Douglas sets new Routeburn record

Sarah Douglas on the Harris Saddle during the Routeburn Classic.
Sarah Douglas on the Harris Saddle during the Routeburn Classic.

Queenstown's Sarah Douglas set a new women's record when she won the Routeburn Classic on the weekend.

Her time of 3hrs16mins48sec on the rugged 32km course was four minutes ahead of Wanaka's Jess Simson, after a tough battle.

The lead passed between the women several times on the course with Simson putting in a "mountain goat" performance on downhill parts of the course, Douglas said.

"When we got to the final 7km on the flat she had a minute and a half on me, so at about 4km out I passed her."

Douglas was always going to be a title contender after winning the 42km Icebreaker Off-Road Marathon during the Motatapu event in March and the Athletics New Zealand Mountain Running Champs on Mt Campbell.

The men's race was tighter with Canterbury-based Nick Hirschfeld beating Wanaka's Grant Guise over the line by only 13 seconds.

"Grant gave me a hell of a fright when he almost caught me with just 500m to go," Hirschfeld said.

"I knew he'd be strong at the finish because he's an ultra runner . . . but I wasn't going to let him get past me in the dying seconds of the race."

His winning time was 2:47:20.

Third place went to Craig Murray, 15, of Wanaka, son of biking and multisport legend Keith Murray, in a time of 2:58:59.

Highlights during the race included a flash mob haka by six Wakatipu High School students before the 320 runners at the start line.

The students were fundraising for the school's kapa haka group.

At the prizegiving 10-year veterans Podge Cochrane of Queenstown and Greg Wilkinson of Cromwell were presented with the Mark Douglas Perserverance Trophy.

The event's youngest-ever competitor Josh Platt, 11, of Wellington, won an Xbox One as a spot prize.

Main winners: Open men: Nick Hirschfeld 2.47.20 Open Women: Sarah Douglas 3.16.48 Masters Men: Steve Mackie 3:20:54 Masters Women: Susan Fleming 4:07:23 Legends Men: Roland Meyer 3:42:27 Legends Women: Korina Somerville 4:04:13 Gurus Men: Barry Mackie 4:10:56 Gurus Women: Trish Fraser 7:15:05 


The Southland Times