Alps 2 Ocean Ultra event to be last one

July 05, 2019 - 213 views

It is a world-class event with a reputation for its heart.

However, in February, the third Alps 2 Ocean Ultra will also be the last, race director Mike Sandri, of Oamaru, has confirmed.

For each of the past two years roughly 120 runners from 15 countries lined up to take on the week-long seven-stage 323km race from Mt Cook to Oamaru.

Mr Sandri, Linton Clarke and John Crombie formed the core group of organisers, but up to 40 people, including physiotherapists and doctors, gave up up to nine days for the event.

"It wasn't a decision that we took lightly. It's one we thought about for a while and thought the best thing for everybody was not to carry on with the race," Mr Sandri said.

"It's not a business - we can't run it like a business. We rely on sponsors. We rely on people to volunteer their time. We rely on organisers to give up their time. It's a whole lot of reliance on people to give, to be perfectly honest. And I think you can do that for so long and then people grow weary of that. I don't want to take advantage of those people."

And though it could be argued the race would have been more sustainable as a commercial endeavour, landowners who allowed the race through their property did so "simply because everything was going back to the community and we weren't making anything out of it".

Former competitor, and volunteer, Oamaru's Sara Jones-Hogan said she could "totally understand" the decision, but still found it sad.

"I'm so proud to have been a part of it. And so proud of what [Mr Sandri] has done. And really grateful. Even though I've only been here a short time I'm blown away by how a group of people can make such a difference to a community."

The friends she made along the way and the greeting Mr Sandri gave runners as they finished every stage would remain strong memories, she said.

"No matter what time of the day, he was always there, always had a big smile and a hug just to greet you. That's just the type of person that he is. Just that warmth.

"And you went from that hug to just being surrounded by people in the camp who would come up and we would just sit and chat, or have our meals together, or line up for the medical [tent].

"It was just like another world.

"To be surrounded by amazing scenery, by amazing people, both volunteers and competitors, was just great."


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