Tararua Mountain Race 2019
The race traverses the Southern Crossing tramping route from Kaitoke to Otaki Forks, transforming this three-day hard tramp into a one-day trail run of epic proportions.
The 35km event is defined by the weather conditions. The Tararua Mountain Range is a notoriously changeable environment, with high winds and low cloud being common for a ten km section of the race when above the bush line. Extreme care is required.
Participants start the Southern Crossing in waves, depending on their estimated finish time, those aiming for a faster time start later in the morning.
In distance, the track is 35.4km and the total ascent is 2,250m. The total descent is 2,475m.
The first part of the race, 16.43km to Alpha Hut, is the hardest, both physically and mentally. Initially, the climb from Kaitoke is of moderate steepness and, if it hasn't rained too much, is reasonably good underfoot, although it tends to be a bit "clayey". There is a short flattish section after about 6km that opens out for some great views, but after that you plunge back into the trees where there is deep mud, tree roots, steep ascents and the interminable Marchant Ridge, before you reach Alpha Hut, just at the break of the tree line.
From the check point at Alpha Hut the route is above the bush line and traverses various peaks and knobs to the highest and most exposed point at Mt Hector (1529m). After one more climb over Field peak you reach Kime Hut, a total of 8.2km from Alpha Hut. From there it is a long and steep descent, of 10.8km, to the finish at Otaki Forks.
The descent involves initially a rocky track above the tree line which, once entering the bush at Field Hut, transforms into a mix of tree-roots and mud or slippery clay. There are some good sections along here and it is all able to be run.
The finish at Otaki Forks, on the grassy flats of the Waiotauru River, is reached after a short grass covered plateau followed by crossing the river over the newly constructed foot bridge.