The good, bad and madness of Motatapu 2011



Running’s a stress relief for the quake victim who won Saturday’s Motatapu marathon. 

Vajin Armstrong – who also won the 60km Kepler Challenge in Fiordland last December – says his Christchurch music store was destroyed in last month’s quake. 

“Running’s great ’cos it gives you a way to let go of all that stress. 

“It gives me something to focus my attention on so I’m not sitting around at home.” 

Armstrong – who’s glad he shook off his only rival 12km into the race – says he’s glad he didn’t have a “brutal finish” because he’s competing in a 100km ultramarathon near Rotorua this Saturday. 

The 30-year-old explains his former Indian meditation teacher gave him his first name – it means “swift, strong, spirited and heroic”. 

Armstrong’s wife Prasasta – “she who is contented” – also ran the marathon.

Pain barrier 

Women’s distance-running pioneer Kathrine Switzer – who famously crashed the all-male Boston Marathon in 1967 – tripped badly on Saturday’s run. 

The Wellington-based 64-year-old took a “body slam” on her chest and head about 22km into the marathon.
Despite chest pain, she finished 18 minutes faster than last year in 5hrs 20min. 

Even better, she was diagnosed with only bad bruising after waiting for hours behind injured mountain bikers at Lakes District Hospital. 

A former American, Switzer successfully fought to secure the women’s marathon for the Olympic Games.
Last year’s Motatapu was her first marathon in 34 years. 

Switzer fell in love with the area and the concept of the race when commentating for it in 2008.

Hot stuff  

Locals Darren Blackhurst and Chris Dagg defended their Motatapu adventure run title with support from an aerial cheerleading squad. 

An all-female crew of six, including Blackhurst’s wife Kate and a massage therapist, made three chopper landings over the gruelling 49km four-peak course. 

“They encouraged us vigorously,” Dagg, 43, says. 

He and Blackhurst, 44, finished in 7hr 31min 29secs, six and a half minutes slower than their time in last year’s inaugural run, 

Both suffered quite a bit in the heat, Dagg says. 

“We were discussing our level of sanity as were running through Macetown.”

Sky high 

Air New Zealand’s high-profile boss Rob Fyfe did his Motatapu marathon in tramping boots to prepare for a Himalayan trek. 

He’s climbing to Everest Base Camp with 14 Air NZ colleagues in six weeks’ time. 

Fyfe, who completed Motatapu in 6:53.03sec, “says “the scenery is just stunning and we couldn’t ask for better conditions. 

“I’ll absolutely be back next year, I just loved it,” Fyfe adds.

Five alive

Raving afterwards about Saturday’s Motatapu mountain bike race was 2004 Olympic gold medal triathlete Hamish Carter. 

“I certainly enjoyed it but I’m not really in any shape to ride that distance any more so I struggled and really blew up with an hour to go.” 

Carter competed to fundraise for the Pink Pilates programme for women recovering from cancer. 

He also fired a horn to start the inaugural Motatapu triathlon at Wanaka’s Glendhu Bay earlier in the day. 

Carter has a suggestion for the Motatapu organisers, who now run five simultaneous events: “I think there should be a special award if you do all five – it would be the ultimate adventure package.” 

Record breaker

Queenstowner Sarah Coghlan broke the women’s marathon record in only her second long-distance run.
Cheered on by her Print Central workmates, she notched 3:19.48sec, beating the record of former world champion mountain runner Melissa Moon by six seconds. 

Coghlan, 26 – who came third in last year’s Kepler Challenge in Fiordland – says she performed better than she’d expected. 

In her teens she specialised in shorter distances. 

She won a running scholarship to the United States and at 17 placed third in the New Zealand cross-country champs. 

Golden oldie

Saturday’s oldest competitor was once again Arrowtowner Max McDermid. 

The 82-year-old completed the Miner’s Trail in 3:33.02secs, eight minutes faster than in the inaugural 15km event last year. 

“The hills were a bit steeper this time. 

“They raised them a bit higher – it must have been the earthquake.” 

Wine trail

Newly-engaged TVNZ political editor Guyon Espiner is glad he didn’t have another bet with the Prime Minister over his Motatapu time. 

Last year Espiner, then 39, had to shell out a bottle of wine to John Key, who’d bet he wouldn’t break four hours for the marathon. 

Espiner missed out by an agonising one minute and 27 seconds. 

But this time he was about 17 minutes slower. 

“The conditions were perfect and the rivers weren’t as cold. 

“Maybe it’s because I’m a year older, maybe I was enjoying the scenery too much.”

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