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Papatowai Challenge, Saturday 24 February 2024

Papatowai Challenge, Catlins, New Zealand

Leith’s Nic Bathgate finished second overall in 58 minutes 20 seconds, whilst Nathan Shanks finished 4th overall and 3rd in the Open Men’s grade.  A full report will be out soon! See the full Leith results further below:

Papatowai Challenge Race Report from Margie

“Richard and I have been wanting to do this race for a few years now with a lot of our running friends telling us how wonderful it is, and they were so right! It lived up to all our expectations.

A very civilised start time allows competitors to drive down on the day to Papatowai. It was cloudy and lightly spitting with rain, but very warm. Everyone was very comfortable in singlets. A “Ready,set, go” started us off along the road and over the bridge before peeling off to the right and along a bush track. Hard to pass people but a nice way to get the legs rolling along.

We popped out onto the beach and fortunately I had Aaron Eyles who has done this course countless time overtake me so I knew just to follow his line along the hard packed sand.

A long run along the beach but it gave you time to have a look around. Apparently deer come down onto the beach to eat the seaweed here!

Getting to the northern end of the beach a quick pop in through the sand dunes then onto a 4WD track that gradually climbs up through the bush. A bit slippery on the rocks and mud but very runnable in race flats.

Regretting at this stage just how fast I went out along the beach as the legs and lungs started to burn and there was a lot of climbing to go. An aid station marks where it meets a gravel farm road so you could open out a bit more here. More climbing but nothing too steep. I was very much looking forward to the downhill, particularly as Richard had just come past me and I thought I could make up some time on the descent. But Richard had his race face on and was charging after Liam so I didn’t see him again until the finish line.

There was a really cool moment when we were coming up behind some walkers and what looked like a very leggy dog. On second look that wasn’t a dog, it was someone’s pet fallow deer! It had a very pretty green collar on and was trotting along in the race. Only in New Zealand! I ran past it but maybe another kilometre on I heard someone approaching really fast behind me- turned and looked and it was Bambi! It finally decided it was all a bit much and took off into the bush.

Back down on the flat it was only 2 and a bit k’s to the finish line. Definitely a cool race and one we will be back for next year.”

Mostly Leith results

Open Men

2nd Nic Bathgate 58:50 (overall place 2)

3rd Nathan Shanks 1:00:25 (overall place 4)

5th Liam Turk 1:03:43 (overall place 6th)

14th David Liddell 1:16:21 (Overall place 28)

23rd Ashim  1:41:49 (overall place 88th)


2nd Richard Campbell 1:04:14 (overall place 7th)

3rd Aaron Eyles 1:05:29 (overall place 8th)

8th Darryl Sutton 1:20:26 (overall place 37th)

9th Matt Johnson 1:20:32 (overall place 38)


1st Simon Leaning 1:07:33 (overall place 12)

2nd Phill Page 1:15:23 (overall place 24)


6th Dave McLean 1:38:18 (overall place 84)

Open Women

1st Alice Cuthbert 21 1:13:44 1 (overall place 21)

15th Imogen Holmstead-Scott 1:59:31 (overall place 131)


1st Margie Campbell 1:05:29 1 (overall place 8th)

2nd Kirsty Eyles 1:09:52 2 (overall place 15)

11th Lucy Marr 1:36:22 (overall place 80)


6th Emily Harris 1:27:05 (overall place 57)


19th Hilary Lawrence 2:22:33 (overall place 29)

94th Judith Bateup 2:54:03 (overall place 115)


Tarawera UTMB, 17/18 February 2024

Rotorua, New Zealand

Anna O’Byrne was 31st Overall and 1st in MW40-44 in the 100 Miler. In the 105km event were Michael Pullar and Signe Stanbridge. Mark O’Neill and Lee Flowers competed in the 100 Miler event

Leith Results

100 Miler

5th Anna O’BYRNE NZ 40-44W 22:14:46 Cat 1st 31st Overall

231st Mark O’ NEILLNZ 40-44M 31:58:00 Cat 30th M 173rd

243rd Lee Flowers NZ 55-59M 32:19:44 Cat 14th M 182


258TH Michael Pullar NZ 55-59M 16:08:47 CAT 12TH M 192ND

301st Signe STANBRIDGE NZ40-44W 16:46:21 Cat 12th W 80th

Mark O’Neill reflects on his first entry into the world of ultra-running

The Tarawera 100 Mile race marked my first entry into the world of ultra-running, a challenge I never thought I’d tackle. It all started with a casual weekend run with friends, where the idea of attempting such a feat took place. Fast forward to race day, and there we were – myself, Lee, and Aaron Porter – standing nervously at the start line in Kawarau, bracing ourselves for the monumental journey ahead.

