The Mt Difficulty Ascent is a mountain trail ‘run’ of either half or full marathon distance.  Some sections of the ascent are between 40-50′.  Another section has a 200m roped descent, mostly to keep you on course but also as a safety requirement. If that’s making you uncomfortable already, good!  This event is not for everyone.  On the same day we also offer an alternative Marathon or Half Marathon event – The Rustic Run/Walk with a range of easy to moderate options to choose from.

If you are ‘as excited as all-hell!’ Great – keep reading.

This is an ADVENTURE RUN/TREK folks, the ‘adventure’ part means you cant run all of this course. The ups are really UP! You’ll be hands on knees, puffing just to walk, and atThe Mt Difficult Ascent is an extreme mountain marathon or half marathon for top athletes. It’s steep, rocky and some sections require hands and knees and ropes to ascend. times you will be using your hands to help you scramble up some dirty, rocky slopes, maybe churning through snow.   This is an extreme event for the extreme-inclined.

Mid June is WINTER in New Zealand
This is especially so in Central Otago where we get the coldest winters in the country. One of our special characteristics is our frosty mornings followed by crisp, clear calm days. So it could well be below freezing (-5’C) for the race start, you’ll soon warm up on the climbs…  Might get up to 12-16’C later in the morning… or it could be windy/rainy/snowy. Those last three are the least likely but boy you’ll be in for an adventure if it is!

If conditions are such that it would be foolish to send you to the top of the mountain we can still do the most awesome sections of the climbs, just to a lower altitude. Don’t worry – a) it is extremely unlikely we will cancel, b) if we put you on the ‘low altitude’ course you will not be disappointed.

The serious stuff on this course is off track. There may be some sheep tracks but you’ll be following bright orange/red wide trail marking tape – there will be plenty so no reason to get lost. Most of the ‘gentler’ sections are following high country 4WD tracks, these are still mostly quite technical to run and there could easily be snow across sections of them.

Mt Difficulty Ascent – Full Course Description

The course will be very well marked with bright red tape tied to white standards, on fence and on bushes.  The first 5km is relatively flat along Fulton Road verge, Bannockburn Suicings and vineyards. Then you have your first ‘warm up’ over Nipple Hill. 240m up (non tracked or sheep tracks) and 270m down in 2km. There’s a section of a couple of hundred meters where the course is very steep, there is no track except for the regular red tape marking the way. This is your first ‘cautionary’ area where you will have to take care over where you put your feet and maybe use your hands too… there are plenty of other area’s to race ‘hard out’ – the 4 ‘cautionary’ sections must be approached with care that you don’t fall AND that you don’t loose rocks on those below you. The majority of loose rocks have been removed. We have set the course in such a way that should a rock start rolling it will angle away from the line of competitors below it. Regardless – the standard rule in the mountains is DO NOT ROLL ROCKS down.  At the 6.5km marker, there is a first aid station, medic, water, RLine Electrolyte, BlueBird potato chips.  There are NO CUPs at aid stations. Marshals will help you fill your water bottles/bladders.

The next two kms are relatively flat again (undulating) along a 4WD track following the Kawarau River up-stream. Now the fun really begins. In the next one km you will climb 500m – this is where the event get’s it’s name, it is this and the next (for the Marathoners) ascent that sets this race apart from other events. An average of 50% over 500m vertical is bloody steep!! There are some sheep/goat tracks but you will just be following the red tape on the Matagouri bushes (You will not be getting too badly scratched up).

At the top of this climb there will be a Marshal and a photographer – no aid station. There is a water-race with good drinking water in it for a self re-fill. From here you follow the water race and a 4WD track that runs adjacent to it around the face of the mountain. There could be boggy area’s or snow so expect to get wet feet at this point. You are then back onto a good 4WD road for some fast down-hill for a couple of kms before getting directed off the road and onto a ridge. Initially you follow the fence then cross over the fence and continue to follow the ridge as it gets sharper and steeper before you come down another couple of hundred meters of ‘cautionary’ very steep face. There may be climbing rope in this area as a hand rail… more to keep you on course, NO need to be harnessed up and clipped on! Now you are back at first Aid station.

Please read the Things You Need To Know and Terms and Conditions tabs before registering for this Event.