Athletics: Currie too hot for rivals

Routeburn Classic women's winner Whitney Dagg, of Dunedin, crosses the Harris Saddle during the...
Routeburn Classic women's winner Whitney Dagg, of Dunedin, crosses the Harris Saddle during the ninth annual race around a rugged 32km course on Saturday. Dagg broke Elina Ussher's 2006 course record by 3min 30sec. Photo supplied.
Records toppled following Saturday's ninth Routeburn Classic, with more than 300 runners traversing the rugged 32km course in a race eventually won by Wanaka's Braden Currie.

Perfect weather conditions for the race, beginning at The Divide on Milford Rd, crossing the Fiordland National Park over the 1127m Harris Saddle and finishing in the Mt Aspiring Park near Glenorchy, enabled Currie to smash the record in the male category.

He finished in 2hr 44min 29sec, just over 5min faster than the 2011 record time.

Currie was 3min ahead of second placegetter Nick Hirschfeld, of Auckland, who finished in 2hr 47min 34sec, with Wellington's Glen Hughes third in 2hr 51min 24sec.

Defending women's champion Whitney Dagg, of Dunedin, made it two in a row when she took top honours in the women's race, breaking Elina Ussher's 2006 record by 3min 30sec when finishing in 3hr 26min 30sec.

Second female home was Helen Gillespie, of Hokitika, in 3hr 31min 53sec. She was also the first masters woman in the 40 to 50-year-old category. Alexandra's Claire Corbett was third in 3hr 44min 44sec.

The first male in the masters division, Michael Stone, of Queenstown, achieved his hat trick of masters titles even though he was beaten on time by legends division winner Colin Earwaker, of Rotorua.

Currie and Dagg are cousins, so were delighted to join each other at the finish line with a celebratory hug.

Currie (25), who has only recently returned to racing following the birth of his son three years ago, said the Routeburn Classic win had topped off an "amazing" summer of events.

"I came third in the one-day individual Coast to Coast, won the Wanaka half ironman breaking the record by about 11 minutes, and I've also been in the Motatapu and Godzone events.

"I did the Routeburn about four years ago and came second, so I thought I was in with a good chance.

"I was leading straight off the bat after the first couple of hundred metres so I just kept going and pushed all the uphills because I know my strength is technical downhill running.

"I'm stoked, really happy with the result. It's a beautiful race and I'll probably be back next year."

Currie said it was "very special" to see his cousin winning her division.

Because he had to return to Wanaka to take care of his son, he could not attend the prizegiving ceremony, so asked Dagg's father, Chris, who came last overall, to collect his award.

Organiser Evan McWhirter, of Good Times Events, said it was a "nice touch" to have the last-placed man collecting the price for the fastest man.

"It was another brilliant weekend, with conditions perfect for record setting and views from all over the track.

"No-one can believe that I keep on consistently picking good windows of weather for the race, and the conditions we had yesterday were the reasons I believe these records will stand for some time."


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