19th Routeburn Classic race this weekend

The Routeburn Classic returns on Saturday for its 19th edition.

Four hundred competitors in the sold-out event, will participate in a trail run along the Routeburn Track in Fiordland National Park, marking two consecutive years for the first time since 2016 and 17.

The events from 2018-20 were cancelled due to adverse weather conditions, while the 2022 edition was called off due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Athletes will embark on the challenging 32km trail, climbing to 1255m at its highest point.

The shortest of New Zealand’s Great Walks, the trail links the Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks in the South West New Zealand World Heritage Area.

Athletes will make their way through ancient beech forests, over alpine passes, and past cascading waterfalls, offering an unparalleled wilderness experience.

Routeburn Classic race director Glen Currie said his team looked forward to welcoming athletes from around the world, as well as volunteers, supporters and sponsors, to the event at the bottom of the South Island for another memorable year.

"We can’t wait to reunite our trail-running community for the 19th year of Routeburn Classic.

"This event has had its fair share of bad luck over recent years, so fingers crossed for decent weather so we can put on another iconic event for all those heading south this coming weekend," Currie said.

"This event holds a special place in the hearts of many people, and we’re excited to add another chapter to it this year.

"It’s great to see so many past participants coming back to be a part of these celebrations, as well as lots of new faces.

"It will no doubt be another great event on the Routeburn Track."

In the men’s race, Toby Batchelor is back again, aiming to go one better after his close second-place finish last year, when he was overtaken by eventual winner David Haunschmidt, with only two minutes separating them.

The women’s competition also promises plenty of excitement.

None of last year’s podium finishers are returning, leaving the field wide open for new contenders to make their mark.

Cromwell-based Naomi Brand, fresh from a victory at the Mt Oxford Odyssey 33km event, is a contender.

She is using this event as part of her build-up to the Lavaredo Ultra Trail and UTMB in Europe later this year.

Jack Beaumont holds the men’s race record with a time of 2hr 37min 51sec, set in 2017. Sarah Douglas is the fastest female, with a time of 3hr 16min 48sec, set in 2014.

The field is made up of 59% males and 41% females.

International competitors make up 11% of the field and eight countries are represented.

Ultimate Event Productions Ltd, which also owns the Coast to Coast, acquired the Routeburn Classic from previous owner Evan McWhirter in 2023. This is the second year it will be running the event.