By PHILIP CHANDLER
An annual high country run behind Queenstown is introducing a gruelling ultra run as it celebrates its 10th anniversary this tomorrow.
Shotover Moonlight Mountain Marathon, on Ben Lomond Station, is adding the 56km ‘Moonlight Ultra’ to its 10km, half marathon, 30km and marathon events.
Ben Lomond farmer/co-race director Hamish Foster says the idea for the ultra, which starts and finishes at Moke Lake, arose because it was getting harder to transport all the 30km and marathon competitors into Skippers Canyon.
Last year, 17 buses and three choppers took in about 400 competitors.
Having the ultra means ‘‘we wouldn’t be restricted by our transport limitations — and we had plenty more awesome trails to use’’.
This year’s field of 500 — including 80 for the ultra and 160 for the marathon — is about 100 below last year’s due to border closures.
About 40% of the field has been international, Foster says.
‘‘It’s definitely hurt us, but we’ve picked up a few Kiwis which is pretty cool.’’
Two ultrarunners, Queenstown’s James Harcombe and Wanaka’s Mal Law, are competing
for the 10th time.