No sooner has Tarawera finished, do we have another race from across the ditch to look forward to, The Northburn 100. This event started up last year with NZ favourite Lisa Tamati putting her name to help the efforts of the local team in Otago, led by Terry Davis, and the rather excellent guys at Northburn Station where the wine tastes pretty good I can tell you!
I raced this (or rather walked quite a bit of it) last year and thoroughly enjoyed myself in the mountains. I’m pretty gutted not to be there this year, but the arrival of two little girls and some parents over from the UK at the moment has meant that family has to come first – but I aim to be there next year for sure. This place holds special memories for me personally being the venue where I completed the 100 mile distance for the first time. If you’re thinking of going next year, do it. You’ll love it.
The course starts in the grounds of Northburn Station and the views all around are simply stunning as you overlook Lake Dunstan in Cromwell. This is a true mountain race where you can be exposed to the elements at any stage – as I found out on the last 15kms on the trek downhill last year. The 100 milers will take in three loops, the 100kms two loops and the sprinters doing the 50km, just the one loop.
The name of the game for this race is up and down. I remember on the second loop climbing uphill for five hours… five freaking hours, but loving every minute of it. On the third and final loop last year was the loop of despair, and bugger of a 700m drop down into the valley, before a gut wrenching 700m climb again – all in the space of just 11kms. When you’ve completed Northburn, you’ve certainly earnt your medal for the 8,000m of climbing that you have to do.
We caught up with Terry a few days ago to get his thoughts on the race, which starts on Saturday:
“To be honest, at the moment I’m just quietly ‘packing himself’! And it’s not because there is some pretty serious weather forecast. The forecast could easily change and not be that bad. Or if it is bad then my favourite adage ‘the worse the weather the greater the adventure’ come into play.
“No, I’m just a little bit nervous about the quality of participants racing and ‘hanging out’ for the weekend. The ‘rock stars’ of ultra and trail running are turning up with all the associated media, blogs and Facebook fan pages to report on how it all goes! The following names are just a ‘smattering’ of those turning up: Ray Sanchez and Molly Sheridan legendary US Ultra runners, Team Salomon including local Otago golden girl Anna Frost, Grant Guise and new Aussie team member Mick Donges (apparently he just won some wee race north of here somewhere??). Of course Lisa Tamati will be here (it’s her race!) and her good mate, Melbourne hottie Samantha Gash. Then there’s Matt Bixley and Gordy Kirkbank-Ellis – OK, these guys aren’t rock stars but one’s a hell of a nice guy and the other writes a good blog!
“This year we will have a large Marquee set up as race central at the start/finish area and support crews of the participants will be able to set up camp nearby creating a great ‘tent city’ and supportive atmosphere for the weekend.”
Terry has managed to virtually double the size of the field this year, which is great news for ultra-running in NZ, and also great to see two races getting such recognition too, both here in Australia but also hitting the headlines overseas and encouraging some top guys to come over from the States also. Let’s hope this continues for next year, and yours truly certainly aims to get back there and who knows, maybe even have a crack at the double.