Runners can still grab a place in all distances at the Queenstown International Marathon – which will have 1000 extra spot this year.
But those who take on the full 42km marathon or the half-marathon on November 19 will still have to conquer an infamous, energy-sapping hill near Queenstown Airport.
The high-profile event, sponsored by Air New Zealand, is now in its third year.
It was created by Lagardere Unlimited Oceania, which capped numbers to about 6000 the first year to ensure it could be run smoothly.
It was hit by vicious weather but the event stood up to it, just about.
Auckland-based LUO, which also owns the Motatapu, increased capacity to 9000 last year, introducing wave-starts.
Race director Nicole Fairweather confirms numbers for November’s race have increased to 10,000, with spaces still available.
“None of the races have sold out yet but we’re tracking really well for another great year,” Fairweather says.
“The half is getting near to full, but there’s still space.”
Entries close at midnight on October 27.
Fairweather says the event could easily go bigger but the town is the limiting factor.
“There’s heaps we can do to get more runners on the track but it’s down to the infra-structure and what it can hold.
“I know quite a few athletes are struggling to get accom-modation.”
Fairweather says a gut-busting hill on the banks of the Kawarau River has been retained at the request of runners.
It was originally part of a detour around a damaged section of the Queenstown Trail,
“We asked in the survey and 62 per cent wanted to keep it, so you go with the runners,” she says.
“It’s a nice wee challenge – I do it myself quite a bit, I quite enjoy it.”
Fairweather says, in fact, no changes have been made to the main courses.
The marathon will start at Millbrook, while the half-marathon start is at Speargrass Flat and the 10km at Frankton.
The start of the 3km kids’ race will be moved to Queenstown Gardens.
All races finish at the Queenstown Recreation Ground.
LUO is a satellite of Europe’s largest event company, which was acquired in January by global sports giant brand Ironman, which has Chinese ownership.