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Helen Rountree pre WMRC Interview

Helen Rountree,  an ED nurse in Hamilton and member of the Hamilton Hawks qualified for the New Zealand mountain running team and the 28th World Mountain Running Champs this weekend after a solid run at the NZ Champs in Motueka back in April. We managed to catch up with Helen before she took off for Italy and before the Trofeo Rifugio Scarpa in the Dolomiti mountains, Italy, a 5.5km and 650m+ uphill mountain race that Helen won in 41min02 this past weekend.

Helen(R), with fellow NZ Mt Running team member Sally Gibbs, relaxing in the Dolomiti mountains

BCR- Helen, congratulations on being selected for the world mountain running champs- how has your build up to the champs been going?
Helen Rountree -Thanks. My build up has been really good. I’ve been having to drive to a lot of destinations for training sessions as hamilton is actually rather flat. Te Aroha was a favorite place to go but they’re doing some mining or some work on it now so we weren’t allowed up the road access to the trig. that was disappointing as it was probably the longest, consistent hill I had to train on that flogged the legs. I don’t really know what to expect so you get that niggling thought in your head about “have you trained enough”,…”how much should I have been doing” but I’ve trained as hard as I’ve been able to around my work.
BCR- Can you give us a little background- how did you get into Mt Runnning and your progression to representing NZ?
HR-I’ve always enjoyed hills and it seemed to be a strength whenever road relays or something with the club involved a hill. Queen of the Mountain race at Mount Maunganui is a favourite race of mine so after that last year Barry Ellis, who was the nz team manager, said to enter nationals with a shot of making the NZ team. The race at Motueka to make the team was extremely brutal. Certainly didn’t enjoy it but that’s the good thing about racing is you always tend to forget how awful you felt and look forward to the next event. hehe.
BCR- Jono Wyatt is the team manager and lives in Italy- have you been in touch at all with Jono about what to expect racing in Italy? Do you know much about the course?
HR-Jono’s been awesome. He’s very thorough and for someone entering the event for the first time it’s comforting to know your manager has been there and done it a million times. we’ve seen race pictures which are now available on the website. It is raced between two villages and looks very scenic and very steep. The footing is variable but includes cobbles and gravel to grass and we race from 1250metres ASL to just under 2000m.
BCR- What are your expectations for the WMRC? Do you have a goal in mind?
HR-I expect it to be incredibly tough. I don’t want it to be as bad as Motueka but I’m not ruling it out. hehe. I have a few personal goals but I’m honestly unsure how I’ll go. Mountain Racing is absolutely huge over in europe and the talent is unreal, so it’s just going to be fun to compete alongside these runners. I’m looking forward to meeting Anna Frost who is in my team and hearing of her exploits everywhere around the circuit. I would expect her to do well so am looking forward to that.


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A Backcountry Running Community for New Zealand trail, mountain and ultra runners- We want this to be the place you come for all things trail running including race previews and reports, interviews with New Zealand runners and hopefully a whole lot more! Our aim is to provide as much original content- previews/reports/interviews on New Zealand trail, mountain and ultra races. We can't be everywhere- so feel free to get in touch if you have the scoop on a race or event.

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