NSW branch members Jenny Kent and I competed in the Merino Muster last Saturday 1st September..
The Merino Muster is held at Snowfarm, near Wanaka, New Zealand.
Snowfarm was previously used for sheep grazing, and is now used for cross-country skiing and is also the site of the Southern Hemisphere Proving Ground (winter testing of cars).
They also have a 10-lane Biathlon range.
There were 288 entrants over the three distances 42km, 21km & 7km.
The first 7km course was a bit confusing as you had to traverse back and forth close to the Snowfarm lodge. The second (for the 21 km event) and third (for the 42km event) loops went over different tracks and gave spectacular views over the nearby mountains.
There were a lot of short and sharp ascents and descents; the main flat areas were on the traverses to and from the Snowfarm Lodge.
It was sunny day and fairly fast. The snow mostly held up well, but some areas became slushy as the race went on.
I spent five days there training before the race. I met a lot of new people and also a number of people from Australia.
I stayed at Wanaka with some relatives who came over for Alpine skiing. Wanaka is about 40 minutes from Snowfarm and is a reasonable sized town with many restaurants and shops. Jenny stayed at Cadrona which is much smaller but about 20 minutes closer.
I really enjoyed the holiday and recommend it for anyone who wants to do another Loppet race.
View of entrance to Snowfarm Lodge
There was hardly any snow on the Western (sunny) side of the Range; once you got to the Eastern side the snow cover was fine.
View of eastern side Snowfarm Lodge
I had a lesson with Martina - she is coaching at Snowfarm this season