When Mike Sandri first suggested athletes from round the world might like to run the Alps 2 Ocean cycleway, and would pay well for doing so, some locals were skeptical.
But months of hard work by him and his team paid off and the race starts today:
A first for New Zealand, the ultra endurance race will involve athletes running self-supported on and around the 300km-plus Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail, which extends from Aoraki Mt Cook to Oamaru, over seven stages in seven days.
As it stands, stages one and two (53.85km) on day one have a 14hr cut-off; stage three (51.34km) on day two a 13hr cutoff; stage four (86.6km) on days three and four a 34hr cut-off; stage five (43.76km) on day five a 12hr cut-off; stage six (52.66km) on day six a 13hr cutoff; and stage seven (28.67km) on the final day a 6hr cut-off. Checkpoints will be set up every 10km to 15km, offering water and electrolytes.
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. Its origins go back to September 2016, when Mr Sandri took part in the Canyon to Canyon Ultra, a self-supported foot race covering about 280km over six gruelling days in testing conditions in the United States.
When talking to his fellow competitors, they queried him as to why there was no organised ultra race in New Zealand.
“I thought that was actually a pretty good question,” he said.
Mr Sandri believed the terrain from Aoraki Mt Cook to Oamaru would be perfect for such as race, and when he returned from the Canyon to Canyon event, he set his idea in motion.
More than a year later, everything is set to go.
The 126 athletes who will compete hail from 15 countries with a split of about 50-50 between males and females.
Just under half of the field is made up of athletes from New Zealand. . .
The Alps 2 Ocean Ultra website says:
From the base of New Zealand’s Highest mountain, Mount Cook, to the small, historic town of Oamaru, perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, this rugged 316km race passes by eight lakes, takes in valleys, rivers and diverse terrain. It is set to challenge the hardiest athlete, yet allow virgin ultra-athletes to test their mettle.
Run by an enthusiastic, committed team of tireless volunteers, backed by a generous range of sponsors, all proceeds from Alps 2 Ocean are heading right back into the community and the uptake of registrations means that a difference will be made. The event answers the question about why our country has not yet hosted an ultra-staged race, and the uptake of entries shows the need there was for it.
1. To bring people to Godzone and showcase our amazing country. Check. √
2. To host an inclusive race – catering for the elite athlete to the bucket lister. Check √
3. To contribute any profits to the community, with a focus on youth. We’ll make this transparent via our social media channels.
I am in awe of anyone who is fit enough to run 316 kilometres and equally in awe of Sandri who had the vision for the race and the work down by him, his team of volunteers and the sponsors who have made it happen.
(P.S. – if you click on the website link you’ll see some of the beautiful countryside through which the race will go).