Right from the get-go, the event organisation was top-notch. From hassle-free online registration to smooth check-ins, everything ran like clockwork, a testament to the organisers’ efficiency and dedication.

The race kicked off at 4 am, with our sights set on pacing ourselves through the first half to conserve energy for the latter stages. My goal was to reach the 80km mark within 12 hours, a plan that worked well in the early stages of the race.

Around the 88km mark, I started to become aware of pain in both my heels. Everyone says to be proactive and solve any issues with shoes before they become a bigger issue, I removed both shoes and immediately another competitor came over and introduced herself as a nurse and advised to get to the medics as soon as possible. I was thinking “how can this be?” I’ve never had a blister before in my life! Thanks to my support crew – Robyn, James, and Ailish – I managed to address the issue at the medical tent, albeit with a bit of delay. After a quick fix and a change of shoes, I soldiered on, braving the scorching heat that began to take its toll. Suddenly my goal of 24 hours disappeared, and it was damage control from here on in.

As the day wore on, the soaring temperatures tested every runner on the course. Aid stations became what can only be described as resembling a war zone, offering brief reprieves amidst the relentless march forward.

Nightfall brought with it a new set of challenges, especially during the stretch from Miller to Okataina. The track felt unforgiving, and fatigue began to kick in. Arriving at Okataina in the dead of night, I was greeted by my support crew, their presence a source of both comfort and pressure. I badly wanted to quit by this point but I didn’t want to give up in front of the kids or Robyn who had been following me around all day. After a pep talk from Robyn and Lee, we decided to get some food in and keep going forward. A huge thanks to both of them!

The following miles were a battle against self-doubt and physical discomfort.

As morning broke, signalling the final stretch, a surge of determination propelled me forward. The pain seemed to disappear, and I think the final 5km were by far my quickest of the whole race.

Crossing the finish line in just under 32 hours was a moment of profound satisfaction. While it wasn’t the time I had hoped for, the sense of accomplishment was undeniable.

Looking back, I’m grateful for the camaraderie and support of fellow runners, volunteers, and organisers who made the journey possible. Their encouragement and assistance were invaluable, reminding me of the power of community in overcoming challenges.

As I reflect on this unforgettable experience, one moment stands out above all others: the final kilometer, running alongside my family and crossing the finish line with my kids

Anna O’Byrne’s Tarawera miler recap

I have heard people say you can go through a lifetime of emotions while running 100 miles, while I am not sure it was a life times worth, I definitely experienced plenty!
The startline was incredible, the atmosphere was filled with with excitement for what was to come.
The women’s field had a few quick runners in it, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to match their pace early on so my plan was to be efficient but not rushed and to be in a good position later on in the race so that if they out raced themselves at the front I would be there ready to race.
The 1st 100km went really well, it was stinking hot and had been from the start but I felt like I was managing it ok. I was loving every moment of the day, until I wasn’t. The section before buried village was long and hot, with a lot of people dropping here. I think in hindsight this might have been where things took a turn for me too, maybe more time in the aid station would have paid off?
The final 60km were an emotional rollercoaster of feeling great and bouncing over the beautiful trials, to vomiting on the side of the road, having Ruth Croft cheer me on, then more vomiting, the excitement of picking up my pacer & finding out I was third female, feeling great for a few kms then vomiting so hard I felt faint and needed to sit down, being passed while vomiting & feeling like a failure to arriving at the final aid station determined to finish hard. I arrived at the finish line knowing on the day that I gave it everything I had to give! After a trip to medical, more vomiting and a 4 kg race weightloss I found out I had finished 5th female overall and 1st in my age group.
A week removed I am proud for giving it a good crack but also a little frustrated, my legs still felt like they had so much more to give but the vomiting limited my ability to race the final 60km. So it’s back to the drawing board to see if I can get to the bottom of why my body seems to insist on vomiting in milers! If anyone has any ideas, please fire them my way!

I’m looking forward to see you back on the track and trails once my body has had some time to recover


Moonshine Trail, Saturday 10 February 2024

Dolamore Park, Gore, Southland

Full Results on Event Website >> Moonshine Trail 

Leith’s Ben Pigou finished second in the 15km Run to quality junior runner George Hamilton from Hill City-University – podium winners listed below:

15km Run Male : Open (20-39)

1 George Hamilton 1:00:42 

2 Ben Pigou 1:08:21 

3 Russell McKay 1:11:46