Race course description

The race traverses the Southern Crossing route, in the Tararua Forest Park, from Kaitoke to Otaki Forks. 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 flat-ish 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.

Support volunteers

The Tararua Mountain Race has a group of volunteers that help out on race day. The volunteers consist of two groups; marshals deployed alone the route and helpers based at the start and finish areas. The marshals are made up of people from the Wellington Search and Rescue Organisation and people from Wellington tramping (hiking) clubs. Groups of marshals are based at Alpha and Kime Huts, while an individual marshal acts as "Tail End Charlie". The helpers are made up of people from Wellington tramping (hiking) clubs, previous participants, relatives and friends of the organiser. First Aid is provided by personel from the Mountain Safety Council.

The Wellington Land SAR Organisation helps in the safe running of this event. The use of this organisation facilitates the need to cope with multiple emergencies during the event. They have been involved since the first race in 1990. This organisation consists of highly trained volunteers who are responsible for land Search and Rescue in the Wellington region. Individuals from this organisation volunteer their time for this event. Four to six SAR individuals, along with the other marshals, tramp (hike) into Alpha and Kime Huts on the Friday evening before race day. There are two checkpoints, one at Alpha Hut (16.43km) and the second at Kime Hut (24.6km). A small team is posistioned near Atkinson Peak to cover emergencies between Alpha and Kime Huts. Limited water, fruit drink (even hot drinks, including soup, if a cold day) will be available here.