Mountain runner changes course

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By PHILIP CHANDLER

A Queenstowner who’s represented New Zealand at three world mountain running champs is expected to give a good run for her money at tomorrow’s NZ Cross Country Championship in Dunedin.

Sarah Douglas, who turned 37 this week, qualifies for the masters division but is defying
her age by entering the senior women’s 10km race.

She’s not competed in cross country as much as she’d have liked, partly due to her focus on mountain running, but says she enjoys both disciplines — ‘‘they’re both quite different
challenges’’.

Her motivation to race more cross country has grown since she joined the Queenstown Athletic club, coached by Neville Britton, about three years ago.

‘‘Now we’ve got a group who travel together it makes it way easier and a lot more fun.

‘‘The young kids definitely keep me honest and keep me having to work on my speed.’’

Douglas, who’s previously suffered major injury problems, says she’s now spending a lot
more time on her strength and conditioning and ‘prehab’ — ‘‘I feel like I spend more time
doing this than running, sometimes’’.

As the fastest woman in last December’s Kepler Challenge Luxmore Grunt and this year’s Routeburn Classic, Southern Lakes 10km and Southland cross country champs, she’s in good form for Dunedin.

She also checked out the course — the Chisholm Links golf course — while running the
Otago champs.

‘‘It’s actually quite undulating — they’re not long climbs or descents, but if you’ve not
trained in the hills you’re probably going to feel them a lot.’’

Six other Queenstown Athletic runners are competing this Saturday.

Dylan Collins is in the under-14 boys’ race, over 3km, and Siena Mackley and Jude Deaker
are in, respectively, the U16 girls’ and boys’ races, over 4km.

Gore-based Ethan Friend’s in the 6km U18 boys’ and Benjamin Britton’s in the U20 8km
men’s race.

Benjamin’s dad, Neville, lines up in the same race but in the 50-plus masters category.

A case, Neville says, of ‘‘a young stallion up against an old Clydesdale’’.

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