Three Peaks Mountain Race

3P headerThree Peaks Mountain Race report and photos by Russell Hurring

Why sleep in on a cold and rainy Sunday morning when there is mud to run in? The questionable logic perhaps, of the 250 runners and walkers who lined up in Dunedin’s Leith Valley on Sunday to tackle Dunedin’s skyline peaks of Flagstaff (668m), Swampy Summit (739m) and Mt Cargill (676m) in the 30th running of the Three Peaks Mountain Race. It starts less than 3km from the centre city Octagon and finishes at the Leith Clubrooms in peaceful Chingford Park a mere 3km further away, but the 26km of this race traverses terrain as rugged as any and the conditions on Sunday were brutal, testing concentration, grit and preparedness as much as fitness.

The Three Peaks is a wonderfully scenic run if you can take the time to look. But on Sunday being able to see far enough through the fog to confirm there were still shoes on both feet was as good as it got, and that was an essential check through several clay and boggy areas. On the exposed ridgeline sections that usually give the panoramic city views the cold gusty headwinds and fine driving rain conspired with the tricky footing to fell, strain, bruise or bloody the unwary. Truly a miserable day, so why were so many saying they had great fun out there? Strange lot – mountain runners!


Stafford emerging from the bush off the Swampy Summit descent

Senior men’s winner Stafford Thompson showed his intentions immediately, climbing strongly through the Ross Creek Reserve and on the gravelled Pineapple Track. By the time he had tackled the slippery Swampy Summit tracks and emerged from the bush on the descent he had a 3 minute advantage which he extended to over 8 minutes by race end. Similarly Louisa Andrew was in control of the women’s race by the Swampy descent and finished with an impressive 12 minute lead.

Stafford’s race was not without drama. About 3km from the finish he stumbled and fell while successfully avoiding a group walking dogs on the Mt Cargill track. He quickly got to his feet amid a tirade from the unscathed strollers and continued with bloodied knees. After finishing and warming up a little he noticed his hand becoming more and more painful. He is now sporting a plaster cast in the blue colour of the Leith Club who organise The Three Peaks.

Good to see BCR stalwarts Matt Bixley and Andrew Town and their team mates Vic Beck and Mel Aitken thrashing out the mixed team category, beaten by only one men’s team.

As Matt said in his preview Race Director Alan Funnell and his team did the extra yards on promotion and sponsorship this year and its pleasing to see them rewarded with a bigger field, and hopefully with that some protection for the future of this iconic race. The day may have been testing for competitors but they at least could run to stay warm. It must have been truly atrocious out there for officials and marshals whose warm and helpful spirits were mentioned several times at the prize giving. A huge thanks to all for exceptional race hosting in the worst of nature’s adversity.


Winning woman’s team member Merrilee Williams


1stStafford Thompson 2:06:53

2nd Phil Novis 2:15:34

3rd Jason Palmer 2:19:52


1st Louisa Andrew 2:33:43

2nd Tamsyn Hayes 2:45:52

3rdBridget Thompson 2:47:50


Full results available HERE


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