World leading Ultra-Runner Lucy Bartholomew has made the late call to race at Macpac Motatapu on March 9, with the 2017 champion immediately assuming favouritsm for the testing 51km trail run from Glendhu Bay to Arrowtown.
Bartholomew almost wasn’t getting on the plane but ultimately couldn’t resist an event that she loves as a start to her year.
“Honestly, Motatapu is always at the back of my mind. For three years I have headed to New Zealand to start my year with a motivating environment to train and begin to prepare for the mountains of Europe. I was late to enter this year with a lot of exciting things going on, but I needed to find a race to put the first bib of 2019 on and I felt a lot of inspiration to join Motatapu again!”
The 22-year-old has eased into 2019 without too much fanfare but is building up her mileage again.
“It’s been a slow start to the year after a strong end to 2018. I finished last year with a first place and course record at the Lantau 70k in Hong Kong, and then a home course win at the GOW 100km. Then I really took some time off (it feels like the first time in many years) and so it’s been back to the building phase!”
Despite the late decision to enter Motatapu, Bartholomew is delighted to have made the call to head back to race at one of her favourite venues and is excited about the new two-day format.
“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!”
Bartholomew is referring to the split events over the two days, with the XTERRA Triathlon, Mountain Bike and Ultra Run events on the Saturday, followed on the Sunday by the Miners Trail, Off Road Marathon and Sawpit Trail runs.
Bartholomew finished second last year to the record-breaking performance of Ruth Croft who in the process wiped out Lucy’s own record from 2017. But given the break and some time away from racing, Bartholomew is making no promises beyond enjoying her third visit to the event.
“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!
“I can’t thank Motatapu enough for putting this event together, showing off the Queenstown area and bringing athletes together. This is my third time running it and I am sure it won’t be my last.”
With third place getter Anna Frost also not racing, the door is open for other challenges with one of the most likely being Rose Pearson (Dunedin) with the 30-year-old looking to improve on her fourth-place finish in 2018.