Stomach bug can't stop title defence

Canberra runner Stuart Doyle made the long return trip worthwhile when he defended his Luxmore Grunt title on Saturday.

Doyle's training has been affected by a stomach bug but he again proved too good on the downhill for his competitors. He is now considering stepping up to the full Kepler Challenge.

"Maybe now that I've done my apprenticeship, I should do the real big race next year," he said.

Doyle finished just over four minutes ahead of Otautau's Richard Ford, whose own training had suffered after a recent car crash, but it didn't stop him improving on his third-placed finish in 2011.

Sixteen-year-old Joel Fletcher was third despite only really starting his training at the end of the football season.

Christchurch runner Jacqui Gee won the women's race from Australian mountain running representative Melissa Clarke, Australian Sadie Cranston finished third.

RESULTS Men Stuart Doyle (Canberra) 2:08:25 Richard Ford (Otautau) 2:12:55 Joel Fletcher (Invercargill) 2:18:51 Women Jacqui Gee (Christchurch) 2:33:11 Melissa Clarke (Australia) 2:36:51 Sadie Cranston (Adelaide) 2:39:14

The Southland Times