Big Sunday Runs (BSR)

Big Sunday Run Group of Wellington

We had a chat with Chris Martin who is the main man behind Big Sunday Runs (BSR) based in Wellington. BSR brings together a tough breed of trail/mountain running enthusiasts who prefer the rugged off the beaten track mountain missions. They have a soft spot for the Tararua Mountain range in the North Island close to Wellington. Here’s their story.

Can you tell us a bit about Big Sunday Runs (BSR) and its history?

The Big Sunday Run (BSR) group was initially a group of friends who got together for long runs in the hills. Primarily we would do long half day to day missions away from the usual popular running routes.

Initially we emailed each other to organise runs. Then it became a bit harder to manage when emails threads got broken into separate conversations. A few unintended consequences of people getting bombarded with emails became a bit too regular and some also missed out on a few occasions.

One of our regulars suggested a group based conversation would suit better and we could create a Facebook group to organise the Sunday runs. It really grew from there. I was quite adamant that a Facebook group would never take off – but I am happy that I was wrong. We’ve grown into a great community of like minded adventurers and attracted new people to join. Now we have a place where we can post when someone of the group is going for a ‘mission’ and others can join in. We also post photos from various places the group members have been to.

BSR crew on a mission

BSR crew on a mission (Photos supplied)

What makes the BSR different to other running groups?

It’s a place for the types who like rugged off the beaten track mountain missions. It’s meant to Inspire, Encourage and collaboration (when going on missions) between like minded runners who prefer adventures. It is definitely not the place to discuss your first half marathon or what type of shoes to buy for running.

Our group encourage everyone to access our amazing wilderness around Wellington and beyond. We actively aim to help teach navigation, map reading skills to new members of the group when in the back country plus give them the confidence that with a bit of planning they can also follow in the footsteps of those before and have their own epic adventures.

We have heard that some really famous (ultra) runners have come to run with BSR – can you tell us a bit about these famous runners?

Hmm not sure who? I wanted to invite Bear Grylls to one of the missions when he was in Wellington but people suggested he would stop too much and eat grubs etc and people needed to get back by 3pm and his endless natter would take too much time.

Actually we have a range of people in our group who have done some epic adventures on their own right – Jean Beaumont, Tim Sutton and the like are really encouraging and inspire others to go on their own adventures. Recently we had a few of our regulars attempt The Revenant Ultra Endurance event in the South Island. (Jean Baumont, Tim Sutton & Alastair Shelton)

There are also some from the BSR who go “all in” for FKT (Fastest Known Time) records in the Tararuas. There’s a web site we maintain of these missions and also as a record of what they encountered etc. Check out

These guys follow in the footsteps of big names like the late Colin Rolfe who was a legend of the Tararuas.

I think everyone at BSR are famous in their own way.

Tim Sutton - prominent famous BSR Adventurer

Tim Sutton – prominent famous BSR Adventurer (Photo supplied)

Another famous BSR member – Chris Swallow the mountain man (goat?) – (Photo supplied)

You are involved in organising a few unique events other than BSR – what are they and what can you tell us about these events?

Yes a few which are what I call ‘not for the weak’ – I’ve sort of inherited a few over the years from various people.

The key events are.

  • Aorangi Undulator (1 day) and Aorangi Undulator 100, (a 100km 3 day race) starting in Eastbourne and finishing at Waikuku Lodge in the Aorangi forest park. Both events are set around the rugged coast near south-east of the Wairarapa. Usually in November. For more information see >
  • Mukamuka Munter – The Mukamuka Munter is a 30km adventure run through stunning coast and mountain landscape. It starts on the coast at Turakirae Head and follows the coastline before entering the canyon-like Mukamuka Valley. The course continues over the south saddle of Mt Mathews and enters the Remutaka Forest proper in the Orongaronga valley. After a major river crossing and several Km’s of bush track, it exits at Catchpool Stream. Web site >
  • Mt Victoria Winter Solstice race – run up and down jump in at Freyberg for bonus points (extra bonus for strip down jump – usually advertised via Running Meetup)
  • Belmont Rogaine of Fury – it’s usually in August and advertised via Facebook.

And the next big one I am planning is the Akatarawa Ultra… hopefully if it all works out we could have this going this year (2019). Currently in early planning stages for a 100 miler 100k and 50k.

Chris Martin (red jacket) – adventurer, race organiser and everything in between (Photos supplied)

What’s the advice you’d give a relatively new runner who’d want to tackle one of your events?

Most of the events are very rugged and hilly so learn how to walk fast uphill and learn to micro jog, Take heaps of food that you prefer and practical to eat on the go. Just push on and accept discomfort and learn to be adaptable. When you have mentally accepted that, you are mostly there. People are far more capable than they think and stronger than they think. Other than that knowing how to use a compass and use maps is compulsory (or rather recommended if you don’t wont to get lost).

My advice for those who want to give our group a go, is to try some of the Tararua routes to start with and go with a few people that you know and as you get familiar with terrain and the difficulties you’ll find what makes you tick. Check out the site for inspiration.

Tararuas on a good day

Tararuas on a good day

Tararuas on a good day (Photo by Run Wellington)

You’ve been a runner for a long time, what can you tell us about your running achievements of the past and your future goals as a runner?

Yeah I’ve been around the running scene for a while. Done some faster running in my time including a 16:10 5km PB, a 1:15 half marathon and multiple marathons under 3 hours. That’s all in the past though.

I’d like to do a Valleys SK or a Main Range S-K (Schormann to Kaitoke) which is an epic mission that I’ve wanted for a while. [ ]

Plus tick off all the huts in the Tararua range. Outside of Tararuas I’ve got too many on my list such as Traverse Sabine circuit (Nelson Lakes), Mt Tapi (Tapuae-o-Uenuku) which is the highest New Zealand peak outside the Southern Alps. Some missions in the Ruahine ranges, like I said too many.

I’m nowhere near the mental toughness level of some of the legends in our group. They are mentally very tough and experienced in what they do.

Big Sunday Runs - Wellington

Big Sunday Runs – Wellington

More information about BSR and their adventures:
Big Runs
Tararua FKT Site
You’ll need to be ‘mission ready’ to be accepted to the Facebook Group.