Nothing easy about Mt Difficulty race

JO MCKENZIE-MCLEAN
Last updated 05:00 19/06/2014
Mt Difficulty
NOT EASY: Competitors hike up the front face of Mt Difficulty.

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Competitors of an inaugural Central Otago mountain race are praising organisers for not "shying away" from providing a technically challenging route up the front face of Mt Difficulty.

The Wild Earth Ascent, held in conjunction with the Goldfields Mining Centre Rustic Run on Saturday near Cromwell, attracted fields of 42 and 60 respectively.

Wild Earth Ascent marathon winner Grant Guise, 34, of Albert Town, completed the uphill marathon event in just over five hours, which included tackling 30-degrees slopes and two 1000 metre climbs over distances of about 3km.

"It's not like any other race I have done in New Zealand. The uphills were so steep - much steeper than anything I have done in New Zealand and the downhill was really technical. In sections there were parts I really didn't want to fall. Most events shy away from those technical aspects so it's refreshing to have something that was really hard."

Organiser Terry Davis said near perfect conditions were enjoyed by competitors and they were "thrilled" to have no injuries up the steep Mt Difficulty route.

"The weather was near perfect although a layer of high fog causes some problems following markers about a quarter of the way up the mountain."

Medic Ben Windrow, an ED doctor at Southland Hospital, said he and Brent Hollow from Junction Health Cromwell followed competitors up the Wild Earth Ascent route.

While there were no major incidents, a cold drop in temperature caused one man to cramp and become mildly hypothermic, while another got lost on the side of the mountain for about an hour.

"The first bit is constant climbing to the top on hands and knees ... you wouldn't want to be doing it if you were scared of heights."

While Wild Earth Ascent competitors were traversing steep hill country, Rustic Run competitors completed 5.275km laps of a track that attracted over 60 runners - one as young as 8, and others in their 70s, Davis said.

"The runners weren't actually in the fog but it did block out the sun to keep the temp pretty fresh. A wide range of competitors took park from junior high school kids to grandparents in their 70s. Feedback after the event was unanimously positive. It's just such an awesome location and great relaxed atmosphere."

Results: Goldfields Mining Centre Rustic Run Marathon men's champ - David O'Sullivan, of Wanaka (3:51); Goldfields Mining Centre Rustic Run Marathon women's champ - Tamsyn Hayes, of Dunedin (3:55); Goldfields Mining Centre Rustic Run Half Marathon men's champ - Alun Williams, of Queenstown (1:24); Goldfields Mining Centre Rustic Run Half Marathon women's champ - Veronika Palockova, of Queenstown (1:55); Wild Earth Ascent Marathon Champion Man - Grant Guise, of Albert Town, (5:10); Wild Earth Ascent Marathon Champion Woman - Tania Miller, of Alexandra (6:58); Wild Earth Ascent Half Marathon Champion Man - Andrew Town, of Wanaka (2:16); Wild Earth Ascent Half Marathon Champion Woman - Jane Guise (wife of Grant), of Albert Town (3:10).

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- The Southland Times

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