7 March 2019


Arrowtown hosts the 15th anniversary edition of Macpac Motatapu this weekend, with the event moving to a two-day multi-sport celebration for the first time in its storied history, with close to 4,000 competitors expected to line up in the six events on offer across the weekend.

From Glendhu Bay through the Motatapu Valley and into Arrowtown, the Macpac Motatapu has the Ultra Run, XTERRA Triathlon, Mountain Bike and Ebike categories on the Saturday, with Sunday set aside as an exclusive running/trail walking day, featuring the Off-Road Marathon, Miners Train and Sawpit Trail, with all events finishing at Wilcox Green in Arrowtown.

While almost all events are about participation with a great cross-section of New Zealanders and international visitors signed up across the six events (with 22 countries represented), there are a number of headline athletes set to grab their share of attention.

Lucy Bartholomew is the star attraction in the 51km Ultra Run, the 22-year-old Australian sensation makes a third appearance at Macpac Motatapu, following up on her record-breaking win in 2017 and runner-up finish behind Ruth Croft last year and with Croft setting another new fastest time, Bartholomew will have added motivation to race well.

“I love that Motatapu brings together people from different sports, different distances and different places of the world. It’s super cool for this year that it will be split over two days so I can watch, admire and cheer the others on Sunday, even with my tired legs!

“My race plan is to survive haha! It’s been a while since I ran in a race and I just want to draw confidence in moving for that amount of time and in this terrain. I certainly can’t say my training has been specific, but I can say that I am most excited to see how it feels to do something different. I want to finish smiling.

“I remember the river section ha-ha! I have taken the low route and the high route now and it’s always fun to change it up, but I remember the water being blissfully cold and it going on forever!”

The 47km Mountain Bike event also takes place on Saturday morning and features one of New Zealand’s very best in 28-year-old Samara Sheppard. The former Clyde rider has spent much of her time-based in Australia of late and rode for New Zealand at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“The Motatapu mountain bike event has been a long-time feature of the New Zealand Calendar. I have heard many good things about the event and look forward to taking part in the 2019 edition.

“The open nature of the course excites me, as it will provide an opportunity to work with a group and form small bunches of participants, often of different age and gender but similar fitness and skills, this is very different to cross country events that I often focus on.

“The point to point course from Glendhu Bay to Arrowtown also makes it more of an adventure, due to starting and finish being in different locations,” said Sheppard.

Multiple champion Kate Fluker is riding in the team event with regular endurance race riding partner Mark Williams, leaving the door very much open for a new champion in the women’s individual.

Kris Rush will be one to watch in the men’s Mountain Bike in what is otherwise a very even field, the Oamaru rider overcomes some early issues at the 2018 Pioneer to finish top 30 overall with Nigel Douglas (also riding this weekend) and knows the Motatapu Valley course well.

Other notables in the field include former New Zealand cross country rider Tim Madgwick and well performed 40-49 age group rider Nathon Wright, who was fifth in 2017 and finished third in the master’s division at the 2018 Pioneer.

The XTERRA Triathlon is wide open in both men’s and women’s events, with the absence of previous winners such as Dougal Allan, Braden Currie and Josie Wilcox, the New Zealand titles on the line. Added to the interest in the XTERRA race is the lure of pro sports and a limited number of age group qualifying spots to the World Championship race in Hawaii, later in 2019. Full details are on the event website.


The event attracts athletes from all walks of life though and amongst those returning are a select number who have taken part in all 14 previous editions and will add number 15 to their CV’s this weekend.

Brent Gardyne (Dunedin) is one of seven to have competed in all 14 previous events and recalls the decision to enter the very first all those years ago.

“I remember doing an old race in the opposite direction once before, but just the chance to take part in an event like this in such iconic New Zealand countryside that you otherwise can’t ride through, it was an easy decision really. I was doing the odd mountain bike race and multi-sport event at the time, dabbling in a few events, for me it has always been about getting out and doing it with your mates, I think that is what most do it for. There are a bunch of riders out the front, but most are like me, challenging themselves.”

Macpac Motatapu 15-year entrants (including this year)

Brent Gardyne, Dunedin; John Fry, Invercargill; Craig McCallum, Christchurch; Dallas McLister, Arrowtown; Richard Russell, Invercargill; Jeremy Shearer, Dunedin; Ross Turner, Christchurch, Tim Miller, Nelson.

Looking for Legends

The event also recognizes ‘Legends’ in each event, with the oldest participant in each event awarded a Legend Trophy. Further to that, the overall oldest competitor in the Miners Trail is awarded the Max McDermid Memorial Trophy, and at the time of going to print, this honour will fall to 86-year-old John Falconer form Gore.

The Max McDermid Memorial Trophy represents the wide range of ages that compete in the Motatapu with the Pounamu signifying the history of the land traversed by the event. The base of the trophy is made from native New Zealand Rimu and Pounamu was sourced from Olderog Creek near the Arahura River on the West Coast of the South Island.

Queenstown Trails Trust Benefits

A portion of each entry fee for every event at Macpac Motatapu goes directly to supporting the Queenstown Trails Trust and the continued development and upkeep of the trails throughout the Wakatipu Basin. Athletes also have the option of making a further donation at the time of entry.

2019 Macpac Motatapu By the Numbers


  • Average age: 43
  • Gender split: 60% Male 40% Female
  • Oldest Competitor: John Falconer, Gore, Miners Trail

Regional representation from a region

  • Canterbury 29%
  • Otago region 28%
  • Auckland 9%
  • Southland 8%

Overseas representation

  • 22 Countries
  • Australia the largest contributor with 7% of the field hailing from across the Tasman