MOLESWORTH RUN HISTORY
The Molesworth Run is the brainchild of Maurice Brown who with running partner Allan Holdaway scoped out the course early in 1995. The stunning beauty and remote isolation of the Molesworth Station drew them to this unique location. The station is traversed by a rough gravel road but passable by normal road vehicles and at that time was closed to the public on the third Saturday of November, the date chosen to stage the event. The balance of the course south of the Clarence River Bridge is over low volume public road.
Their goal was to set up another national Ultra Running option but they had the vision to incorporate a Four Leg Relay into the event to attract a broad base of runners and in the process guarantee the sustainability of the event.
They carefully measured out the route by hand held wheel including measurements to key geographical features and possible transition points. The final distance was 84.7 km that in 1995 made it one of the longest and toughest Ultra Running events in the Southern Hemisphere. Clearly athletes would have to be in top fitness to handle the altitude, unpredictable weather conditions, rough road conditions and undulating nature of the course.
The first event was staged on Saturday 18th November 1995 and attracted a larger than expected field of 10 Solo Runners and 40 Four Person Teams. The event has run every year since except for 2016 when the schedule was broken by the severe Kaikoura Earthquake and had to be cancelled for logistical and safety reasons. Further disruption occurred the following year when the northern approach of the Clarence River Bridge was washed away by flood waters just weeks before the event. In an attempt to maintain continuity an alternative 60 km course was hastily scoped out starting from the Sedgemere Sleep-out in the Rainbow and ending at the same finish line in Hanmer Springs Village.
A Two Person Relay event was added to the itinerary in 1997, giving marathon loving athletes the option to compete.
Participation in the event has fluctuated over the years from the high turnout of 2012 & 2013 when 71 & 70 Teams and 7 Soloists competed, to the low years of 2001 & 2002 when only 26 & 24 Teams and 2 & 4 Soloists competed. However, the event has regularly attracted over 50 Teams and 10 Soloists.
The Molesworth Run has always been known as a social and fun loving event, which is especially emphasised by the hilarious bard renditions that are the highlight of every prize giving function.
The success of the event has always been secure under a close knit and effective management team who have largely stuck together for over 20 years and the dedicated support of many devoted runners who keep returning year after year.
May this iconic event on the New Zealand Running Calendar continue on for many years to come.