Mt Oxford Odyssey

Marty Lukes gives us his thoughts on the first ever Ultimate Direction Mt Oxford Odyssey, that took place on 1st February. 

oxford start2

Start of the Mt Oxford Odyssey.

With the encouraging growth in New Zealand’s off road trail running ultra scene it is really great to see a new event on the calendar in Canterbury. Designed for locals and those keen to travel, this event genuinely captures the essence of adventure while the 19.5 km distance makes it easier to achieve for those who are new to the sport.

Located on the edge of the Canterbury Plains, the circuit up over and around Mt Oxford is a genuine challenge as the track negotiates a brutal uphill, exposed alpine rock, overgrown tussocks, steep technical downhill and tight beech forest single-track. Although still in beech forest, the last quarter opens out onto some trail which is smooth and fast.  As a shorter event it is also easier to recover from so it can easily fit into a schedule of racing.

Marty on the top of Mt Oxford.

Marty on the top of Mt Oxford.

It would be great to see the inaugural 2014 event build and in 2015 see more locals and new competitors give it a go. Specific training is definitely wise as it takes experience to feel confident moving smoothly over treacherous terrain. Knowing when to walk is a key skill as running is often inefficient on steep gradients. It is often easier to take fast steps using high knees to get over technical terrain which is a different technique to road running. Knowing and trusting shoe grip and foot placement is handy going downhill.

It would be wonderful to see the event build with perhaps an annual mountain running series on the classic North Canterbury foothills of Grey, Thomas and Richardson. Whether Canterbury has the capacity to sustain that though is debatable but dreams are free. Maybe all four mountains can be linked into one epic event instead… but that would be another story altogether! In the meantime its just great to see a short trail adventure out there and to hear the race organisers enthusiasm for their excellent event. Book it in for January 2015.

Scenic Sports Mt Oxford Odyssey website.

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