Entries for today’s off-road multi-sport event, Macpac Motatapu, are up more than 400 on last year.
Almost 4000 athletes and weekend warriors from 25 countries will compete in the 14th edition of the event, held each year between Lake Wanaka’s Glendhu Bay and Arrowtown.
For the first time, entries didn’t close till this morning.
“That gives all the procrastinators and people who are waiting to see what the weather does a chance to enter,” race director Danielle Sherman says.
Just over 2000 mountain bikers will tackle the 47km Motatapu trail either solo or in teams.
That’s about 200 up on last year.
For the first time, about 50 e-bikers are entering – “not for a race, but a tour”, Sherman says.
The next most popular event is again the off-road marathon, which has attracted just over 500 competitors.
There are also good fields for the Xterra Triathlon and 15km Miners Trail – a circuit above Arrowtown – while a new event is the 8.5km Sawpit Trail Run on the Sawpit Gully Track near Arrowtown.
Meanwhile the 51km Ultra Run, featuring 2790m of climbing, has seen solo and team entries almost double to 179.
“When you consider the type of terrain and what they’re putting their bodies through, it’s pretty impressive that that number of people have put up their hands.”
Australian Lucy Bartholomew, who won the women’s Ultra Run by almost two hours last year in a record 7hr 3min 9sec, will be challenged this time by former West Coaster Ruth Croft.
Croft, who recently moved to Wanaka, after 10 years in Taiwan, last year won a 75km ultra-run in France, a marathon in Spain, a 30km run in Switzerland and was second in a 120km run in Italy.
Though Queenstown Trails Trust has sold Motatapu to Ironman Oceania, it remains the event’s main charity, receiving $7 from every entry.
Once again all six events finish at Arrowtown’s Wilcox Green.