From a dream to a reality
It is so great to have Rhiannon join us for our very first Alps2Ocean Ultra read Rhiannon story
It was great catching up with Allan Dick today who did a story on our race Allan has a Facebook Page called "Oamaru Today" which covers a lot of what is going on around this Little Town of ours
Page Liked · July 28 ·
MAJOR INTERNATIONAL ULTRATHON FOR THE DISTRICT
February 20th next year, 135 international long distance runners will start on a grueling seven-day race from Mount Cook to the Oamaru Harbour in the “Back Country Cuisine A2O Ultrathon”.
The idea is the brainchild of ultra distance enthusiast Mike Sandri of Millennium Joinery in Oamaru.
“I was in the USA last year taking part in the seven-day West Rim race in the Grand Canyon and thought ‘why can’t we have something like this back home?’”
Back home he and running mate John Crombie (of Crombie and Price)got together and decided that they could do something here and put together the plan for the event.
“We brought Linton Clarke in board and with Adair Craig also helping we knuckled down and got started on organising it,” says John Crombie. “It’s been a massive undertaking.”
“We figured that using the basic A2O trail would be the basis for the race and our first step was to approach mayor Gary Kircher to see if it was all OK with the Council. Then we created a Facebook page to judge what sort of interest there’d be. The interest was overwhelming, so we next created a website and called for entries.
“ Within five working days we had gone global and reached our target of 100 entries. But such was the demand we accepted another 20 and then another 15, so we now have 135 entries from 13 countries.
“Of those, 83 are international, including 25 from the UK which is phenomenal considering they have to come the farthest. “The remaining 52 come from New Zealand,” says John.
“The average age is 47, the youngest is 18, the oldest is 67 and over 50% are female. Most are professional people and each has paid an entry fee of $2,000. All profits from the event will be given to local charities.
“When I came back from the US with this idea, “says Mike. ”I had two aims in mind — to organise a world-class event and to do something for local charities. We are well on the way to achieving both of those aims.”
Competitors will carry all of their belongings in their own backpack and each night will see a village of small tents erected for their accommodation.
A team of about 30 volunteers will take care of logistics.
“We’re going to ensure this is a very special event, so there will be a welcome dinner, an end-of-event dinner and a prizegiving. In addition, each day of the race, there will be something very special happening to give the event that ‘WOW!’ factor — I’m not telling you what those things are, “says John with a laugh. “But they will be fantastic.”
“The final day is going to be spectacular,” says Mike. “We will have a staggered start that morning from the rail tunnel on the old Tokorahi line and it’s going to be a sight as they enter Oamaru and run through the Precinct to the finish at the harbour.
“The roads on the last bit will be lined with the public as well as the friends and supporters of the runners.”
While the competitors will be running as individuals, each will be bringing friends and families as supporters, so this event is going to have a major impact on the entire region and put pressure on accommodation at an already busy time of the year — and in the height of summer.
“Yes, it will be hot,” says John. “But that’s going to make it even tougher.”
It’s going to take seven days to complete the 316km route which largely follows the A2O trail ride.
“When we sat down to plot my ideal route we knew we were going to have to take the runners off the trail in several places to avoid major roads. In doing so we had to go through eight properties — of that eight, seven property owners agreed,” says John. “So that’s good.”
One section that will be off the A2O will take the competitors up to the tops of the hills with stunning views right down the Waitaki Valley to the ocean.
The team started off with no money to organise the event and so they went to sponsors to raise the seed finance.
The naming rights sponsor is the Invercargill company Back Country Cuisine which provides pre-packaged, freeze-dried meals — a company owned by Brent and Cara Crossan who are now back in their home town of Oamaru and own The Galley café.
Other sponsors are L.J. Hooker, Laser Plumbing, Network Waitaki, Anchor Milk Otago, North Otago Motor Group, Placemakers, Crombie and Price, Portside and the Oamaru Licensing Trust.
This sort of high pressure, ultra tough event is not for everyone, but it is a sport that has attracted a growing and passionate group, of athletes who get huge pleasure from pushing themselves to the limit, both physically and mentally.
And this event is to become an annual one.
“We’ve already had more than a hundred enquiries for the 2019 event,” says Mike with a satisfied grin.
Well done and all the best for a huge event.
PHOTO — MIKE SANDRI (Left) and JOHN CROMBIE (right)
The story on the A2O Utrathon that was posted on Friday afternoon has gone ballistic. Off this page alone it's had dozens of shares and over 15,000 looks. I also posted it today on my personal page which gets to totally different and more national and international audience and it's also attracting a huge amount of interest.
The guys have obviously got a major success story on their hands. Brilliant.