Record entries for Motatapu

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Competitors will be running, hiking, biking and swimming their way from Wanaka to Arrowtown in record numbers tomorrow.

Entries for the 11th Motatapu Off-Road Sporting Event are up 11 per cent from last year, to 4567.

The mountain bike event is again the most popular, with 2843 bikers of all levels tackling the 47km high country course - a 24 per cent from last year.

Attracting slight increases are the off-road marathon and 15km Miners Trail with 721 and 671 entries, respectively.

Almost a third more people will tackle the gruelling 51km adventure run thanks to the addition of a solo category - there’ll be 41 solo runners and 25 teams of two.

The triathlon, starting with a swim in Lake Wanaka, has 44 teams, comprising 125 competitors, and 116 individuals.

Thanks to a marketing strategy revamp, international competitors have grown from 177 to 309, with athletes from as far away as Canada and the United States.

And the Auckland market’s grown from 403 to 542.

A rejig of start times has also allowed this year’s field to grow.

By way of comparison, about 1300 competitors entered the first Motatapu in 2005, across the mountain bike and marathon events only.

Motatapu’s nowadays owned by the Queenstown Trails Trust which has brought in international sports event managers Lagardere Unlimited Oceania - which organised the inaugural Queenstown Marathon.

“The current economic benefit to Wanaka, Arrowtown and Queenstown is high and with an average length of stay per competitor of 3.3 days, plus an average support crew of 1.24 people accompanying them, the event has the potential to impact on the region even more significantly in years to come,” Lagardere chief executive officer Dave Beeche says.

A major change this year is that the Arrowtown finish line will be at the more roomy Wilcox Green, rather than Butlers Green.

Organisers have also named a trophy after Max McDermid, Motatapu’s oldest competitor, who died at 86 last September.

The Arrowtowner competed in the Miners Trail for the past five years.

This year’s oldest competitor is 82-year-old John Falconer, of Gore, who’s entering the marathon.

Saturday’s youngest competitor will be 11-year-old Angus Williamson, of Auckland, who’s competing in the Miners Trail.

scoop@scene.co.nz