56km Trail Run

(NZ short course trail running championship)

Sponsored by

3 Peaks Plus 1

Twice the Pain, Twice the Gain

Showcasing the best of Dunedin’s trails and mountains, the 3 Peaks Plus 1 includes 22km of the iconic 26km 3 Peaks route with a big detour. The extra 34km (ish) adds in an extra mountain with a brutally steep climb, some beautiful single track through native forest, a river crossing and a wee bit of mud.

This is a tough mountain race that should only be considered if you have previous mountain marathon or ultra experience. If tough is what you are looking for then you won’t be disappointed!

Carefully read all of this race information. It contains important information about the race and times you need to meet to ensure you make the start (and finish!!). All runners must register and attend the race briefing and have their gear checked before being allowed to run in this event.

Entries for this stunning event will be limited to 150 ‘lucky’ runners, so get in quick!

See below for course description.

NZ Trail Running Championship

The 56km 3 Peaks Plus 1 is also the NZ Short Course Trail Running championship. Runners wishing to race for The NZ Athletics Trail Running title, male and female must be currently registered with a running club affiliated to Athletics NZ. This is only for runners age 20 and over.

Non-registered runners will still be applicable for places and and prizes as normal.

Accordion item 1

Compulsory Gear List

The compulsory gear list is here for your protection and safety. The following items MUST be carried:

  • Headlight.
  • Small day backpack.
  • Rain jacket – it must be seam-sealed waterproof.
  • Merino or thermal long sleeve top.
  • Long thermal tights or trousers (compression leggings are not acceptable). Poly-prop or merino are the norm.
  • Warm beanie or buff. (Multifunctional head-wear).
  • Warm gloves.
  • Survival blanket/bag.
  • Your own snacks, energy bars, Tailwind Nutrition etc.
  • Water bottles/bladders – enough to carry at least 1 litre of water (there will be no cups available at water stations).
  • Whistle.
  • Phone (optional but strongly recommended).
  • Gear checks will be carried out at registration and spot checks will be carried out at the Tunnel Track aid station.

Registration and Briefing

All runners must register, have gear checked and attend the race briefing on Saturday March 29th at Chingford Park pavilion.

Registration and gear checks from 2pm to 6pm. Race briefing at 6pm.

Gear Drops

Clothing can be left at start line at Woodhaugh Gardens, they will be taken to the finish line at the Leith Harrier Club Rooms at Chingford Park for your collection.

Aid & Water Stations, Toilets

Water, Tailwind Nutrition, and snacks will be available at the following aid stations as indicated but there will be no cups. Bring your own cup or bottle.

  1. Bullring (water and snacks)
  2. Longridge Rd (water, snacks and Tailwind)
  3. Bacon Knob (water, Tailwind and snacks)
  4. Hightop (water, Tailwind and snacks)
  5. Swampy (water, Tailwind and snacks)
  6. Leith Valley (water and Tailwind)
  7. Mt. Cargill (water, Tailwind and snacks)

Portaloos will be available at the start line and at Longridge Rd, Swampy Summit and Leith Valley aid stations.

Cut Off Times

To ensure the safety of our competitors and marshals, the 3P+1 has cut off times to make it to certain stages of the event by certain times. In the event of any runner missing the 3P+1 cut off times/locations (listed below) they will be offered a ride back to the start/finish line as soon as an organiser’s vehicle becomes available. You don’t have to accept the ride but we will take your race number anyway.

These will be strictly enforced.

  • 12:30pm Hightop track intersection
  • 1:30pm Swampy Summit
  • 2pm Leith Valley
  • 4pm final cut off at Mt Cargill

Race Rules

3P+1 athletes must have prior mountain running and marathon distance race experience. This is not an event for novice runners.

  • All competitors are required to check-in and pick up their race number on Saturday afternoon, March 29th between 4 and 6pm at Chingford Park.
  • Compulsory briefing is at 6pm at Chingford Park.
  • While checking-in, every competitor must get their mandatory gear checked. All essential gear must be carried at all times. It can get very cold very quickly on these hills. There will be spot gear checks at the start of the race and at the Longridge Rd aid station.
  • Always listen to the advice of marshals. They are there for your safety. Also be polite and say thanks. They are wonderful people who have volunteered their time for your pain and pleasure.
  • If you pull out for any reason you must report to officials at the finish line. Otherwise our wonderful volunteer marshals will be waiting and looking for you all day and night.
  • If you can’t start the race on Sunday morning please let officials know.
  • Please don’t drop any rubbish and if you see any that may have been dropped by another runner please pick it up.
  • All tracks are open so please be respectful of other track users.
  • All roads are open. Please be alert and keep to the sides.
  • Avoid headphones/earbuds use during the race. There’s lots of native birdsong to enjoy. If you do use them please remove them at aid stations so you don’t miss instructions. You will be required to remove them for road sections.
  • Race numbers are to be visible at all checkpoints.
  • Cut off times will be strictly enforced. Our wonderful volunteer marshals don’t want to stay out there all day and night.
  • If you come across another competitor in trouble stay with them until you know they are safe.
  • You are responsible for your own safety, not the race organisers.
  • The course will be well marked but please be familiar with the race map. Here is a downloadable gpx file for use on your phone or watch.
  • And here is the route on Strava.

