Sweating Motatapu



Nearly 4000 athletes are set to charge through the hills between Wanaka and Arrowtown this weekend during the 16th Macpac Motatapu.

The Motatapu’s grown to incorporate seven different running and biking events across two days – it’s the only time of year anyone can venture into parts or Mt Soho and Motatapu Stations, which are privately owned by notable record producer Mutt Lange.

Race director Danielle Sherman says Motatapu competitors are the sort of athletes who certainly like to suffer a little.

“What we’re seeing in trail running and mountain biking is that year-on-year people want more and more to really challenge themselves and see what they’re capable of,” Sherman says.

“People want to be put outside their comfort zone.”

Sherman’s happy with the numbers for the 2020 Motatapu despite there being no shortage of these kinds of events happening in the Queenstown region this time of year.

“We keep developing the event, we made it two days to be able to grow the marathon numbers so that the mountain bikers and marathon runners weren’t going through the valley on the same day.

“We are always going to try and keep something new on the radar.”

Operated and owned by Ironman Oceania, $7 from every entry fee goes to the Queenstown Trails Trust, which maintains and develops trails around the Wakatipu.

Sherman says the event relies on the generosity of people’s time, with 180 volunteers signed up across the two days.

This weekend, top Wanaka athlete Dougal Allan’s set to compete in the off-road triathlon, just seven days after finishing fifth in Ironman New Zealand in Taupo.

“Macpac Motatapu would present one of the most spectacular open water swimming settings anywhere in the world,” Allan says.

“Riding a bike through Motatapu Station is a special privilege and a beautiful and varied mountain bike course.

“Then the finish-line vibes at Arrowtown’s Wilcox Green are right up there as far as race atmospheres go in any event I have done.”

With some disrupted competition plans due to coronavirus, Allan didn’t hesitate to race in his own neighbourhood, despite the fact he might be carrying a bit of fatigue into the event.

“But I will simply adjust my expectations and continue to focus on the enjoyment of being involved in such a magnificent event on the day.”

Motatapu translates to ‘sacred river’ and was used by early Maori for food gathering and the moving of pounamu.

The longest of the seven events is the triathlon – it involves a 1km swim, a 46.5km mountain bike and an 8km run.

Athletes from New Zealand and 19 other countries are coming for the event.