Naseby put on August weather in January for the delayed 2021 Great Naseby Water Race Ultramarathon at the weekend.

More than 160 runners took part in the event, which was run five months late after it became a casualty of the August lockdown.

The ultramarathon through the Naseby Forest puts runners to the test mentally and physically, and for one couple the weekend’s race was their final lap.

Race directors Jamie and Aileen Sinclair started the Great Naseby Water Race Ultramarathon 15 years ago to fill a gap in the running calendar.

Originally involving 13 people on a 50km and 80km run in freezing August temperatures, it has evolved to cater for the most dedicated of trail runners and incorporates 100km, 200km and 100-mile (161km) races.

The latest event upped the stakes with the addition of a 200-mile (322km) race.

Going the distance . . . Bryan McCorkindale, of Christchurch, competes in the 200 mile event in the Great Naseby Water Race Ultramarathon. PHOTO: RICHARD HEALEY

The event will be taken over by the Naseby Development Charitable Trust.

It was the right time to hand the race on to the Naseby community, Mrs Sinclair said.

“It feels good but sad.

“It’s time and we both realise that,” she said.

Her husband agreed.

“[The race has] evolved over a series of years and was a strict learning curve, but it’s been a hell of a ride,” he said.

The couple were happy the race was now in the hands of the Naseby community, and he hoped it would be a “huge money-spinner” for the town like the Kepler Challenge was for Te Anau.

Trail running was a great equaliser and that was evident in the way runners supported one another during the race, Mr Sinclair said.

“Race doesn’t matter. The only race that matters is the running race and, you know, cultural beliefs or religion or whatever it. It’s a melting pot, it really is, in lots of ways economically. There’s some people here on the bones of their arse and there’s some people here who are company directors,” he said.

“They all put their running shoes on and go, and that’s what it is Mrs Sinclair said.

While the couple were passing the baton, they would continue to be involved behind the scenes, and her husband intended to run the 100-mile race in August, she said.

In the running . . . Mark Rigby, of Christchurch, and Andy Smith, of Dunedin, run the 200-mile (322km) event in the Great Naseby Water Race Ultramarathon. PHOTO: RICHARD HEALEY