Athletics: Stevens sets record in Routeburn Classic

Whitney Dagg, of Dunedin, traverses the Harris Saddle during the annual Routeburn Classic on Saturday. Photo by MMPRO PHOTOGRAPHY.
Whitney Dagg, of Dunedin, traverses the Harris Saddle during the annual Routeburn Classic on Saturday. Photo by MMPRO PHOTOGRAPHY.

Bevan Stevens capitalised on perfect conditions to break a long-standing record in the Routeburn Classic on Saturday.

Stevens smashed multisport great Richard Ussher's record in the eighth running of the event.

The former New Zealand junior enjoyed the sun on his back and finished the rugged 32km course in 2hr 49min 37sec, more than 2min inside Ussher's mark.

Auckland's Nick Hirschfeld (2hr 52min 38sec) was second and defending champion Grant Guise (Christchurch, 2hr 55min 27sec) was third.

Dunedin's Whitney Dagg took the honours in the women's race, finishing in 3hr 34min 34sec, nearly 4min outside Elina Ussher's record.

Wanaka's Kristina Crane (3hr 35min 39sec) was second and Auckland's Leah Hirschfeld (3hr 38min 52sec) was third.

Nearly 330 runners took part in the tough adventure race, which started at the Divide on Milford Rd, crossed the Fiordland National Park, over the 1127m Harris Saddle, and finished in the Mt Aspiring National Park near Glenorchy.

Organiser Evan McWhirter said the day was "magnificent" and the course "majestic".

"The track was in prime condition, clear, dry and fast. We enjoyed clear blue skies with not a breath of wind. It was absolutely stunning and I think the best conditions we've ever had for this race."

The results were testament to the amazing conditions, he said.

McWhirter made special mention of Crane, who returned after winning the women's title in 2009 and having her first baby on the day of last year's event.