Inaugural multiday trail running festival has top athletes raring to go

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Wānaka ultra-distance runner Mal Law is launching his first edition of  "The Wild", a multiday festival of trail running and other activities in Arrowtown from December 6-10. 

There will be five race distances, none of them easy, ranging between 9km and 85km. 

So far, 650 people have signed up, including a runner from the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.

The majority (80%) are travelling from outside the Queenstown Lakes region to compete and 30% are international runners. 

Top athletes include New Zealander Scott Hawker and the United States’ Bryon Powell, Meghan Hicks and Eszter Horanyi,  all multiple Hardrock 100 Endurance Run finishers.

Additional festival activities include a presentation by top New Zealand ultra-runner Anna Frost and a chance to remove wilding pines and plant other trees more suitable to the running courses.

"Our goal is to mobilise the running community to become involved in native habitat restoration work [rewilding], particularly in the areas through which The Wild sends runners," Law said.

The Wild’s whānau had already stripped hundreds of wildings from the trails and planted 500 beech trees, he said.

Law is well known in the running community for his efforts raising close to a million dollars to fund good causes while running long distances. 

He will not be on the start line, but intends to be at the finish line to cheer runners home. 

The native habitat restoration project takes place on Thursday,  December 7 and running events start on Friday, December 8.