NZ Trail Running Championships, Port Hills
Weston Hill, winner of the Crater Rim Ultra in 2017, returned to claim the New Zealand title over the gruelling 53km around Port Hills in a race record time of 4:38:31. Scotty Hawker, who would normally be racing in Europe at this time of the year, was second in 4:47:01 with defending champion Vajin Armstrong third in 4:57:33 and Will Jones, third last year, fourth in 5:08:22.
“I’m really stoked to pull it off,” said Hill, who works as a mechanical engineer and represents Trentham United Harriers.
“There are some fast dudes here and I knew I would have to get it right on the day if I was to win the race.
“The lads went reasonably fast at the start and were testing each other out. We had a steady climb up Mt Herbert and I power-hiked away from the group in an effort to feel whether they would chase me but nobody did,” said Hill.
Nancy Jiang regained the women’s title after winning the inaugural national championship in 2018. Jiang also clocked a race record of 5:43:38, eclipsing Mel Aitken’s title win last year in 5:57:44. Katie Smith was second in 6:25:43 and Aitken third in 6:28:04, followed in by Kirstin Foley in 6:49:42.
“I felt really good,” said Jiang, despite her hampered preparation caused by a tendon tear in her foot in June.
“I was strong on the climbs and good on the descents – the ski touring must have worked. There was very little wind out there and it was super sunny. I even think coming from Queenstown it was a little hot!
“It is a really good feeling to win the national title and I’m just stoked to be out there running. We are in a really privileged position here in New Zealand,” she added.
30km; Ryan Carr 2:24:00, Steven Melton 2:34:59, Hayden Zervos 2:35:09. Meggie Bichard 3:06:20, Sarah Munro 3:07:11, Catherine Wilson 3:15:16. 22km; Richard Melton 1:45:35, Buddy Small 1:52:22, Edward Cromwell 1:58:34. Louise Darwin 2:05:12, Savanah Stewart 2:07:53, Fiona Gilroy 2:13:27. 10km; Kevin Grimwood 46:46, Matt Dawson 49:54, Lee Butts 51:09. Sarah Bryant 56:39, Holly Weston 1:01:31, Alice Walsh 1:02:44.
Athletics New Zealand Correspondent