Over seven stages in seven days, more than 100 runners from 16 countries poured their sweat into the Waitaki Valley.
In February and March, runners pounded over 316km in the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail in New Zealand’s first staged ultra race.
As runners crossed the finish line of the inaugural event in March, race director Mike Sandri said the race was “better than I ever thought it could be”.
But now, his vision for the race has truly begun to bear the fruit he always believed it would.
The company behind Alps 2 Ocean Ultra has created the Alps 2 Ocean Ultra Community Trust, and transferred the profits from the race to be distributed to the community, especially youth.
In its first year alone, the race generated $271,727 for the trust.
“It’s pretty substantial,” Mr Sandri said. “It blows me away, really.”
When Mr Sandri was asked why New Zealand did not have a staged ultra race, he said, he thought Oamaru would be the “perfect spot” to stage it, starting at New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki Mt Cook.
And so, he said, he started it for three reasons: to attract runners from “all around the world” to New Zealand, to showcase Oamaru, and to raise funds to go back to the community with a focus on youth.
He received strong support from local businesses and 30 volunteers who “gave up a week of their lives”.
One hundred and thirty-five runners registered and paid the $2000 entry fee for the race’s first iteration, including 83 from overseas.
The February 2019 version of the race had already received “overwhelming support” and was at capacity, Mr Sandri said.