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New Course Popular and Well Received



New Course Popular and Well Received

115 runners and trampers lined up at Arthurs Pass to compete in the Shoe Clinic Avalanche Peak Challenge 2014 on the new course. Organisers decided this year to introduce the new format to make the course more appealing to a greater cross-section of mountain adventure runners and trampers.

Competitors ascended Avalanche Peak on the Avalanche track and then returned to the start line in Arthurs Pass via Scott’s Track. The new course was approximately half the distance of the old traditional course and is proving to be a very popular option with a good hard climb to the top and fast descent down Scott’s Track onto the West Coast Highway and into Arthurs Pass, starting and finishing outside Arthur’s Chalet. The new format is not only proving to be popular with competitors but also the Arthurs Pass community.

This year a cold front moved through the area on Friday night and cleared early Saturday morning, only to start returning again later in the day. There were very strong winds on the tops and it was decided to take the competitors to the Low Peak and cut across under the summit onto Scott’s Track below the summit ridge. It showed that the new course format has flexibility to give alternatives in marginal weather – this was not possible on the old course format due to logistically problems of repositioning marshals.

The men’s race was a very close race to the top with a bunch led by Nick Smith from Christchurch, reaching the Low Peak in 48 minutes, closely followed by Chris Forne also from Christchurch and Nick Hann from Wellington. Lara Prince was first woman to the top, followed by Megan Martin.

Chris Forne cleared away from the rest of the field, finishing 1st in 1:10:32, descending Scott’s Track in an incredible 22 minutes. He was able to successfully stay clear of 2nd place Nick Hann who finished in 1:11:59, followed by Nick Smith and Matthew Scott who finished 3rd and 4th.

Previous champion Lara Prince was a clear winner in the women’s race, finishing in 1:28:59 with another previous champion Megan Martin from Kaiapoi, finishing in 1:35:22, followed by Dani Nicolson, Dunedin, and Nicky Waters, Christchurch, who finished 3rd and 4th.

The weather did hold out for the rest of the day with the winds not abating, but all competitors completed the course safely and all reported that they really enjoyed the day and the new course format. One female competitor twisted and broke her ankle and had to be evacuated by the rescue helicopter and flown back to Christchurch. The evacuation was very challenging in the windy conditions with the competitor having to be carried to the spot where the helicopter was able to eventually land on the mountain.

Race Director Chris Cox was very pleased with the way the new course worked and with the way last minute changes were able to be made due to the weather. He looks forward to further working with the Arthurs Pass community on again making this an important date on the mountain running calendar.


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