Jack Beaumont from Winton Athletics Club and Sabrina Grogan of Hill City-University are the 2017 New Zealand Mountain Running champions after commanding performances on a tough Ben Lomond course in Queenstown on Saturday.
After rain forced a course change in 2016, organisers were relieved when the weather dawned dry and cool on the slopes, near perfect running conditions to tackle the demanding ascent up Fernhill Gully.
In the men’s race Beaumont led from the front early and steadily built his lead, finishing the 11.8km course in 1:01:31 with just over five minutes back to Matthew Battley of Glen Eden who came home in 1:06:34 for second. Niam MacDonald (Wellington Scottish) took third in 1:10:19.
Beaumont took out the national steeplechase title last week in Hamilton and has focused heavily on mountain running in his training, including regular assaults on the Ben Lomond course.
“The race went exactly to plan, I took it out hard” said Beaumont.
“All the training’s paid off and I’m really happy with the result. I feel like I’m faster on the track when I train in the mountains too, so the timing has actually been great”, the Southland 19 year old added.
A change in regulations for 2017 meant the Senior Women raced over the same course as their male counterparts, and 23 year old Grogan took advantage of the change, showing her strength with a winning time of 1:16:10 that would have placed her just behind the leading men.
Silver in the Women’s race went to Tania McWilliams of University of Canterbury in 1:21:19 with Sharon Lequex (Leith Harriers) in third clocking 1:26:36.
In a tight Under 20 Women’s race, Sophie Smith of Athletics Nelson made her move late to snatch the title from defending champion Emerson Deverell (Hamilton City Hawks).
The Men’s Under 20 race was won by Hugh O'Donoghue of Athletics Wairarapa who was too strong for clubmate Jacob Karam.
Both senior winners, as well as several of the top under 20 athletes hope to be selected for the New Zealand Mountain Running team heading to Italy for the World Championships at the end of July.
In the masters grades Daniel Clendon from Wellington Harrier & Athletic Club held off fellow Wellingtonian Stephen Day (Scottish) in the men’s 35-49 grade and Marlborough’s Robbie Barnes, representing Athletics Nelson was the winner in the 50+ category.
Kerry Semmens (Athletics Nelson) was the Masters Women 35-49 winner with Bridget Ray of Hamilton City Hawks taking the 50+ race.