Top international runners are lending kudos to Queenstown’s first mountain marathon.
The Shotover Moonlight Mountain Marathon this Saturday has attracted top-rated runners Martin Cox, Anna Frost and Grant Guise.
Cox is a British mountain running champion who also specialises in international tower runs.
Dunedin’s Frost won the world mountain running grand prix in 2008 and the last two San Francisco 50 Mile races. Frost is part of the Salomon professional mountain running team, as is Guise.
Guise has won many New Zealand races including the local Routeburn Classic in 2010.
Also competing is prominent Australian multi-marathoner Jane Trumper.
Organiser Adrian Bailey, of Queenstown, expects local runners like Morgan Garandel, Darren Blackhurst, Simon Green and Chris Dagg to also do well.
Bailey says other marathoners are also coming from Europe, America, Hong Kong and Australia.
Bailey’s a little disappointed with the size of the marathon field, which closed at almost 100 last Sunday, but thinks that’s because he only announced the event three months ago.
“It is a tough marathon that people have to train for – so many people have said it’s in their diary next year.
“They’re so keen and eager to see that scenery and experience it but they want to enjoy it to a certain extent as well.
“I’m astounded by how much talk there is in Europe and America portraying this as one of the must-do marathons of the world.”
Many runners had already committed to other long-distance runs this summer, Bailey says.
Bailey expects about another 200 runners to take part in the 5km, 10km and half-marathon this Saturday – entries for those races close on race day.
“Many people are using the shorter events to train for their chosen marathons like Routeburn and Motatapu.”
The marathon runs from the Pipeline bungy site in Skippers Canyon via the Shotover River and Moonlight Track to Moke Lake. The shorter events start and finish at Moke Lake.
The marathon starts at 8am and the other events at 10am.
Runners as they finish will loop around the film set for Jane Campion’s TV thriller Top of the Lake.
Among those filming the event will be an Australian crew shooting a six-part TV series, Born To Run, featuring runners tackling desert marathons in five continents.