Northburn 100 2013, By Marty Lukes

2 years after winning the inaugural Northburn100, Marty Lukes returned to central Otago for another crack at the NB100, set on bettering his winning time from 2011. The result was a slick 22hr09mins. Below are Marty’s through’s on what is recognised to be one of the toughest 100mile foot races around.

Located in Central Otago, the Northburn Station is a quintessential high country farm perched on the eastern shores of Lake Dunstan. It is only a few minutes drive from the small township of Cromwell and not too far from the larger centres of Wanaka and Queenstown. In fact its location makes it a straightforward trip from Dunedin and Christchurch for those travelling from further afield.

A few years ago local landowners and local enthusiasts had a brainwave: why not create and host New Zealand’s first 100 Mile Off Road Race. An event popular and common in North America and also replicated in various forms throughout the world’s ultra running communities.

With this goal in mind, and enlisting the marketing power of renowned ultra-runner New Zealander Lisa Tamati, the Northburn 100 Mile was born for 2011.

Marty Lukes just after finishing. Photo MattB

Marty Lukes just after finishing. Photo MattB

The course is brutal. Viewed from the lakeside the Northburn’s lower hillsides seem benign. However lurking higher are seemingly never ending tussock slopes heading straight up onto the barren but highly scenic plateau like alpine tops at 1700 m. The course climbs repeatedly from lake shore to the oxygen depleted tops; 8000 m vertical over the 100 miles.

Three years after the first event the course loops were rearranged, a strong nor-wester booked and an equally strong turn out of endurance enthusiasts wanting to challenge themselves on a demanding course.

Over the race weekend many stories of courage and determination showed the loyal supporters and marvellous volunteers something about the spirit that drives us to enter and complete challenges that to a rational mind make no sense. To our increasingly sedentary communities, extensive time on our feet must seem alien but the satisfaction gained from striving on foot touches a human element that is only half discovered in marathon distance events.

The Northburn is a true mountain ultra and not for the faint hearted. However with decent preparation and a good dose of good luck it is an achievable challenge for any keen runner, tramper or outdoor enthusiast. Next year the race is scheduled for March once again so enter soon for a truly memorable weekend in a wonderful part of New Zealand.

NB100 Results

Otago Daliy Times Story

Womanen’s 100mile winner Shona Stepheson’s Race Report

Northburn photo galley from Lyndon Marceau


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