Nelson-based race the Wairua Warrior has been sanctioned as a qualifying event for the Obstacle Course Racing World Championships, the first race to gain such a status in New Zealand.
The top three men and women at the Wairua Warrior in March will qualify to compete in the Pro division at the OCR World Championships, while the top ten men and women will qualify to compete in age group divisions at the World Championships where last year 42 countries were represented. New Zealand has had two participants compete at the Championships in previous years: Josh Bishop in 2015 and Colin Menzies in 2016.
“The Wairua Warrior was created to bridge the gap between ‘mud runs’ and ‘obstacle course racing’, as well as bring a new platform for local and international athletes to propel themselves into the international world of OCR. Bringing people from all walks of life together in a challenging, but fun, environment is paramount to our club’s philosophy. It’s important for people to have the belief that there is more to it than just running around muddy paddocks. The sport of OCR is on the rise and we are proud to be at the forefront and a driving force in the global phenomenon that is OCR,” says Greg Witika, one of the Wairua Warrior organisers.
Greg continues, “OCR has continued to evolve as an event industry, and New Zealand has a chance to catch up. We managed to secure the services of a Spartan Pro athlete and coach to be in New Zealand for the race and hold a training seminar in Nelson. Brakken Kraker who runs the Spartan Professional team will share his latest insights into how to excel in the sport, and then don his own shoes to take on the best OCR athletes in Nelson.”
The Wairua Warrior has seen an increasing rise in participation, with numbers doubling in 2016. Interest for the 2017 race has already been strong, with athletes expressing interest from the USA, Canada and Australia. The Wairua Warrior includes 6km and 12km distances, featuring 20+ obstacles ranging from balance beams to barbed wire crawls, to sand bag carries, climbing walls and tyre drags: some obstacles will require physical strength, while others will require endurance and balance.
Further profile of the sport for New Zealand comes Obstacle Course Racing New Zealand, formed recently to foster the sport in New Zealand and support emerging athletes to compete overseas. Its first representative, Colin Menzies, competed in the 2016 World Championships in Canada in both the short and standard course formats. Colin said, “It is very exciting to see New Zealand accredited with a world-qualifying race – it is a true testament to our history as a great sporting nation, and we have the perfect landscape and people to host world-class sporting events”.
The Wairua Warrior organisers encourage anyone to give it a go! The Wairua Warrior takes place on March 25th 2017 at Happy Valley Adventures in Nelson. More details and registration including photos from last year’s event can be found at the Wairua Warrior website.