By TRACEY ROXBURGH
Queenstown’s Shotover Moonlight Marathon & Trail Runs will double as the New Zealand Sky Running Champs next year, and include a new uphill-only race — a first for Oceania.
Scheduled for February, next year’s event will include 56km, 42km, 30km, 21km and 10km distances, as well as the ‘Ben Lomond Vertical Kilometre’ — a ‘‘short, sharp’’ 3.9km climb.
The 11th edition of the event, organised by Ben Lomond Station owners and managers John and Ginny Foster, will be held in partnership with Sky Running Australia and NZ
Event co-director Antz Longman says the new partnership’s been a few years in the making and comes after talks with SANZA and athletes about how best to support the development of the sport in NZ.
‘‘This also gives NZ athletes an opportunity to gain experience in the discipline before heading overseas.
“By hosting a Vertical Kilometre (VK), the NZ Championships and being a World Championship qualifying event, we’re able to help those looking for a pathway to the world
SANZA president David Byrne says ‘‘there’s no better event’’ to host the champs.
‘‘Apart from being a true sky running experience, it’s an event that offers runners unrivalled views, and an atmosphere that truly reflects the community spirit of the sport.’’
The cherry on the top is the addition of the VK race, he says.
‘‘Long have we been after a VK in our region, and to finally have one on the calendar is thrilling.
‘‘It’s a race every trail runner should be keen to tackle.’’
Byrne says next year will be a ‘‘huge’’ one for sky running, with a packed schedule on both sides of the Tasman, the world youth and world open championships, for which the Shotover Moonlight races, being held between February 17 and 20, will be a selection event.