The 8th annual Routeburn Classic , an exclusive adventure run staged on New Zealand’s world famous Routeburn Track, took place yesterday (Saturday April 30) in conditions described as ‘unbelievable and unprecedented’.
Former New Zealand junior mountain runner Bevan Stevens of Dunedin capitalised on the sunny, still, dry and warm conditions to be first across the finish line and to smash multisport champion Richard Ussher’s long standing record.
Stevens completed the rugged 32 kilometre course in just 2 hr 49 min 37 seconds, three minutes ahead of second placegetter, Auckland’s Nick Hirschfeld (2:52:38) and last year’s winner, Grant Guise of Christchurch (2:55:27) who took third place this year. (The previous race record, set in 2001 was 2:51: 57)
Dunedin’s Whitney Dagg took top honours in the women’s race finishing in 3:34:34 while Wanaka’s Kristina Crane was second (3:35:39) and Leah Hirschfeld of Auckland (3:38:52) finished third – leaving Elina Ussher’s 2006 record of 3:30:58 intact.
324 runners took part in the tough adventure race which starts at the Divide on Milford Road, crosses the Fiordland National Park, over the 1127 m Harris Saddle and finishes in the Mt Aspiring National Park near Glenorchy.
Organiser Evan McWhirter said the day was magnificent, the course majestic and the race exciting.
“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.
“People were talking about it being too hot and getting sunburned at the finish line! Even at the start line at 7am the weather was warm with no frost which is a first.
“The results are testament to the amazing conditions with some very quick times and history being made with Bevan’s new record time.
“I’d like to make special mention of Kristina Crane who was back after winning the women’s title in 09 and delivering her 1st baby on the actual day of the race in 2010. Her result this year was amazing finishing just a minute and a half behind Whitney.”
McWhirter is already looking ahead to next year.
“The Routeburn Classic is very much cemented as a highlight of the annual running calendar. It’s a true adventure run and provides a unique challenge for the adventure running community.”