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The Routeburn Classic alpine adventure 2008

Evan McWhirter - 24/04/08

An eclectic and impressive field is promised for the iconic 38km Routeburn Classic alpine adventure run. Competitor interest is the highest yet, and this year's field is the most eclectic that organisers have seen since its inception; testament to its broad appeal.

The Routeburn Classic was established to provide a challenging and original event, giving competitors the opportunity to run in one of New Zealand's World Heritage Areas and National Parks. During the 38km alpine run, competitors travel over the famous Routeburn Track covering narrow paths up, descents alongside forests, waterfalls and over rivers.

Top multisporter Richard Ussher has confirmed his return to defend his title of fastest ever Classic runner, set in 2001 during a 2hr:51min:57sec finish. This will be his fourth time competing in the Classic.

Richard Ussher 2006 Classic winner
Richard Ussher 2006 Classic winner
Photo supplied by Good Times Events
Click here to view a larger version

Queenstown resident Jim Hawkridge, 2007 winner with a time of 2hr:58min:53sec, is also signed up to race and is relishing the chance to take on Ussher, who was unable to compete in 2007.

Jim Hawkridge 2007 Classic winner
Jim Hawkridge 2007 Classic winner
Photo supplied by Good Times Events
Click here to view a larger version

"Richard is one of the world's top mountain runners, so to get close to his time is really cool. It's great that he's taking part because that will really lift everyone's game, I think.

"My training is going well, I'm getting faster and I know what I need to do to break the three hour barrier down even further. Conditions on the day play a big part, but I know I can be faster on the flats, speed up some of the climbs and hopefully knock a few minutes off my best time," said Hawkridge.

Craig Barrett, former Olympic 50km walker is heralded as this year's ‘dark horse', having competed at Olympic and Commonwealth level and amassed 32 national senior titles in the process. Craig said that although he's retired from competing at an international level, he likes to stay fit and is looking forward to the race.

"My wife's involved in tramping and some of her friends mentioned the race. I liked the sound of the track and straight away I was keen to sign up. I've recently completed the Triple Peaks in Hawke's Bay as part of a team and I'm running four times a week, so I'm in good condition.

"I'm not looking to break any records, just get out there, have fun and enjoy the run," said Barrett.

Premier international endurance racer Elina Ussher (née Elina Maki-Rautila) returns to the race after a one year absence. In the 2006 Classic she set a new women's record of 3hr:30min:58sec.

Elina's presence promises to generate intense competition in the women's category where she'll face Emily Miazga, the 2008 female Coast to Coast winner, and Eveline Coombe, category winner of the 2006 Motatapu Marathon.

"I was geared up to race in the 2007 Classic but a heel injury put paid to that. This year my form is good and I'm feeling quite relaxed after the Coast to Coast. I'll be giving it my best shot and because this will be my first time on the Routeburn I'm also really looking forward to exploring the track," said Miazga.

Although the race has been oversubscribed, according to event director Evan McWhirter "the show's not over yet", and he's encouraging competitors to continue registering on the waiting list.

"Athletes continue to find new ways to mistreat themselves resulting in numerous injuries to their Greek statue-like frames. Thirty runners have been bumped from the waiting list to the competitor list already, because athletes who had initially registered have pulled out as a result of injury or other commitments.

"I rate the chances of those physically primed to go, who register on the waiting list now, as high and they're likely to get a place on the start line," said McWhirter.

The waiting list closes on 7 May 2008. Entry is via and costs $115 per person.

The event will take place on Saturday 10 May 2008, with a reserve wet weather day set for Sunday 11 May 2008.

Routeburn Classic sponsors include Outside Sports, Em's Power Cookies, Heritage Queenstown, Luxmore Hotel, Skyline Gondola, Restaurant and Luge, Body Sanctum, Routeburn Track Guided Walks, Skins, Isofuel and Rockgas.

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