Ultra run looks likely

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300km race along trail would finish in Oamaru

Oamaru is set to be the finish point of New Zealand’s first staged ultra run, scheduled to be held in early 2018. Mike Sandri, of Oamaru, is the driving force behind the Alps 2 Ocean Ultra Staged Run, which will involve competitors running the length of the 300km cycle trail which extends from Aoraki Mt Cook to Oamaru. Plans are in place for the race to start on February 23, 2018. Competitors will arrive two days before that for registrations, a social gathering and the trip to the base of the mountain. The race is scheduled to finish at Oamaru Harbour on March 3. Sandri said the format would be similar to that of the Canyon to Canyon Ultra, a self­ supported foot race covering about 280km over six gruelling days in testing conditions, which Sandri tackled in the United States in late September. Three race options are available for competitors: supported, self­ supported and team. Self­ supported runners will have to carry their own food, sleeping mat, sleeping bag and other compulsory items for the entire seven days, while supported runners will have their food and bedding carried for them to the end of each stage. They will still have to carry all compulsory gear and food for that day.  Each team will comprise up to four runners, and each member will carry the same as an individual.
Team members must stay within 50m of each other for the entire stage, and all team members must run all stages. Day one will feature a 60km run broken into two stages, day two will cover 45km, day three and four 85km to 90km in total, day five and six 45km each, and day seven 25km. Checkpoints will be set up every 10km to 15km, offering water and electrolytes. Sandri said with so many people telling him they wanted to complete an ultra event in New Zealand— which does not have one— while he ran the Canyon to Canyon, he was inspired to make it happen. ‘‘Oamaru is the perfect place with the Alps 2 Ocean and the community we’ve got. We could pull it off and make it abig event. ‘‘People were all so positive, soI thoughta bit more about it . . . it’s been pretty overwhelming, the support and people that are keen to do it. ‘‘The first thing we need to do is get the costing right. We need to make sure it’s value for money and they geta world­class experience when they come here.’’ Funds raised from the event would be put back into maintenance of the trail. Sandri is in the process of developing a website for the event, while a Facebook page has been set up and has already gathered strong support. ‘‘At the moment, there are 130 people that are really interested and 20 definitely want to do it. Going from what people are saying, the interest has been pretty amazing.’’ All that was required was a few tweaks to the route to make the run more ofa challenge.  ‘‘I think it needs to be tailored to make it a little bit harder. The distance is there but we need to put some fairly grunty hills in there to test them out and give them some good views and that kind of thing.’’ While it was a long way away, Sandri was confident he had the support he needed, which included that of Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher, to eventually make it an annual event. ‘‘I’m pretty confident it will happen. If we get the numbers, we will make it happen. I think it will be great for the community.’’