Nelson's Ben Bolitho taking part in this year's Wairua Warrior. Photo: Evan Barnes/Shuttersport Limited.

Nelson ‘breeding ground’ for obstacle course competitors

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Nelson is making a name for itself as a hotbed for Obstacle Course racing with half of the country’s entire qualifying field for the world championships coming from the region.

“It’s like a breeding ground for obstacle course racing,” says Colin Menzies of Obstacle Racing New Zealand.

Obstacle course racing stalwarts Reid Carnegie and Ben Bolitho qualified for the world championships in Ontario, Canada, through the Wairua Warrior. The event, in Hira, gained accreditation as a qualifying event for the first time this year.

However, there are other locals who also qualified for the world champs –   Ethan Halliwell, Sam Millison, Dawn Chalmers, Caitlin Fielder and Cameron.

“They have set the tone now,” Colin says. “In Nelson, the terrain is good and there are lots of hills. People enjoy it.”

The world championships features 1500 competitors from about 50 countries. All will be climbing, swinging, crawling, carrying and dragging their way through the gruelling 15km and 3km courses.

Colin says Reid is training for a podium spot at this year’s event.

“He has a very good chance of making that a reality. I have been tracking his training data and he is right up there with top blokes in his division as far as pace goes.”

Sam Millison had never ran an obstacle race before, but finished fourth at the Wairua Warrior which meant he qualified for this year’s event.

“It’d be great to be able to get these young athletes to OCRWC this year as their running pace and times are world-class,” Colin says.

However, he says as OCRNZ has just started it was still looking at ways to raise funds for them.

In 2015 and 2016 there was only one New Zealander attend the world champs.

“So to have four attend this year and over a dozen qualified, with half of those coming from the Nelson region, is quite an achievement in such a short time and one that Kiwis should be proud of, especially the people of Nelson.”