This a guide to the elite obstacle races in New Zealand in 2016. Whether you consider yourself an elite racer, or want to read about where the sport is at in NZ, this guide will cover the races currently with competitive divisions separate from their open divisions. If you’re unfamiliar with obstacle course racing (OCR), I’d like to first direct you to Wikipedia for a quick intro to the sport.
While NZ, being a small country, has no regular series of competitive races such as Spartan Race or no competitive OCR League like Australia has, 2016 is the first year in which it could be said that a competitive scene has emerged as there are now two races which offer elite divisions. While many obstacle races around NZ time their participants and hold prize givings at the end, these races could be said to be open divisions which allow for people with different motivations to enter – for a challenge, for fun, to lose weight, to bond with friends, for bragging rights, and so on. An issue with only offering open divisions however is that those with the motivation of wanting to compete are then left running in a race alongside others who don’t understand. Separating elite and open divisions (while probably a lot more work for the race organisers) allows for people with different motivations to run the race at separate times. Elite divisions allow for those who want to compete and to push their speed, endurance, agility, strength and grit.
The Wairua Warrior
Organised by the Wairua Warriors Obstacle Racing Club, NZ’s first obstacle course racing club, the Wairua Warrior will be held in Nelson on April 9th 2016. Featuring an elite division this year for the first time, there are separate elite divisions for male and female. Both are open opt-in at registration. The course is 12km and includes obstacles such as rope climbs, barbed wire crawls, sand bag carries, climbing walls and tyre drags. There is $500 worth of vouchers at Smiths Sports Shoes Nelson up for grabs for first place male and first place female.
2015 was the inaugural year of the Wairua Warrior with podium results of:
|Top 3 Finishers – 2015 12km Open||Time|
As this is the first year of an elite division during the race, no previous elite results exist yet.
More info can be found at The Wairua Warrior.
The Moa New Zealand Tough Guy and Gal Championship
New Zealand’s original mud run series organised by Event Promotions, the Tough Guy and Gal Championship is an invitational race held on August 27th 2016 in Rotorua. Entry is attained by qualifying: the top 3 finishers in the open 12km of each regional Loaded Tough Guy and Gal Challenge race are invited to compete in the Championship in Rotorua. I believe there are also special invitations offered to some runners. Males and females race together in the Championships. The course is 12km and includes obstacles such as water crossings, electric wires, hurdles and barbed wire. As far as I’m aware, the prize up for grabs is a Championship trophy.
The Championship has been held for two years, with results below:
|Top 3 Finishers – 2015 Championship||Time|
|Top 3 Finishers – 2014 Championship||Time|
More info can be found at The Moa New Zealand Tough Guy and Gal Championship.
So it appears that the choice of elite races is between NZ’s first OCR Club vs NZ’s first OCR series (or just enter both). Both races are 12km long with finishing times around the 1 hour mark.
Notably, the Wairua Warrior is held in the South Island in April while the Tough Guy and Gal is held in the North Island in August. Will the non-clashing times of the year mean that the same racer will win both races? Or will travel constraints mean a different person will win each race? And then, will the winners be committed obstacle racers or seasoned athletes from other sports? And will the emergence of multiple competitive races in NZ result in more athletes committing to obstacle racing? It will be exciting to watch the results from this year and what the future will bring!
There may be information I haven’t included in this post? Please contact me to let me know.