Into the valley of sweat rode the 2000


Maximum field of mountain bikers and 700 runners to brave Motatapu test.

What: The Motatapu race is a 50km mountain bike ride or off-road marathon (42.2km) on a trail through
high-country stations partly owned by country music superstar Shania Twain

Where: Starts at Glendhu Bay and finishes at Butlers Green, Arrowtown

When: Saturday – marathon runners are expected to cross the finish line from 11am; bikers finish from 1pm


Young legs

Olivia Hill
Age: 22

Born-and-bred Queenstowner Olivia Hill is running the Motatapu marathon with her dad as “kind of a bet”.
The Otago University medical student only started running a month ago.

Her father Tony Hill, chairman of QLDC quango Lakes Environmental, has been pounding the pavement for a number of years – but Olivia is adamant she’ll keep pace with him.

“He’s probably got a bit more experience, but I’ve got a bit more youth,” she says.

The father-and-daughter duo, who competed together in the 2007 Motatapu bike race, have been jogging about three times a week, with longer runs on the weekend.

Olivia says while they’re just racing for fun, she still wants to keep up with her old man – and hopefully be in front at the end.

“He’s the motivation here – I don’t want him to beat me.”Young legs


Old Hand

Peter Atkinson
Age: 67

Peter Atkinson is the oldest mountain biker representing the Wakatipu on Saturday – but that won’t stop him from giving it his all.

Atkinson, who started road biking 22 years ago before switching to the sport’s more rugged cousin, has the experience to help him keep up with the youngsters.

He’s done the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge 20 times, competed in masters cycling races and finished the past three Motatapu events.

But Atkinson, who organises a cycling group called the Queenstown Pedallers, claims he’s not doing this year’s race to beat the clock.

“The scenery up that valley is absolutely amazing,” says the Queenstown-based geologist.

“One of the main reasons I do it is because I know it’s the only day of the year I can ride up there.”


First timer

Vanessa van Uden
Age: 42

It’s been eight months coming – now Queenstown Lakes District Council councillor Vanessa van Uden is days
away from braving the Motatapu trail on a mountain bike.

Van Uden’s first multisport event was the Southern Lakes Duathlon in March 2008.

She and a girlfriend decided to compete in the Motatapu after sweating it out in a gym cycling class last July.

She’s been taking no short cuts. Her schedule includes a one-and-a-half-hour bike ride on Wednesdays, a longer ride on Sundays, weights and cycling classes at the gym twice a week each and “a bit of running”.

In the past three weeks she’s completed Gore’s Moonshine Trail bike race and the Southern Lakes Triathlon.

Van Uden admits her “nerves are building up” but she and her mate Helen Skudder are already planning their next race – the Tour de Wakatipu on April 11.


Double the fun

Patrick and Eleanor Quaid
Ages: Patrick 52 and Eleanor 49

Patrick Quaid got top points from wife Eleanor for joining her in last year’s Motatapu marathon.

Says Eleanor: “I said I’d like to do it but I wouldn’t do it by myself. So Pat said he’d do it with me.”

The Quaids – both Wakatipu High teachers – are off and running again this year.

“We’ve done a lot of hill runs in training,” Eleanor says.

“There was about 36km of straight up last year … but it’s only when you get out and do it that you know how much that is.”

Their goal last year was just to finish so they combined walking and running. But this year they’ve decided to try and run the entire challenging course.


Top Guns

Kashi Leuchs (top left) and Marcus Roy
Age: Leuchs 30 and Roy 24

Two top Kiwi mountain bikers lock horns after having teamed up for two endurance races last month.

Olympic cross-country biker Kashi Leuchs (above) and fellow national representative Marcus Roy (right) joined forces for the Otago Peninsula Challenge and the four-day Skins Alpine Epic – they won both.

Roy is the Motatapu mountain biking guru – the Invercargill-based racer has won all four past events.

He reckons while he’s not as fit as last year, when he posted a record time of 1hr 57min 47sec, his intimate knowledge of the route will help him beat Europe-based trail first-timer Leuchs: “That will definitely play in my favour.”

The Motatapu is the launching pad for Leuchs’ mountain biking season. He flies to South Africa the next day to compete in the seven-day 666km Cape Epic race before returning to Europe for the World Cup circuit.

The Dunedin-bred sportsman is quietly confident. “I don’t under­estimate [Marcus] one bit,” says Leuchs, who reckons he’s almost recovered from the fatigue that’s dogged him since last year’s Beijing Olympics.

“I don’t know how he’s been going in past years but I know how fast he’s going now, and he’s moving.

“But I’m pretty confident my form will be up there.”