The Queenstown Dream - Page 3
"We are spoiled. There are so many fantastic trails," says 32-year-old, Kiwi (a commonly used term to describe New Zealander's) trail runner Evan McWhirter. "That's what makes New Zealand such a great place to visit for a trail-running enthusiast."
McWhirter knows. He has lived in Queenstown since he was eight years old and has run trails for as long as he can remember. "For those living in Queenstown, outdoor sports are second nature," he says. "Mountain running, mountain biking, skiing and boarding .. Bear-Grylls-type survival skills are a part of our school curriculum."
McWhirter half jokes about such survival skills but says they one day may save a life. Remote areas with potentially dangerous weather conditions are just a few miles from town. "We don't have many people in the South Island. We have tracks," says McWhirter. "And if it seems like there is no one else out there, it's because there isn't."
In part because it is the birth home of bungee jumping, Queenstown has earned the moniker "Adventure Capital of the World." Fortunately for trail runners Queenstown is also known not only for its close-in trails but also for its more remote backcountry trails.
The Routeburn Track, a 20-mile point-to-point singletrack, for example, was ranked as one of the top 11 trails in the world, by National Geographic Adventure magazine, and parts of the Lord of the Rings trilogy were filmed nearby. The Routeburn Track is also one of New Zealand's nine "Great Walks," as defined by New Zealand's Department of Conservation. Other Great Walks near Queenstown include the Milford and the Kepler tracks. These tracks are well maintained and offer unparalleled views, from ridgelines to coastlines, from native bush to glaciers.
Evan refers to his life as The Queenstown Dream: "It's a simple philosophy. It means to be free. Free to choose, free to do what it is you enjoy and free from crowds and pollution. It is quality of life, personal happiness, satisfaction and health above all else."
Neal Gorman is an avid trail and ultramarathon runner. He lives and trains in Washington D.C. and the nearby Shenandoah mountains.