Racers’ gut-wrenching test


The Motatapu is renowned for being a gut-wrenching slog - but some athletes face extra challenges this weekend.

Queenstowner Sara Leadbetter was told she would never walk again after both of her femur leg bones were shattered in a motorbike accident about 20 years ago.

Against all odds, she’ll take to the water for the 2km swim leg of the triathlon event on Saturday.

Leadbetter is living proof of her own advice: “You can do anything you want.”

The triathlon is just one of five events, with the others being a 47km mountain bike, 42km marathon run, 15km miners trail run or, if you’re really bonkers, the 51km ultra run.

Organisers say they’ve got more than 3300 entries.

Christchurch’s Chad Gillespie will tick the event off as his seventeenth marathon in 17 months.

As a Motatapu veteran, he’s looking forward to charging through the “magic” river crossings towards the end of the race.

Arrowtown’s Veronica Rotman has a particularly fishy tale.

Rotman decided to enter in the marathon to raise money for the critically endangered Maui dolphins.

Not naturally a running fanatic, the 20-year-old - who studies marine biology and zoology at Otago University - is taking one for the pod.

“It’s the last thing I would have ever done,” she says. “I exercise and stuff but nowhere near to this level - this is the hardest thing I think I’ve ever done.”

Mountain Scene’s Paul “Wrecking Ball” Taylor can also be found lacing his shoes up for the marathon on Saturday.

All of the events, except for the Miners Trail which starts and finishes in Arrowtown, begin in Wanaka’s Glendu Bay, then, after a scenic rumble through Motatapu, Soho and Glencoe stations, finish up in Arrowtown’s Wilcox Green.