Local love for Motatapu


Thousands enter the annual Motatapu multi-discipline event every year – and 84-year-old Arrowtowner Max McDermid enjoys it as much as anyone.

The retiree walked the Motatapu’s 15km Miners Trail for the fourth year in a row, finishing in Arrowtown last Saturday after three hours and 32 minutes. 

“I’m starting to run out of mates – I’ve got to do it with these young farts now,” McDermid says, referring to walking partner and Arrowtown councillor Lex Perkins, 73. 

“He stayed with me – didn’t put the pace on,” McDermid says. 

The Korean War veteran who moved to Arrowtown 25 years ago and worked as a rural delivery postie before retiring says he walks Tobin’s Track out there most mornings. 

“I live in this area – it’s such a lovely area to live in and walk in. You’ve got to have a challenge at my age, you’ve got to get up in the morning and get going.” 

This year, McDermid was among more than 3700 competitors who took part in the Miners Trail, off-road marathon from Wanaka to Arrowtown, mountain bike, triathlon and a multisport race involving a run, kayak and bike ride. 

Christchurch police­man Chris Dunnell, who won the open’s men’s marathon in three hours, five minutes and one second, says he had to battle through the final 10km with leg cramps. 

“I had to stop about three times to stretch. It wasn’t pleasant. But the course was absolutely stunning – we’re so lucky to have a country like this.” 

Dunnell, 26, says it’s his second marathon – after doing plenty of halves he decided at the start of the year to focus more on his running and try the longer distance. 

Of the famous faces, Kiwi four-time world squash champion Dame Susan Devoy completed the marathon five minutes shy of six hours, while local MP and deputy Prime Minister Bill English completed the mountain bike in 3:48. 

Results: (marathon men’s) 1st Chris Dunnell 3:05:01, 2nd Struan Webb 3:07:28, 3rd Doug Compson 3:23.32; (women’s) 1st Marjolein Ross 3:33:33, 2nd Mel Aitken 3:40:31, 3rd Eveline Coombe 3:47:57.