracey.roxburgh@scene.co.nz