2015 Motatapu Adventure Run Race Report

Motatapu Adventure Run race report from Grant Guise-

The 2015 Motatapu Adventure Run was just that- an Adventure! Standing in the dark at Glendhu Bay, in what can only be described as pissing rain, was a stark contrast to the same race a year earlier.

For starters there was my level of fitness, which was lacking a little on a year ago. For the first time the Adventure Run could be done solo, or as the standard 2 person team- I was lining up solo after winning the team’s race last year with Matt Bixley, as was the 4th place finisher at the 2014 Ultra Trail Mt Blanc, American Jason Schlarb! And did I mention the rain?

We started off in a large pack, and I chatted with eventual Team winners Mal and Glenn, before Jason and I went to the front as we left the road and started on the Motatapu Track. It was still dark at this stage, but as the sun attempted to make a showing through the thick rain clouds, we were also running with Paul Timothy and Tim Wright. Jason and I both had stops dealing with wet shoe laces and Tim set the pace for much of the first climb, with Paul on his tail.

The first big descent off Jack Hall Saddle was slick and caution was needed to make it down without a spill. With the extra kilometres early in the race it was hard to know what our pace was like, but despite the rough weather and slick trails we seemed to be making good time.

The 4 of use reached Highland Hut more or less all together, stopping quickly to refull water bottles. Last year I relied on the streams and creeks, but this year these were all a grey muck, fast flowing and not at all desirable. Early on in the 2nd climb I had to again stop, this time to remove the grit and stones that had got in my shoe from the last stream crossing. And that was the last running I did with Jason…..

Less than a minute later I had my shoe back on, but Jason had put the hammer down, dropping Paul, while Tim was going through a low patch. I tried to rally, passing Paul and set about trying to pull Jason in. Even with minimal running over his winter months, Jason is a class act and this was of course all in vein.

Starting up the 3rd climb of the day, which sidles around the impressive Knuckle Peak I was around 90secs down on Jason, with Paul and Tim still in view. Memories of making this climb a year earlier with ease were distant and I could see Jason less and less. A time check at Rose’s Hut had Jason now a good 7-8mins in front and I was able to look back and get a similar time check back to Paul, who like me was starting to fade a little.

Climbing into the cloud towards Rose’s Saddle seemed to go on and on, so it was both a relief and a surprise when I finally reached it. The descent was enjoyable as I was managing to run the downs OK, they are often a strength, but being so wet caution was needed. Reaching the Upper Arrow River it was a bit of a roll of the dice as to what route to take. Normally the river bed is the best and fastest option, but today- it was anyone’s guess.

I jumped in the river, looking for the path of least resistance. Sections were fast, while others were waist deep, freezing water- it was an adventure run alright!

At Mace Town I was only 8-9mins down on Jason, mostly because he started in the river, before climbing out to the high track.

The highlight of my day came as I was running down the Arrow, with about 10km to go in the form of Phil Wood. Phil has raced the Adventure Run a few times, including last year and is one of the nicest guys you could meet. During a race, he is one of the most excited guys you could meet- he yelled loads of encouragement my way and got me fired up to push on as hard as I could.

With 6km to go we merged in with the Mountain Bike and Marathon events. Other than some really cool guy abusing me for running in “his line” I really enjoyed mixing it up with the bikers- passing them on the up and being passed on the downs.

Then suddenly the race was over…….


Jason Schlarb winning the 2015 Motatapu Adventure Run.

With around 2-3km to go, the 4WD road finishes and the race crosses in and out of the Arrow River, which was now reportedly shoulder deep! The race was stopped short and a massive line of hundreds of mountain bikers waited to cross bridges and walk with bikes over the last few km’s on narrow trails.

After 7hrs of being wet and mostly cold I made my way past the line of bikers, along with the female Miners Trail winner, as I was keen to get some dry clothes and warm food. Everyone was really mellow about what was an extremely anti climatic finish. Looking down on the brown, fast flowing Arrow, it was not hard to see why the call had to be made.

We then linked back up to the last 400m of the course, where a thousand or so spectators, unaware the race was stopped 3km’s earlier where waiting. It was confusing to say the least, but still a great experience. I can’t recall ever running so long in a shell jacket before and the weather really added to a wild event and great day in the hills.

adventure run

A little tired…. And happy to be done after a fun day. Photo: Lisa McFarlane.


Jason crossed the “finish” line in 7hr13, while I was around 7hr30. Paul faded on the last climb and Tim powered home to take 3rd. Results are not up with the altered finish, but the extra 2.5km of road at the start pretty much makes up the 2.5km we lost at the end. My time for this was 7hr04- see the #suuntorun movie.

Massive thank you to all the volunteers who were out in the rain on Saturday!

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