Course Description

This is a challenging 56km endurance event with about 2600m elevation. Distances are approximate. The course will be well marked with marshals at aid stations and key intersections.

Leg 1 – Woodhaugh to Bullring Aid Station (8km)

The race starts 6am at the Malvern St/Woodhaugh Street intersection by the bridge over the Leith, the route goes via Ross Creek reservoir, Wakari Road on to the Pineapple Track, up up up to Flagstaff Summit. It’s all very well maintained single track with some beautiful views of Dunedin lights when you get above the bushline. The post at the top of Flagstaff marks your first summit at 670m and then you carry on down the other side to the Bullring Aid station.

Leg 2 – Bullring to Longridge Rd Aid Station (7km)

Cross over Whare Flat road and pass through the gate on to Longridge Road. Follow Longridge Rd all the way (this is a change for 2024). Be careful you don’t smash your quads on the gentle descent – this is a great place to get your 5km PB but I wouldn’t recommend it! After about 7km you will come out at the Longridge Rd Aid Station. There will be a gear check at here where you will be required to show one piece of essential gear.

Leg 3 – Longridge Rd Aid Station to Bacon Knob Aid Station (12.5km)

Now the fun stuff starts…This is the longest and toughest leg of the race with 2 stream crossings, lots of mud, a tunnel, a couple of ropes, a brutally steep uphill, some beautiful native bush trails and stunning views along the ridge as you near the top. You will need to fill up your water for this section!

200m up the road from the Longridge Rd Aid Station is the start of Tunnel Track. Tunnel track follows an old water race that used to be part of the city water supply completed in 1881. Leaving the water race, follow the markers over a hill in a forestry section and then drop down again to join the water race again.

What good is a tunnel track without a tunnel?

Markers will direct you along Tunnel Track (through the tunnel) to join the Racemans Track. There’s about 5km of really nice flat running alongside the water race… with the occasional mud puddle, large ditch, creek crossing and a small rope section to avoid it getting monotonous. Follow the markers down the hill to Silverstream. A marshal will be here to watch you get your feet wet – then follow the track for about 200m until the sign labelled Long Ridge/Mt Allan. 

Powder Ridge – the hill that keeps giving (don’t worry we wouldn’t remove this section!)

Turn right and start the climb up the 5km of Powder Ridge… you might not want to run this bit as in the next 1km you will climb over 220m. After that it ‘flattens out’ so you only have 250m extra to climb before you reach the Bacon Knob Aid station where Powder Ridge meets Long Ridge. There’s also a bit of mud… and a handy rope when it really gets steep.

Leg 4 – Bacon Knob Aid Station to Hightop (7km)

Go up Long Ridge all the way to Pulpit Rock. Watch out for cut stumps and the gorse and broom on Long Ridge. After about 3km you reach the intersection with the Silverpeaks Track just below Pulpit Rock (730m). This is your second ‘summit’ (almost) so enjoy the view! TURN RIGHT on to the Silverpeaks track and follow it down Green Ridge about 4km to Hightop and another aid station.

This section is the jewel in the crown in terms of stunning views, single track, and native bush as well as exceptionally changeable weather. It could be really hot. It’s much more likely to be really really cold! The track is technical in spots so please slow down to enjoy the views so you don’t fall off. Photo stops are a good idea too. Watch out for trampers and be nice.

Leg 5 – Hightop Aid Station to Swampy Summit (6km)

From Hightop run along Swampy Ridge track which passes through some manuka scrub and about 2km of fairly muddy track. Remember those smashed quads? They will be really useful hopping through some ankle deep mud sections before climbing through tussock and flax up to Swampy. The track opens out on to the 4WD road at the Northern Swampy Tower, follow the road past the alien looking Doppler installation that marks your 3rd summit and highest point at 739m. Carry on until the markers turn you left to join the standard Three Peaks course and the Swampy aid station at the Southern tower. 

Leg 6 – Swampy Summit Aid Station to Leith Valley Aid Station (5km)

Faster runners will probably catch some of the 26km runners from now on. Follow a bit of the Leith Saddle track down the hill and then through the flax chute through to the Pylon 4WD, turn left and you can fly down this bit until the end where you enter the Morrisons Burn Track. This has some steep muddy downhill sections – enjoy gravity and the trees to catch hold of. It’s not long, then you are on a forestry access road that leads you on to Leith Valley. Only one more mountain to climb! Run 1.8km up Leith Valley Rd to the aid station just over the overhead bridge.

Leg 7 – Leith Valley Aid Station to Mt Cargill (4km)

A right turn from here takes you into a beautiful little track that leads into some Narnia like forest tracks and some 4WD roads. Follow the markers and you will come up on to Cowan Road. Turn left and carry on up to the summit of Mount Cargill (676m) and the last aid station.

Leg 8 – Mt Cargill Aid Station to Chingford Park (6km)

From Mt Cargill summit you get to enjoy gravity once again with a 4km descent down some single track to Bethune’s Gully. There’s only about 2 km on the flat after this so you may as well completely destroy whatever remains of your quads on this descent. Follow the road out onto Norwood Street. Run down Norwood for about 1km then turn right into Tannadice St and left into Dryden St, over the footbridge and into Chingford Park for the sprint finish across the sports ground to the sounds of hearty cheers!

Well done! You deserve a medal!

Course Map and Elevation Profile

54km profile