In one week's time, fifty hardy souls (some would say masochists) will tackle the second episode of the Tour Te Waipounamu Bikepacking Ultra Race.
The course covers 1350km of stunning country and is unofficially billed as New Zealand's toughest mountain bike race. The course threads cunningly between Cape Farewell, the northernmost point to Te Waipounamu - The South Island, and Slope Point, the end of the landmass in the south.
Course creator Brian Alder undertook this mammoth effort to create a race course far more technical than any other brevet in New Zealand, taking in terrain that is not normally accessible to the public, being locked up in private high country stations. A huge amount of negotiation and planning was required, along with the goodwill of the station owners, and the quality of the route is testament to this effort.
It is not for faint hearted however, with over 20,000m of elevation gain, 3000km of which is undertaken on foot on the routes numerous hike-a-bike sections. The resupply points are fewer and far between, and exposure to long sections of remote backcountry require some solid wilderness skills. It is also a 'race', with no obligatory stop time overnight, so the riders at the sharp end will be stretching themselves to the fullest.
The time to beat? Ollie Whalley completed the course last year in a crazy 5d 10h 34 m, with all riders to complete the course making it home inside 9d 12h 28m.