Rising from the ashes

You can’t keep a good man — and his dream — down.

Wānaka running legend Mal Law has resurrected The Wild mountain running event with five races from nine-kilometres to 86km to be run around the rugged Arrowtown backcountry on December 8 and 9.

The inaugural event, due to be staged last December, was can celled when organiser, Christchurch-based Fusion Events, went into liquidation.

Law says it was a ‘‘horrible, horrible situation’’ that left nearly 700 runners — all but 10% from out of town — out of pocket for a combined $250,000.

He was personally left in the red for a five-figure sum.

‘‘I’m not responsible for the event falling over, but I’m feeling very responsible and very upset and very sorry for all the people who were backing it and getting excited about it.’’

Law concedes the temptation to give up on his passion project was quite strong for a while.

‘‘But I had been living and breathing it for four years and was determined to not throw in the towel that easily.’’

He got ownership of the event’s intellectual property assets from Fusion’s receivers, but says he didn’t want to set it up as another
commercial organisation.

Deeply passionate about native habitat restoration, especially in the backblocks where The Wild will be run, he decided to set up the Wild For Nature Charitable Trust.

It will both organise the race and fund and run native habitat restoration projects around the trails participants will run.

The trust’s seven trustees include Law and his wife, Sally, and fellow noted running event organisers Highland Events’ Terry Davis and
Queenstown Parkrun’s Chris Seymour, plus three other keen trail runners from around the country.

‘‘The end-goal of the trust is to do as much good work as it can in the area of native habitat restoration and to involve the trail running community in that work,’’ Law says.

‘‘Proceeds [from The Wild] will channel directly into that work.’’

This year’s event has already garnered ‘‘several hundred entries’’, including many who forked out for last year’s cancelled run, who each received a 20% discount on their entry fee.

‘‘I would love to give people free entry but the cost of putting this thing on is enormous.’’

Among those lining up are the world’s number one female ultrarunner Courtney Dauwalter from Colorado, and Dunedin-based champion trail runner Anna Frost.

The programme of events has been extended to include film nights and talks in Arrowtown hosted by Dauwalter on December 6 and Frost on December 7.

There’ll also be opportunities for runners to take part in wilding pine control with local conservation group Arrowtown Choppers in the lead-up to the races.

Following last year’s cancellation, about 250 people, with flights and accommodation already booked, went to Arrowtown anyway to get together and ‘‘do a bunch of trail runs’’.

‘‘It was a hell of a lot of fun,’’ Law says.

‘‘Arrowtown’s such a great destination, people were there for several days, it gave us the idea of extending the event to more than just the runs.

‘‘We’ve turned it into a full-on festival.’’

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