Motatapu magic (with slideshow)

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Gus guns it 

The former national mountain running champ who won Motatapu’s 2010 off-road marathon says he was just doing it for “a bit of fun”.
Auckland’s Gus Bell, 29, says his girlfriend and some mates were entering, so he joined them.
Bell, the 2007 New Zealand mountain running champ, had no expectations, having just returned from a two-year lay-off due to a stress fracture in his back.
“I was just going to take it easy but after the first couple of kilometres I thought I have to go hard because it’s too cold.
“I thought I’m just going to go for it.”
Bell says he broke into a lead early and was by himself for the whole race, which he won in 3hr 4min 3sec.
“It was pretty lonely.
“I really enjoyed my first 30km but coming down that hill at the end was hard so I’m feeling it now.”
Bell now plans targeting the NZ Mountain Running Championships in mid-April.
Christchurch’s Alexandra Williams, 28, won the women’s marathon, in 3:25:31. She was sixth last year.
“The gradual climbs get to you, but the last 10km I felt pretty strong.”

A Hogg in gravel

Motatapu mountain biker Tony Hogg didn’t let a nasty spill prevent him making the podium. The third place-getter made a mess of his thigh (below) during a fall within the first few minutes of the race.
“Someone went across me. Their front wheel hit my rear and I just ended up sprawled on the gravel.”
Dunedinite Hogg, 35, finished in 2hr 1min 17sec, just over three minutes behind winner Marcus Roy. Christchurch wonderkid Anton Cooper, 15, came second.

A little R&R

Queenstown R&R Sport shop co-owner Mark Williams came seventh in the mountain bike event, saying the track was faster this year. “The trail’s been graded. I had a bit of a flat spot in the middle when I was on my own. When you’re on your own, you feel the pace a bit. Some of the others caught me and that spurs you on.”

Adventures of dynamite duo

Wakatipu running legend Chris “The Flying Bone” Dagg and partner Darren Blackhurst (far right) won the inaugural 50km Adventure Run. The 34 teams of two set off at 6am and had to stay within 50 metres of each other at all times during the challenging run. Dagg and Blackhurst finished in 7hr 25min 6sec, but Dagg says the biggest challenge was “putting up with this spaz for seven and a half hours”. The slowest pair took 12 hours and 40 minutes.

Just filling in time waiting on the wife

The winner of the inaugural 15km Miners Trail off-road race says it gave him something to do while his wife ran the marathon.
Christchurch cop Graeme Harris (left), 40, knocked off what he called the “tough, little course” in 1hr 30min 31sec.
“My wife is doing the marathon so I thought I’d fill in time by doing this. I’m not doing a lot of running so it suited me.
“It’s tough. There are some good hill climbs and good downhills as well.”
Harris didn’t have to wait long for some company at the finish line.
The first woman home for the Miners Trail – Dunedin’s Louisa Andrew (right) – arrived 15 seconds later.
“It was fantastic. I love mountain running and that was the best one I’ve done,” she says.

No strain on trail

Queenstowner Rachel Rose (right) says a shorter event like the Miners Trail is great for someone like her – she suffers from a chronic Achilles strain.
“I don’t really do marathons anymore. It’s perfect for those that are injured.”
Rose knocked the 15km off four minutes shy of two hours but says it’s grueling.
“It was far more off road and cross-country than I was expecting. There were not many places you could stretch out.”

Solid booking

Queenstowner Andrew Wilson (left) entered the new Miners Trail race a year ago to ensure he’d remain in the resort.
“My girlfriend and I have been moving around a bit.
“I moved to Queenstown last year and thought if I booked something a year in advance it would make me stay.”
The 23-year-old now has his sights set on the Motatapu’s full marathon.
“I’m going to do the proper one next year.”

Box of nerves

Queenstown engineer Will Oswald says he had plenty of nerves at the marathon start line.
“I was really nervous about how fast to go so I went really slow for the first 20km, but once I got to the high point I knew how far to go.”
The 27-year-old (right) came 31st in 3hr 43min 9sec.
“I actually didn’t find it too bad.”

Plonk for the PM

It’s unlike TV One political editor Guyon Espiner (above) to miss a deadline.
But he did at the Motatapu finish – and his failure to break the four-hour mark for the marathon cost him a wager with Prime Minister John Key.
“The PM bet me a bottle of wine I couldn’t do it under four hours.”
Espiner, 39, missed out by an agonising one minute and 27 seconds.
“The rivers killed me. It’s so cold you can’t feel your feet. I was watching the clock really carefully but at the end there are half a dozen quite deep rivers.”

No training, no worries 

Queenstown wine rep Graeme Smith didn’t let a lack of training get in the way of a respectable marathon time.
Smith, 44, a top local tennis player, clocked in at 4hr 32min 27sec despite not building up to the event with any actual running.
“Well, I had the Cromwell races last Sunday, so that was that day and Monday gone. On the Tuesday I had tennis so that was out as well,” he jokes.
“At about the 30km mark I was feeling it. But I was just chugging away and it’s pretty much downhill from there.
“I did really pace myself and with 10km to go I stretched out a bit.”

No sweat for Max and Hec

Conquering Motatapu’s new 15km Miners Trail event was little problem for 81-year-old Max McDermid (far left) and 72-year-old walking buddy Hec Smith. The two Arrowtowners both praise the course and views. “We put a bit of training in and found it reasonably good going,” Smith says.