Ultimate Queenstown

Motatapu 2014

Motatapu 2014

Posted by Dave Fahey: 9th Mar 2014 @ 22:00:07

Motatapu held its inaugural event in 2005, offering mountain bike and marathon options which attracted 1000 competitors. Now the event has swelled to a field of over 4000 entrants competing over 5 separate events. The word Motatapu comes from the river traversed by the athletes, Mota (river) Tapu (sacred), named by the early Maori, who journeyed through the valley as access to food and Pounamu (greenstone) gathering grounds.

I think it's safe to say that while 5 events now exist the flagship event with the biggest field is the Speights Summit Mountain bike attracting around 3000 of the competitors. The great thing about the Motatapu is the field of competitors it attracts, and I use the term competitors loosely, and not in a bad way. Standing at the start area in Glendu bay you look around and see people from all walks of life and each with their own story. While the lycra clad athlete paces nervously with podium and time goals in mind, two friends let out a jovial laugh with the only goal in mind completion, followed very closely by a can of the sponsors product.

This is where full credit has to go out to the organisers. Iconic events were responsible for creating an epic event capable of attracting a field of first timers and world renowned athletes, and providing a course that is entertaining and challenging for all - no mean feat. Now days Wakatipu Trails Trust are entrusted with carrying on its legacy after purchasing the event in 2013 as an income stream to help fund the upkeep and ongoing development of the Wakatipu Trail network.

For those who don't know the course starts in Glendu bay just outside of Wanaka and winds its way through Motatapu Station parallel to the creek which shares its name. The 47km course starts off along wide open gravel roads which allow time and space to separate the casual entrants from the serious. As with all events held in the alpine setting of the Southern Lakes, hill climbs are inevitable, and the Motatapu is no exception. The great thing is that the majority of the climbing is put behind you and your tired legs early as the course makes way to the beautifully rolling high country landscape. As you near the finish line near Arrowtown you're reminded that what goes up must come down as you hurtle your way down the break burning Soho decent. Just when the legs are ready to throw in the towel riders must negotiate a series of glacial feeling river crossings as you criss-cross the gold bearing Arrow River on your approach to the welcomed finish line at Butlers Green, Arrowtown.

As I stood on the finish line this year, camera in hand, cheering on friends and deserving competitors I couldn't help feeling a shallow sinking in my stomach. FOMO (fear of missing out) had kicked in, and the painful reality had kicked in that 2015 was more than likely going to see me once again lined up with the other competitors with a goal of both beating previous times, but also just completing the course and downing a beer. So next year's blog will no doubt be written with heavy legs and from the perspective of someone with an epic sense of completion.

See you at the start line.

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