Queenstowner Evan McWhirter’s won a new 10-year Department of Conservation concession for his Routeburn Classic running race after facing heartburn over its future.
Having organised the annual Routeburn Track run, mostly held in late April, since 2001, he’d been granted regular concession renewals.
Last year, however, DoC advised it was seeking expressions of interest due to an apparent new interpretation of the Mount Aspiring National Park management plan.
‘‘You’d think someone would be notified when it directly affects their business they’ve been growing for, like, 20 years,’’ he says.
McWhirter’s company, Good Times Events, and three other parties applied for a new concession.
Before a decision was made, Good Times was all owed a one-year extension to run this year’s event — which, as it happened, had to be canned due to Covid crowd restrictions.
McWhirter’s now been advised he’s been successful with a new 10-year concession, starting next year — he’s also been allowed a maximum 400 runners per event, up from 350.
The extension’s a great relief, he says.
‘‘Ten years is significant, you want that for everybody, not just for myself, but for athletes, as well — with the certainty, people are able to prepare.’’
McWhirter pays credit to local DoC operations manager David Butt — ‘‘when he came on, things started to click’’.
Next year’s Classic’s on April 29, with entries open ing at noon on February 6.