2013 New Zealand Mountain Running Championships

The Athletics New Zealand Mountain Running Championships are taking place this weekend just outside Wellington and a solid line up of talent will be present. Luckily for BCR readers Stephen Day has written a nice little race preview.

(Stephen admits that this is a  ANZ club runners focused preview- as these are the runners he knows and has a good idea on current form. The Open men’s race also has the biggest field, but looking at the woman’s names Stephan has listed below, expect a great battle there also! Full start list HERE)

The New Zealand Mountain Champs in Wainuiomata are up-down this year (It alternates each year from up-down to up-up-up!). This years race traverses over the firebreaks between Wainui and Lower Hutt. I don’t know many of the mountain runners in the rest of the country, but here’s my Wellington-centric view of the senior men’s race:

  • Dougal Thorburn, just moved back from Dunedin – second at Wainui in 2009 and second recently at the national half marathon champs. A couple of weeks ago he won the Capital Punishment hill race up Mt Kaukau and beat Coubrough’s record from the previous year.

  • Glenn Hughes, won the Wainui race in 2009 and a perennial favourite. Probably hasn’t been doing much running recently but organised a mountain running training camp in Easter with Jono Wyatt so bound to come away fit from that.

  • Dougan Butler, surprised many with his win at Colonial Knob in 2011 then backed it up with a second place last year. Sounds like he comfortably won the Goat Kaimai a couple of weeks ago.

  • Former junior champion Ryan McAlister is stepping up to run seniors this year – he was a very impressive 14th at World Juniors last year in Italy.

  • Stefan Smith, coming off a track season, and a couple of week’s out from his debut marathon. Although he’s not a regular mountain runner, probably has some of the best pure speed of all the entrants – 14.39 for 5000.

  • Graham Pearce, Englishman who recently immigrated to Wellington. A traditional-style fearless fell-runner who was second to Dougal at Capital Punishment and to James Richardson at Mt Lowry.

  • Tane Cambridge representative for NZ at orienteering more times than I could shake a stick at as well as a regular among the leading runners in the Canterbury scene.

  • Chris McIlroy is also moving up from junior to senior this year and has some speed to be in the mix.

  • Dan Clendon, ran well on the Wainuiomata course in 2009 winning selection to the New Zealand team that then performed really well at Commonwealth Champs later that year. Won the Tararua Mtn race last month and just missed his own record winning the Mt Lowry extreme race a couple of weeks ago.

(Just looking through this list it seems to help your mountain running if you have a Scottish name.)


New Zealand Mountain Running Team in Italy last year- Left to Right: Glenn Hughes, Sally Gibbs, Dougan Butler, Ryan Mcalister, Helen Rountree – Photo: Jonathan Wyatt

Expect Glenn and Dougan to attack the ups, with Dougal, Dan and Graham attacking the downs. Dougal is a front-runner though who will push the pace early – which he did to his detriment at Wainui in 2009. The 12 km race will likely be decided between 6 and 8 km as the guys climb sharply up to the top of Te Whiti then down a steep firebreak (it drops nearly 200 metres elevation in the space of 840 metres) and then straight back up again.

The women’s 9km race avoids most of this firebreak so will likely involve different strategy. In the women’s race I don’t know the runners so well -

Sarah Biss and Sally Gibbs should be the class runners in the field, but former junior champion Nicole Mitchell is entered and it will be great to see Marjolein Cook and Helen Roundtree have another go after their strong debuts last year. Emily Solsberg, who represented Canada a few years ago, is also running.

Those names are predominantly all from the club-running community rather than trail-running community. It would be great to see a few trail runners giving the event a crack too in future years – mountain running seems to be the point where the two communities intersect.


Event Map
Senior Men, Masters Men 35-49 12 K (Garmin Map)
Junior Men, Senior Men 50+, Senior Women, Masters Women 9K (Garmin Map)
Junior Women (Garmin Map)

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