What an amazing day and the festival activities provided a wonderful build up to the main race. With 80 runners circling around the centre of town doing their warmups and last minute loo breaks the crowd packed the sides of the street to get a look at this years brave contestants. In customary fashion each runner was introduced to the crowd during the 30 minute lead up to the start gun.
Just before 2:30pm, long time race director Barry Stewart stood in front of the pshyced up runners and gave last minute race instructions before stepping clear of the impending start line stampede. As Barry moved off the road he did so to a tremendous round of applause by all runners, officials, spectators and volunteers as they signalled a heart felt thankyou to the many decades of leadership Barry has given to the mountain race. Barry, we salute you.
The start sequence was initiated and then the runners were off. The initial fast paced start was spearheaded by Ryan Crawford and Mitch Lindbeck as they lead the rest of the field around the first corner to cheers from the crowd. Kiwi runner Daniel Jones was in quick pursuit and took the lead and gradually extended it to have an 18 second lead at the base of the mountain over multiple time winner Ben Duffus who was closely followed by reigning champ Mark Bourne. The Queen of the mountain category was being led by Meg Reeves who was closely followed by Reesha Lewis.
At the base of the stairs Ben Duffus had taken the lead over Daniel Jones who now had Mark Bourne breathing down his neck. By mid way up the mountain most runners had settled into the pain and were doing what they could to keep putting one foot in front of the other as quickly as possible. Where the track veers off slightly to the right near the top (to keep congestion to a minimum for down runners who come down a few meters off to the side), Ben Duffus was in a commanding lead with Mark Bourne now in second and Daniel Jones in third.
Ben Duffus arrived at the top of the mountain in a time of 14:37, 14 seconds ahead of Niel Labinskys 2009 race record run. Mark Bourne hit the top in 15:11 and Daniel Jones in 15:46. Quick starter Ryan Crawford was still holding on to 4th place in a time of 17:27 with Boaz Clark having closed the gap to within 10 seconds of him after posting a sub 12 minute ascent from base to top. Leading male veteran, the always smiling (mustn't be working hard enough) New Zealander Dennis De Monchy arrived at the top in a time of 18:11 giving him a 30+ second buffer over Trevor Allen. Meg Reeves was the first female to reach the top in a time of 18:57. Big movers on the mountain ascent from base to the top were Ken Livingston (+28 places), Ben McMullen (+29 places), Hubertien Wichers (+22 places), Mich Dargan (+20 places).
The descent saw some speedy performances with 3 sub 5 minute times. Mitch Lindbeck set the field alight by passing 18 runners on his incredible run down the mountain with a summit to base time of 4:01. The second quickest descent time was Ben Duffus who took only 4:27 to reach the base and veteran Dan King taking 4:59. Reesha Lewis took only 5:10 as she smashed the descent and closed the gap between her and leading female Meg Reeves to 6 seconds. A 5:03 descent from Nick Scott set up an incredible battle to the finish with Joe Stephens. In a true demonstration of Kiwi teamwork Meagan Edhouse and Lee Barton worked closely together on the descent with some debate afterwards of who was helping who the most....well.....a picture speaks a thousand words. Nice work team.
With a 1:09 lead over Mark Bourne, Ben Duffus continued to push the pace to the finish line posting the quickest time from base to finish with a time of 4:26 giving him a winning time of 23:30 and giving him the King title for the third time. Mark Bourne finished second in a time of 24:42 and Daniel Jones finished third with a time of 25:50. Meg Reeves showed her speed on the race to the finish line as she took out the Queen title in a time of 30:47 with Reesha Lewis taking out second female place in a time of 31:46 and third place female, four time Queen, Kim Beckinsale in a time of 32:49. See full category results below.
Congratulations to ALL runners. Regardless of your race time, your position or your category position, everyone who shows up on the day and takes part in the race can hold their head high.
Sub 30 runners for 2018 are Ben Duffus, Mark Bourne, Daniel Jones, Ryan Crawford, Dennis De Monchy, Boaz Clark, Nick Scott and Joe Stephens.