New Zealand trail running has taken another leap towards the peaks, with the creation of the New Zealand Mountain Running Series (NZMRS), in association with Hammer Nutrition.
The inaugural three-race series will be based in the Hawkes Bay, taking in the Genesis Energy Lake Waikaremoana Challenge, the Hammer Nutrition Kaweka Mountain Marathon, and the Triple Peaks Challenge.
Looking ahead, the goal is very much to add races further afield.
“We want the series to grow into an epic adventure that takes in some of this country’s finest and most challenging tracks, including in the South Island,” says Chris Joblin, organizer of the Lake Waikaremoana Challenge.
“New Zealand has so much great running and walking terrain. We want to do all we can to encourage athletes of all levels to go to places they might not ordinarily go to,” Joblin adds.
Series one NZMRS trophies (overall and age-group winners) plus finisher’s medals will be awarded to those who complete at least two of the longer distance options of the three events, up to 55km each.
Ruby Muir, reigning women’s champ at Kaweka, thinks “the races will work well as a trio, as each is very different from the other. All offer a very different running experience making it almost a tour.”
“I love the harsh ridge lines in the Kawekas. The landscape is very unique and uncompromising. Living in Hawkes Bay I do a lot of missions out to the Kawekas. I love it because the tracks aren't glammed up.”
“I’ve never done any races around Waikaremoana [but] I love the rich native bush there. Although it's a Great Walk, the track has not yet been made into a highway which is nice,” says the accomplished Vibram Five Fingers runner.
The series is a great idea, reckons Shaun Thompson-Gray, a Napier ultra runner, father, and director of Architecture HDT Hawkes Bay. He’s previously tackled both the Triple Peaks and the Kaweka and is “absolutely loving the fact that the NZMRS is starting in the Hawkes Bay”.
“I started considering ultra’s when I read that the majority walk at least part of the way. I now know why — but love it anyway,” he says. (The day we corresponded, his training run kicked off in the 4am dark.)
Recreational Napier runner Laura Manning, a student and fitness consultant, comments “it's really encouraging to be involved in all events and be recognized for it”.
“The Kaweka run was one of the bravest things I have done. It really helped that there were three other girls, so we all encouraged and motivated each other, and made a day of it. It was really inspiring how nice everyone else was on the course too.”
First up in the NZMRS is the Waikaremoana Challenge run, which is held in conjunction with the major multisport event. Chris Joblin has added two new run distances to match the other NZMRS events, so Waikaremoana runners can now choose 20km, a 55km two-person relay, or a 55km solo, edging the spectacular lake.
Waikaremoana is truly stunning wilderness terrain, with well-formed tracks, so for any runner who’s keen to step just that bit out of the comfort zone, it’s an excellent goal for the start of summer.
Entries are open for all the events. There’s no extra charge to run in the series, and a very desirable finisher’s medal indeed.
New Zealand Mountain Running Series 2013/14:
· Lake Waikeremoana Challenge, 16 November 2013
· Kaweka Mountain Marathon, 1 February 2014
· Triple Peaks Challenge, 15 March 2014.
Enter now at http://nzmountainrunning.co.nz