Raring to do the Routeburn

Jack Beaumont was the 2017 Routeburn Classic top male and record-breaker with a time of two hours 37 minutes 51 seconds. PHOTO: Photos4sale.co.nz

One of Southland's staple adventure runs is being held at the end of the month with participants getting to enjoy the beauty of a New Zealand National Park.

The Routeburn Classic, first held in 2001, is being run over the world-famous Routeburn Track, with competitors running 32km and climbing 1127m above sea level. The annual event takes in the changing terrain of the track from lush native bush to an exposed alpine environment.

Race director Evan McWhirter said when they first started out, trail running was more of a subculture, with people preferring road running at the time.

"Nobody really did it... now it's the cool thing to do," he said.

"What New Zealand has are gorgeous national parks, that's definitely helped with the growth of the sport."

Mr McWhirter said they were thankful to have long-term concessions with the Department of Conservation allowing them to go over the track each year.

"I like to think we do things a bit differently. I think that track speaks for itself. We just have a lot of fun with it."

The event was one many athletes put on their calendars, and a real community atmosphere had been built over the years, he said.

"In the beginning we operated on 225, then we went out to 350."

The Classic usually had a 50-50 split of men and women taking on the course, with 90% of those being weekend warriors, he said.

The beauty of the track is the epitome of what sells New Zealand to the rest of the world.

"Gorgeous, it's absolutely beautiful. It's like running through a postcard."

However, in terms of terrain the participants will be taking on aggressive hill climbs, rocks, tree roots and streams.

"It's a challenging run... you're really out there in the elements."

Mr McWhirter said if anyone was interested in adventure racing, this was the event to complete.

"If your thing is running, and you like adventure and have an attitude of play and enjoy fun things, that's what this experience is."

A big function will be held after the event at Queenstown Memorial Hall to celebrate everyone's achievements and continue to build the community atmosphere.

The Routeburn Classic is being held on Saturday, April 28. For further information visit  https://goodtimesevents.net/events/routeburn/


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