Jiang, Ramonas triumph in Motatapu ultra

Nancy Jiang wins the Motatapu women's ultra marathon on Saturday. PHOTO:TIM BARDSLEY-SMITH
Nancy Jiang wins the Motatapu women's ultra marathon on Saturday. PHOTO:TIM BARDSLEY-SMITH
Shoulder-to-shoulder battles over 51km of rugged country were the order of the day at the Motatapu ultra run on Saturday.

Ewan Cameron wins the Motatapu men's off road marathon at Motatapu yesterday. PHOTO: FINISHERPIX...
Ewan Cameron wins the Motatapu men's off road marathon at Motatapu yesterday. PHOTO: FINISHERPIX.COM
Lithuanian Andrius Ramonas was eventually victorious in the men's race, finishing in 6hr 47min 42sec, just 2min 32sec ahead of Wanaka's Joe Cox. Australian Bastien Missud was third in 6hr 58min 48sec.

Queenstown's Nancy Jiang had an equally tough fight against fellow Queenstown runner Laura Reidy in the women's race. Jiang finished in 7hr 30min 45sec, just under 10min ahead of Reidy. Dunedin's Rose Pearson was third in 7hr 55min 3sec.

Jiang, who is Chinese-born but represents New Zealand, had won the arduous Shotover Moonlight Marathon last month, the Kepler Challenge in December, and placed 15th at the 2018 World Mountain Running Championships.

She was, though, taken aback by the hills in the Motatapu Valley, between Wanaka and Queenstown, particularly the first.

"That was tough, a really tough day," she said.

"It was so steep I was like, `I don't know how I am going to do four of these', but I finally found my groove halfway through and I pushed it up the last hill and I knew after that it is downhill, and then just to get through the river crossings."

Ramonas (37) has proved himself a trail runner to be reckoned with during his five years living in New Zealand.

"I think at the end it was a bit of a tactical battle," he said.

"Pretty much from the start I could see Joe. I closed the gap with me and another runner in the first hour and then we pretty much stuck together ..."

Ramonas saved his legs for the final, flatter 7km, using his road-running skills to push the pace.

Ultra-running superstar Lucy Bartholomew had to pull out of the race after a fall.

But the gutsy competitor did not let that stop her running the Motatapu off-road marathon yesterday.

She finished second, behind Briton Laura Siddall, who finished fourth in Ironman New Zealand in Taupo last week and also rode the Motatapu mountain bike race on Sunday.

Siddall finished the 42km marathon in 3hr 26min 56sec, Bartholomew in 3hr 39min 56sec, with Australian Claire Rayner third in 3hr 42min 50sec.

Briton Ewan Cameron won the men's race in 3hr 22sec, ahead of Christchurch's Vajin Armstrong in 3hr 35sec - the 13sec gap the tightest in the event's history.

Oamaru's Hamish Elliot was third in 3hr 7min 3sec.

On Saturday, couple Kyle Ward (27) of Australia and Commonwealth Games 2018 Kiwi competitor Samara Sheppard (28) won the men's and women's 47km mountain bike races.

Ward finished 1hr 56min 56sec, head of Tim Rush (NZL), in 2hr 1min 30sec and Paul Wright (NZL) 2hr 5min 54sec.

Flavio Vianna, of Christchurch, won the Xterra triathlon, swimming 2km, biking 47km and running 8.5km in 3hr 39min 9sec, while fellow Cantabrian Emma Weston was quickest female in 4hr 41min 28sec.

Race records were set by male and female winners of both the 15km Miners Trail, Bannockburn's Richard Fox (in 1hr 11min 33sec) and Queenstown's Sarah Douglas (in 1hr 19min 39sec), and the 8.5km Sawpit Trial, by Queenstown's Benje Patterson (37min 18sec) and Christchurch's Catherine Calverley (in 48min 54sec).

 

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