Altra Running New Zealand Team Member Sarah Douglas shares her thoughts ahead of Saturdays New Zealand Mountain Running Champs, that will be held on the slopes of Ben Lomand, above Queenstown.
Sarah won the 2014 Athletics New Zealand Mountain Running Champs at Mt Campbell, in Nelson and this will be her first serious race back after having most of 2015 off with injury.
On the eve of the New Zealand Mountain Running Champs I find myself wondering what is the beauty of this annual event. It’s not just the view from the top. Although that is pretty awesome. The race finishes at the Ben Lomond Saddle with breath-taking views over Queenstown and Moonlight Country. On your way up is a mixture of dirt roads and single tracks, forest areas and open areas, steady gradients and leg burner gradients, with a bit of technical thrown in as well. I might be a bit biased (I do live on the doorstep of Ben Lomond) but in my opinion, this is the best mountain running course New Zealand has ever had.
Each year alternates between an uphill only and an up and down. This year being an uphill only there are very few opportunities in the race for runners to recover on downhills. Which probably means the looks on our faces as we try to run as fast as possible up a mountain will not be a thing of beauty. But if you can look beyond our faces, there is something very beautiful about watching an efficient runner race uphill at speed. Runners must conquer the mountain as well as their rivals.
Because mountain running is a mixture of speed and strength, it brings together all kinds of runners. Runners from cross country, track, road and off-road from 800m to marathoners and ultras. All together in one race. And that really is a thing of beauty.
Sarah training on Ben Lomand.