Routeburn run returns

Routeburn Classic women’s winner Sarah Douglas crosses the Harris Saddle.
Routeburn Classic women’s winner Sarah Douglas crosses the Harris Saddle.
The Routeburn Classic was run on Saturday — the first time in four years — even if competitors had to stomach a dusting of snow.

In its 20th year, competitors run the 32km Fiordland National Park track in one day. The three previous events were cancelled due to weather and the 2020 floods that washed out the Milford Road and tracks.

Ten keen Australians, who booked last year, made it over by the skin of their teeth thanks to the transtasman bubble. There were 250 runners in the field.

Queenstown’s Sarah Douglas made it a double when she backed up her win in 2014 with a placing at the top of the women’s field. Back in 2014 she set a new women’s record of 3hr 16min 48sec, but yesterday’s wet and slippery conditions led to her posting an extremely respectable 3hr 26min 14sec.

She was a full 10 minutes ahead of second placegetter Dahna Hunter.

Craig Fowler of North Vancouver, originally from the Bay of Plenty, crossed the finish line in 2hr 52min 1sec to take top male honours, with Martin McCrudden from Wellington just over seven minutes behind and Queenstown’s Hywel Dinnick third, another two minutes behind.

The theme for this year’s event was 1980s athletics gear, one that was proudly embraced by race organisers and many runners.

The competitors in the middle of the pack had to endure a light dusting of snow at the top of the Harris Saddle.

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