Athletics: Thorburn, Douglas take Mountain Running titles

Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

Dougal Thorburn of Wellington Scottish and Sarah Douglas of Christchurch Avon were the victors in the senior races at the New Zealand Mountain Running Championships in Queenstown on Saturday.

Thorburn, the defending national champion eased away from the field to take another Senior men's title by a big margin of six minutes from Caden Shields of Hill City University and fellow Scottish clubmate Niam MacDonald.

"I took it easy the first couple of loops, that was the plan and then with two loops to go I thought let's go, I'm out of here," said Thorburn.

"It was just superb, I just loved it," said Thorburn of the course. "The festive atmosphere here was great."

Queenstown local Douglas was too strong in the women's race, coming away with the victory in the 7km event by nearly three minutes from the Hill City duo Shireen Crumpton and Sabrina Grogan.

Douglas had based most of her training on and around the Ben Lomond mountain and victory was particularly sweet after a tough 2015, with injury keeping her out of competition for much of the year.

Jack Beaumont of Winton went back to back, claiming the U20 Men's race, defending his title by three minutes from Tommy Hayes of Auckland City Athletics and another Winton runner Alan Woodford.

Emerson Deverell of Hamilton City Hawks claimed one back for the North Island in the U20 Women's division, just holding on in a tight battle with Sophie Smith from Athletics Nelson and Hannah Miller from Gore.

Strong performances in the masters races included Stephen Day of Wellington Scottish with a dominant performance in the Masters Men's 40 category over Sjors Corporaal and Richard Ussher and good battle in the Masters Women's 40 division between Paula Canning, Jackie Mexted and Elina Usher.

Canning was the victor by less than a minute from the hard charging Mexted with Ussher matching her husband's bronze medal Usher.

Wet weather in Queenstown through the week and on race day meant organisers had to revert to a contingency course which kept athletes off the upper reaches of the mountain where conditions were not conducive to safe racing. This meant a course with a fast downhill section which played into the hands of speed exponents.

Despite the conditions, the Championships were hailed as a success by entrants, there were around 100 entries for the Championship grades, with Non-Championship races attracting another 50.

- NZ Herald

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