Warriors of all shapes and sizes had to run, army crawl under barbed wire, climb walls, balance along logs, carry sandbags and monkey bar their way through the muddy Wairua Warrior course on Saturday morning.
The obstacle race wound through the river and up the looming hills at the Happy Valley Adventure Park, with 6km, 12km and 12km elite courses featuring over 20 obstacles.
Four hundred and forty racers took part, with officials dishing out burpee penalties to racers who failed to complete the obstacles correctly.
With the fastest time of the day, and in his first obstacle race, was Wakefield’s Ethan Helliwell, completing the 12km elite course in 1:36:37.
“It was more challenging than I expected and it over-met my expectations, the atmosphere was wicked, and it was an extreme amount of fun.
“I wasn’t expecting to win because there were people from out of town that had done that sort of thing before but I was really stoked.”
Also making waves on the course was wheelchair-bound David Trotter who featured in the Nelson Weekly two months ago, on a mission to raise funds for an all-terrain wheelchair that would enable him to complete the race with the help of his teammates.
David and his teammates Simon Topp, Seija McIntosh, Jay Blazek, Jesse Clifton and Greg Witika pushed and pulled his wheelchair under, over and through the muddy 6km course.
Around one hundred people lined up along the fence, chanting and forming a guard of honour from the last obstacle to the finish line.
Teammate, organiser and trainer Greg Witika says the group came in at a good three hours and 40 seconds but it wasn’t about the time, it was about making a moment.
“David went exceptionally well, he wanted to try everything we came up to. He was on an absolute high, he’s just grinning from ear to ear and he’s in that moment of what do I do now, where to next?
“Everyone out on the course who came past was wishing David all the best and giving him high-fives, he was stealing kisses as much as he could, it was brilliant.”
Greg says David’s last obstacle, an A frame was probably the most special.
“That was the obstacle he really wanted to try 12 months ago so it was a really cool moment and then for him to walk that last 20 metres to the finish line assisted was really special.
“We assisted David in walking over the finish line, we didn’t want to carry or wheel him over, we wanted him to do what he could to get over.
“Those are the moments that you can’t buy or create, they just sort of happen and we were just lucky to be there and experience it because it’s things like that create memories.”
New Zealand’s first and only elite obstacle racer, Joshua Bishop says the sport is making major inroads because of events like the Wairua Warrior.
“I didn’t think we could reach this stage so early on in the piece, to have such a big festival is awesome. This is big for New Zealand, we’re still a grassroots nation so to go from running around in farm paddocks to something slightly more established is cool, I’m stoked to be a part of it all.”