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May 2013 Issue
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Flour Pawsey on the descent to Field Hut and the shelter of the bush line. Photo: Fraser Crichton

The Tararua Mountain Race is considered by mountain runners as one of New Zealand’s hardest trail runs. The event goes from Kaitoke to Otaki Forks across the inhospitable tops of the Southern Crossing. It’s 35km long and ascends 2500m.

It has a special place in the hearts of world-class runners like Dan Clendon, Fleur Pawsey and James Coubrough. That’s not just because it’s such a challenging adventure. It’s a non-profit making event run by a trust where all profits go to Wellington Search and Rescue (SAR). When it was cancelled in February 2011 because the LandSAR support team were helping out in the Christchurch earthquake, top competitors like Fleur Pawsey refused a refund of their entry fee. Race director, Mike Sheridan, says that the event started as a ‘group of mates’ called the Wellington Ridge Runners who just wanted to run in the hills. Over the years, the race may have changed, but the sense of community remains.

– Fraser Crichton