Mt Difficulty Ascent – What’s in a Name?

Mt Difficulty 1There is something steep coming….something very steep! Round 7 of the Skyrunning ANZ series is upon us and it shows no mercy.

The Mt Difficulty Accent is perhaps the most technically demanding of the 2016 series with plenty of “off piste” running, scrambling and rock hopping awaiting those brave enough to undertake the endeavour. However on the flip side uninterrupted panoramic views of the NZ high country and grin inducing technical descending go along with the pride of finishing, a race that stamps an alluring authority over mountain running world wide, as the rewards.

To help cut a realistic picture of what awaits those entered in the Mt Difficulty Accent we caught up with the race director Terry Davis for a candid insight in to the race.

12923174_780681025409594_7303538918757614504_nSkyrunning ANZ: Mt Difficulty is one hell of a hard race, what was your inspiration for the course?

Terry Davis: It’s not an exaggeration to say I have been fanaticising about plotting a course straight up Mt Difficulty for over 20 years – visually it just excites the F#$% out of me. It was pictures of Skyrunning Races in Europe that allowed me to believe we could actually do something like this here.

Skyrunning ANZ:  Last year was the second edition of the race – what was the DNF rate and why do you think that it was so low.

Terry Davis: Only about 12 from 130 pulled out – I am very honest in my promotion of the event and actively try to scare people off – I make it very clear this is NOT a race for everybody. Luckily (and hopefully it continues) only the capable turn up – unaware beginners on this course can be very dangerous for themselves and others.

Skyrunning ANZ: The course is certainly the most technical in the Skyrunning series with plenty of “off piste” running. What kind of experience do runners need before they can take this on?

Terry Davis: They need to be experienced and confident mountain runners at the very least – more importantly experienced hikers/trampers/hunters/climbers are good for this course. You get a good taste of the technicality of it about 6km in and it is easy to pull out at that aid station if you’re uncomfortable – it gets quite a bit worse after that!

Skyrunning ANZ: What are the two most difficult parts of the course in your eyes and what can runners do to prepare.

Terry Davis: The prolonged steepness is the ‘meat and vege’ of this course – Just find the steepest hill you can safely go up and do reps straight up it for 30-60mins of up-hill climbing. There is also very short (200m) technical downhill where we have ropes set as a hand hold – key thing here is to STOP RACING and just carefully get down the section – the adrenaline afterwards will help you pick up the pace right afterwards!

20140604_115218Skyrunning ANZ: How many aid stations will there be, how are apart are they and what will be at each?

Terry Davis: Aid stations about each 6-8km – there will be potato chips, muesli bars, water, electrolyte, at the half way point on the marathon there will be tea, coffee, milo, soup… and Beer and Pizza at the end!!

Okay so there is some good solid advice in there but more importantly how cool does that race sound? We are super excited for the 2016 edition of the race and cannot wait to see everyone undertake a challenge of a life time.

Happy Skyrunning

Skyrunning ANZ.