The Further Faster 42km Mountain Marathon is a true adventure and one that will push you to your limits both physically and mentally. The marathon has 3500 metres vertical gain over the course distance. That is close to Mt Cook's height broken up into three different ascents and descents. There may well be some snow and ice on the course adding to the adventure. If that excites you then that means you are the kind of person that this marathon will suit. And that means we want to see you on the start line in 2022!
Date: Saturday 9 April 2022
Start Time: 6:00am
Start/Finish Line: Coopers Creek, Mountain Road
Race Briefing: 5:40am
Minimum Age: 18yr
Cut Off Times: 2:30pm Wharfedale Hut (approx 30km mark)
Result Categories:1st, 2nd, 3rd Women, Men Overall
Prize Money: $500 1st Female, $500 1st Male
King and Queen of the Mountain: 1st Female to the summit of Mt Oxford $50 + prize, 1st Male to the summit of Mt Oxford $50 + prize
Additional Info: Due to the risk to competitors and marshals there is a cut off in place at the Wharfedale Hut at 2:30pm. Once competitors make the cut off they will continue up and over Mt Oxford to the finish line.
The course starts and finishes at Coopers Creek, Oxford.
You ascend Mt Oxford and across the summit, then head down the mountain on the western side to the Wharfedale Hut. There you will find the Aid Station where you get to recharge before heading up the second mountain, Black Hill. You do a loop of Black Hill, visiting the hut near the summit for a quick check-in, then descend to the Wharfedale Track, which you take back to the Aid Station at Wharfedale Hut. Have a quick refresh there, get a morale boost from the crew, and then make your way back up Mt Oxford. This climb is renowned as being the toughest section of the track, both physically and mentally. Once you fight your demons (and question why on earth you entered the race!) all the way to the bush-line, you head back along the summit and return to the Finish Line.
(A GPX file is sent to you in the lead-up to the race and a full map is included in your race pack.)
There is some great single track running on technical trails but plenty of scrambling and walking in the mix. This marathon is not going to be 'run' - prepare for gut busting hiking. There is a good chance of some snow and ice along parts of the course and we won't alter the route unless there is a blizzard going on up top, or if the snow/ice is too treacherous for you to tackle, so prepare for this in your training. We have full LandSAR support throughout the 42K and full radio contact to keep you safe.
The section down Mt Oxford toward the Wharfedale Hut is particularly gnarly and there is some scrambling involved on both the descent and also when you head back up on your return towards the finish line. You are going to need all of your compulsory gear. (Please see Athlete Info for the Compulsory Gear.)
The Cut Off for the Further Faster Mountain Marathon is at 2:30pm at the Wharfedale Hut Aid Station. If you do not make the cut off you will be transported back to the Race Village by vehicle. Don't worry - there'll be lots of laughs and you get to hang out with the fun crew we have in the back country. We take you in a warm vehicle through some pretty incredible scenery.
Not the worst way to spend the rest of the afternoon!
If you make the cut off you will continue on the course back up and over Mt Oxford. For your safety we have the following requirement:
If you are not off the summit by dark (at approx the 35km mark) you will be chaperoned down the mountain by LandSAR crew towards the finish line. You are still competing - this is not another cut off. It is a safety requirement only. You won't be holding hands (although this is permitted) and if you prefer you can ask your chaperone to stay back a bit to give you some space.
To make this event a bit more accessible, we have come up with a pretty cool alternate option for you. This is for those of you who are really nervous about the possibility of doing the hardest marathon in the country, but still REALLY want to challenge yourself and enter.
Course Maps will be uploaded soon with alternate course options clearly labelled. Keep an eye out for these.
ALTERNATE COURSE OPTION ONE:
As you head over Mt Oxford, instead of turning down towards the Wharfedale Hut, you can abort mission and do the 21km course instead. Your time will be included in the Half Marathon results.
ALTERNATE COURSE OPTION TWO:
If you get down to the Wharfedale Hut (13km mark and at the bottom of the first mountain) and decide to abort mission, you can dodge mountain #2 and instead head back to the Finish Line taking the 33km course. Your time will be included in the 33km Mountain Challenge results.
Long post for comedic effect. Scroll to the end for my top tip.
A long time ago I entered the Oxford Odyssey. Why? Because I've never done an official marathon and this one is sold as the hardest marathon in NZ.
My self belief dominates and my need for dopamine is high. Don't muck about, hard is my middle name.
How hard was it? I cannot recall suffering this much for so long - ever! The uphills made my legs and lungs beg for mercy. Three ascents approx 1000m each. The downs were worse than the ups though. Every step downhill my hips and knees kept singing "51, 51, you're 51 and you're a knobhead".
Much of the agony was borne from a lack of training. I ran further yesterday than I have in the last 6 months combined. You may recall some torn ankle ligaments and a DNF on the Crater Rim Ultra; followed soon after by a torn achilles whilst chasing Tom Downs up some stairs. Rehab for track cycling became the focus and running was outlawed in Badgerland. Needless to say that the prep wasn't ideal.
Race day involved getting up at 3.30am to be in Oxford for 5am. Hence I forgot the head torch and the running poles. I wasn't too fussed about the poles because I hadn't trained with them, and they are one step away from a Zimmer frame.
Start line - I saw 3 people without poles. Even the youngsters had poles. Oops! The terrain was brutal. After 2 hours my spine had fused, and my back muscles solidified. I was now cursing my lack of poles, general over confidence and stupidity.
There was only one way out. I traveled as quickly as I could with each step. At no point was I not in pain. In my head I was Andy McNabb heading for the Syrian border and trying to stay alive. Read Bravo Two Zero, if you haven't already.
Then, some respite. The combination of cold, wet, and poorly fitting short liner, led to some chafing of the right testicular nether region. Normally this would be cause for alarm, but not today. The distraction came as welcome relief from agony elsewhere. A brief moment hilarity ensued as I realised that I was prepared to sacrifice the crown jewels in order to keep my legs.
The last 12km back up and down Mount Oxford took me 2.5 hours - and that was everything I had.
So here's my top tip for life - never should you ever do this event unless you either hate yourself or you want to take self-flagellation to a new level.
And if you need a laugh, swing by the house and watch me trying to walk. I won't be going anywhere today.
Take a rough back country marathon trail,
Grab Mt Cook, chop it into 3 bits and plonk it on the course,
Add a couple of rivers between the bumps,
Drop a bunch of trees on the track,
Cover 1/3 of the course in snow & ice,
a few marker poles so you know where to go.
And call it an odyssey - The Mt Oxford Odyssey.
This was my 5th trail race, and it would be fair to say I've never done anything like it before. After having run over Mt Oxford the first time, if you were dumb enough to think about what lay ahead, any sane competitor would suddenly curl into a gibbering ball in the ground and refuse to move until extracted. The only way I survived the race was "In the now" because it was always OK where I was. It was just what lay ahead that was terrifying.
From the Race Director:
(we'd like you to know he also said he had a great day - and he's done the marathon twice!)
A thank you to you and your team for putting on a wonderful event. The Mt Oxford Odyssey is a very technically challenging course and I am sure as it grows it will be up there with the top trail run of NZ.
Also a thank you to all the crew who were at aid stations and on the course, all were helpful and encouraging.
Anyone who is in to trail running should give this one a go. If I can do it at my young age of 71 and finish on time, anyone can. Challenge yourself.