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Record tumbles at 15th annual Routeburn Classic

Record tumbles at 15th annual Routeburn Classic Adventure Run

The fact he had never walked – let alone run – New Zealand’s world-famous Routeburn Track didn’t deter mountain-running champ Jack Beaumont from blitzing the field in the Routeburn Classic Adventure Run.

The 19-year-old Queenstowner not only became the youngest ever winner of the race, but did it in 2hrs 37min 51sec, shaving an astounding six minutes off the previous record held by Welshman Hywel Dinnick.

Beaumont, who started mountain running just two years ago and recently won the New Zealand mountain running championships and the 3000m steeplechase title, said the 32km race was the ultimate trail race and “just right” for him.

“I’d planned to do a training run on the track but didn’t get around to it,” he said.

“It’s the most amazing race I’ve ever done, with perfect amounts of everything from uphill, technical sections and flat track, and you couldn’t have got a better day for it.”

In the lead from the start, Beaumont said he had no idea how close the field was behind him and only struggled with one rocky downhill section after the Harris Saddle.
“I took that pretty carefully and was concerned about slowing up too much because you can’t see how far behind you people are, but in fact I finished about five minutes ahead of the next guy.
“I’ll definitely be back some time to improve on my record whenever I’m in the country; it’s a pretty well-planned event with a really nice community feel to it.”
First place women’s runner Cecilia Flori from Italy, currently living in Hamilton, added to her ‘outsider but one to watch’ status with her win in 3:25:30.
In February this year the 36-year-old took pundits by surprise after coming third in the Tarawera Ultramarathon, where she revealed that she only took up running two-and-a-half years ago.
Not anticipating she would be fast enough to win the Routeburn Classic over it’s much shorter distance, she said she was “astounded” to have taken out top spot.
So sure was she that she wouldn’t win, she planned to run (and did 40k) of the Kepler Track today (the day after the Routeburn Classic) because she “just wanted to run”.
“I’d already run 80km this week so I went into the Routeburn Classic treating it as a hard training run,” she said. “I was in third place for quite a bit and my hamstring wasn’t very annoying, so around the 15k mark I was really only just warming up.
“I had to stop a few times to look at the waterfall and the lake because it was so beautiful, then I picked up the pace to take second place. I saw the front female runner t about the 4km mark so I really just went for it.
“That was really the most beautiful race I’ve ever run.”
Organiser Evan McWhirter said runners had had the complete opposite experience to last year when heavy rain and snow forced postponement of the race by a day.
“This was a bluebird day and I love it when a perfect plan comes together,” he said.
As with all of the Routeburn Classic events, there was a ‘theme’ for the day – this year’s being ‘the adventure fiesta’.
“All athletes received colourful rainbow festive hair in their race packs and a performance by The Muppets at the race briefing in Te Anau got them into party mode,” said McWhirter.
“We always place runners in categories and this year’s front runners were in the Muppets category just so at the end of the race we could say ‘who was the fastest muppet’.”
At the post-event medal presentation, ten five-year medals were handed out as well as the Decade Club Perseverance Cup and the first females joined that club – Korina Somerville from Winton (she won the womens’ legends) and Sally Nicholl from Dunedin who placed third.
Full results are here
Main results were:
1st Jack Beaumont (Queenstown) 2:37:51; 2nd Ryan Carr (Lumsden) 2:42:34; 3rd Don Channon (Wanaka) 2:49:40
1st Cecilia Flori (Hamilton) 3:25:30; 2nd Tania McWilliams (Christchurch) 3:27:07; 3rd Anna Fischer (Dunedin) 3:37:35

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