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New Zealand Olympic cycling gold medallist Sarah Ulmer is the latest athlete confirmed for the Motatapu Icebreaker Off-Road Marathon to be held March 8 in Queenstown and Wanaka.
With just two weeks to go until entries close, 37-year-old Ulmer said she entered the iconic race “as an excuse to come to paradise” and the chance to win “a fantastic $10,000 prize pack”.
Speaking on a recent visit to Queenstown to check out the latest developments on the Queenstown Trails – the Trails Trust is the new owner of the Motatapu - Ulmer said she always loved coming to the resort town.
“The Motatapu is such a special event. It’s so unique because you can only access the amazing scenery and course just one day a year.”
This will be Ulmer’s third time competing in the race, as she previously entered the marathon and the Arrowtown.com 15km Miners Trail.
“I encourage anyone thinking about entering to just do it. Enter, then enjoy and embrace it. This is a once a year – and for some - a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she said.
“It’s a great race and a cool experience just being surrounded by like-minded people for a day - smelling, hearing and absorbing all the things around you on the day.”
“It also doesn’t hurt that anyone who enters the event automatically goes in the draw to win a huge prize pack of goodies including a Scott Spark 720 bike. Nice, I’d be happy to win that.”
The 10 year anniversary prize pack winner will be announced on February 13 after entries close. The prize includes; a Scott Spark 720 bike, Giro helmet, Topeak pack and tools, Smith sunglasses, Icebreaker Tech T and Socks, an Osprey hydration pack, Marmot jacket, two nights at the Hilton Queenstown, a Jet boat trip with KJet, a 15,000ft Skydive with NZONE and to top it all off a VW to drive around in for a week.
Queenstown Trails Trust CEO Mandy Kennedy said attracting someone of Sarah’s calibre is testimony to the profile the race has gained over the past decade.
“This is our tenth year and it’s shaping up to have a fantastic array of elite athletes, return competitors and first timers who have set the race as a personal “bucket list” must do,” she said.
“Having Sarah compete is just wonderful. She’s a perfect example of someone entering to enjoy the race and embrace the event, using it as an opportunity to grab some friends, immerse yourself in the fantastic Motatapu scenery and experience Queenstown with all it has to offer.
“It’s still not too late to enter and entries for all categories close February 12 2014, bar the mountain bike which closed in record time last year.”
Ms Ulmer said she hadn’t trained specifically for the event but had some personal tips for fellow competitors.
“I certainly would do some off-road training beforehand, train with a camel pak so you know what that feels like and get yourself into some rivers. I loved the river crossings, they were awesome, they keep you cool,” she said.
“I’d encourage some wine training too, you know for when the race is over and you can enjoy that well deserved glass of something local.
“I’m certainly not in it to win it and haven’t set myself a finish time. I’ll be chatting to people on the way, providing encouragement and enjoying the day.”
Entries for the Speight’s Summit Mountain Bike category closed in record time but there is still availability for the Icebreaker Off-Road Marathon, Arrowtown.com 15km Miners Trail, and XTERRA UDC Finance Triathlon events.
Entries can be completed online at http://www.motatapu.org.nz/ and strictly close on February 12 2014.
About the Motatapu
The inaugural Motatapu was first held in 2005, offering a mountain bike or marathon option, and attracted 1,000 participants. Now over 3,700 people take part in five different events, all held on the same day. Event options are the Speight’s Summit Mountain Bike, Icebreaker off-road marathon, Arrowtown.com 15km Miner’s Trail, XTERRA UDC Finance Triathlon and R&R Sport 49km 2-Person Adventure.
This year, the Motatapu celebrates 10 successful years, and is widely regarded as one of the best multi-sport events in New Zealand, if not Australasia. Every year competitors from all corners of the world compete in the event from world-class athletes to first timers who train specifically for the event.
Motatapu has a reputation as being “the bucket list race” situated amid some of the most stunning scenery in the world. All nett profits go to the Queenstown Trails Trust.
For details of the course routes visit www.motatapu.org.nz
About Sarah Ulmer
Sarah Ulmer, 37, became the first New Zealander to win an Olympic cycling gold when she was victorious in the women’s individual pursuit in Athens in 2004. She is the daughter of a New Zealand champion road cyclist of the 1950s, Gary, whose father Ron competed in track cycling at the Empire Games in Sydney in 1938.
As an 18-year-old, Ulmer won the pursuit and points race at the junior world championships in Ecuador and was second in the pursuit at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada. She won the pursuit gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in 1998 and 2002.
Ulmer was seventh in the pursuit at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996 and fourth in Sydney in 2000 when an abdominal complaint hampered her preparation.
On 27 March 2004 she set a world record of 3m 30.604s when qualifying for the pursuit at the world championships in Melbourne. Ulmer went to the Athens 2004 Olympics 3000m pursuit and broke the world record in qualifying with 3m 26.4s.
She took almost two seconds off that time with 3m 24.537s to win the gold and set a world record. While training in Europe, Ulmer had broken the world record more than once, but this was not made public to reduce pressure from the media.
In the 2005 New Year Honours, Ulmer was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to cycling.
She announced her retirement from cycling on 24 November 2007 but attended the 2008 Olympics as a mentor.