New Zealand’s Ruth Croft showed her class in winning the 51km Ultra Run at Macpac Motatapu, setting a new race record at the iconic event in the Queenstown Lakes District, in the most competitive Ultra Run field in the event’s history.
Last year’s winner and previous record holder Lucy Bartholomew (AUS) came home in second place, with another Kiwi star Anna Frost finishing third.
“After ten years away, it’s great to be home,” said Croft. “The course was so stunning. I didn’t really have any expectations, I just wanted to get out there and test my fitness, but to have the chance to race against Lucy was cool, we don’t often get a chance to race together.”
Trouble with nutrition and a wrong turn meant Bartholomew didn’t have the repeat record breaking performance she was hoping for.
“The first 20km was awesome, it was Ruth and I and a bunch of guys, but then Ruth just put the hammer down and showed me how it was done. It was a tough day, but I love this course, the support from the Mountain Bikers is amazing and really unique.
“Racing with Ruth is awesome. We are both competitive females and love to push each other to do better, so it’s great to have the chance to race against each other.”
In the XTERRA Triathlon it was a third victory for Wanaka athlete Dougal Allan. The expected battle between Allan and good mate Braden Currie didn’t eventuate, with Currie not making the start line, leaving Allan to dominate the race and add another title to his 2015 and 2017 victories.
With the course changing from previous editions to this time include the 8.5km Sawpit Trail instead of the 15km Miners Trail, Allan established a benchmark of 3:22:47 over the new distance.
“My biggest competition was the terrain,” said Allan. “It is a tough honest course and that is the first time I have done that run, it is shorter but no less difficult than the previous run and there is no let up to the finish line, anyone that can do that swim bike run today deserves their medal.
“Macpac Motatapu has a huge profile, and rightly so, it is one of the biggest races in the country and what I love about it is the finish line where people of all ages and backgrounds come together having gone through different journeys to get here, it is one of the races I look forward to most each year.”
After a mechanical took Allan out of last week’s Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain IRONMAN New Zealand, he admits to being on edge through most of the bike ride today.
“Anytime I heard a little squeak or a hiss I had a little panic, worried that my bike might be doing it to me again, but no, I had no issues today, everything went smoothly, and it was great to see the finish line.”
Paul Wright took out a dramatic win in the men’s SKODA Mountain Bike race, but only after stopping to check on Tim Rush who crashed while leading with approximately 15km to go, in the process ripping his seat off completely and damaging his front wheel. Rush remounted though and continued to the finish, coming home just 17 seconds behind Wright.
Wright was quick to acknowledge Rush’s misfortune but was delighted with the win in such an iconic event.
“The course was good, pretty grassy in the middle, but all good. When we started climbing to the top of the pass it was pretty cold and the rivers make it even colder. Tim and I were together and then he had a pretty big crash and I was quite worried, he ripped off his seat, I stopped and helped him, he seemed all good. Fair play to him, he is a weapon.”
Kate Fluker made it seven wins in the ŠKODA Mountain Bike at Macpac Motatapu as the Queenstown rider looks to return to her best ahead of a trip to America and Europe for World Cup Cross Country racing.
“It was cold this morning, it didn’t really warm up until the sun hit us in the valley, but it is always an epic day here and reminds me why I love mountain bike riding actually, the grass bits through the middle were challenging, but otherwise it was good times.”
In other events on the day, Joe Mann (Great Britain) took out the men’s Ultra Run; Paties Alizue won the women’s XTERRA in a tick under four hours; Vajin Armstrong and Cecilia Fori won the Off-Road Marathon; Maxime Lebouef and Tania McWilliams took out the Miners Trail and Benje Patterson and Kirsty O’Sullivan took out the new Sawpit Trail.
The event saw over 4,000 competitors take to the six different events, on a brisk autumn morning in the Queenstown Lakes District, with that chilly morning giving way to a warm afternoon.