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2014 Routeburn Preview

Routeburn-2014-logo-edit-1-300x176The 2014 Routeburn Classic is almost upon us and as always it promises to be another great race. The event has it all and I struggle to name another race in New Zealand, especially in the sub marathon distance that is better.

32km, 1200mD+, stunning scenery in Fiordland and Aspiring National Parks, with a trail that is technical and smooth. Throw in almost any weather you like (I have run in rain, snow and sun the 3 times I have raced it) and you have a race that pretty much ticks all the boxes and has enough of everything to appeal to everyone.

Personally the Routebrn is the race that really got me motivated to training hard a few years ago and I can’t wait to race it again after missing the last 2 years. Evan McWhirter always puts on a top event and it is no wonder the race is a regular sell out.

Over the years many top trail runner have cut their teeth at  the Routeburn, with the likes of Richard and Elena Ussher, Phil Wood, Whitney Dagg and Braden Currie all having a crack at the race, meaning it is a great yard stick in New Zealand trail/mountain running.

Men’s Race

Nick crossing the Route Burn.

Nick crossing the Route Burn.

Nick Hirschfeld (Inov-8) will be the one to beat when the gun goes off at the Divide on Saturday. Nick has twice gone under the Routeburn course record, but both times finished 2nd- making him the fastest person to never win the race. Most recently was in 2012 when he finished behind Braden Currie, running 2hr47. But it has not all been smooth sailing- last year Nick bombed out, running 3hr25 (the race was won last year by Luke Hurring in 3hr03). But still, Nick is hands down the one to beat and is in good form, recently winning the Loop the Lake in the Nelson Lakes.

Geoff Williamson’s name is not on the start list, but we hear he is going to be racing. Geoff won the Luxmore Grunt at the start of summer, had a strong showing at the Challenge Wanaka and a few  weekends ago finished 2nd in the Three Peaks Mountain Race in Dunedin.

Grant Guise (La Sportiva/Ultimate Direction) (yeah, I am dropping my own name in here….) clocked2hr53 in 2010, but that is a long time ago. A good run 3 weeks ago at the 75km Buffalo Stampede has left me tired and tenderized.

Women’s Race

Victoria Beck (Nike) set the woman’s course record last year with a blistering 3hr25mins and returns as the race favourite. Vic recently moved to Australia, so has been missing from the running scene here over the summer, so hard to know what kind of form she is in. But Vic is all class, so expect her to bring her A game to the Divide on Saturday morning.

Sarah winning this years Motatapu Marathon

Sarah winning this years Motatapu Marathon

Sarah Douglas (New Balance/Outside Sports) won the Motatapu Marathon in March and then a few weeks ago took out the Athletics New Zealand Mountain Running Champs on Mt Campbell. The climbs will not cause any issues for Sarah and the fast running out from Routebrun flats should suit her also.

Jess Simpson (Salomon Running) has had an epic summer! She broke Ruby Muir’s course record at The Goat, dominated the Coast to Coast multi sport race (beating former Routeburn course record hold, Elena Ussher) and is “fresh” off an adventure race win in China. I talked with Jess months ago and she was excited about the Routeburn then, so I expect her to be bringing her A game. (Jess is not on the start list- but we understand she will start)

Got to say I am pretty excited to see how the women’s race plays out and it is great to see a strong women’s field this year- it is much more interesting and stronger than the men’s field and that is refreshing to say the least!

The official start list is HERE- check it out and let us know if we have missed anyone who you think might be in the mix.


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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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