New runner stunner

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A new mountain running race in stunning Queens­town backcountry is expected to attract hundreds of competitors. 

Queenstown long-distance runner Adrian Bailey is organising the Shotover Moonlight Mountain Marathon for February 4, during Waitangi weekend. 

The marathon will run from the old Pipeline bungy site in Skippers Canyon, via the Moonlight Track, to Moke Lake. 

It will also feature 5km, 10km and half-marathon runs that start and finish at Moke Lake. 

Bailey says the race will have a “wow” factor due to the panoramic scenery, the variety of terrain, including river trails, bluffs and ridge-lines, and signs of the area’s rich goldmining history. 

“On the ridge-lines you can see Queenstown, which is fantastic, but also other mountain regions like Mount Aspiring and, of course, Ben Lomond,” he says. 

“There will be world-class mountain runners in the race, without a doubt. 

“There is interest from America, Australia and up north – people are already raring to enter. 

“I would think that the fastest [marathon] time would be just under three hours – even though it’s a good testing course, you make up a lot of time on the long, gradual downhills.” 

Bailey – who organises an annual 5km and 10km running series at Queenstown’s Jack’s Point – expects about 250 to 300 entries in the shorter races. The marathon can take up to 420 runners. 

“In the first year I’d be ecstatic if I get 200,” Bailey says. 

The idea for the race came after Bailey was introduced to Ben Lomond farm owner John Foster by veteran local multisporter John Knight. 

“We were organising logistics for a triathlon at Moke Lake when John Foster asked me what I thought of mountain running around here. 

“I said, ‘What were you thinking of?’ In such a blase way, John said, ‘Well, see all this, it’s mine’,” Bailey explains. 

“And it was just, like, jaw-dropping ‘Wow’.”