By PHILIP CHANDLER
Queenstown’s home to New Zealand’s top female and male trail runners following last weekend’s Crater Rim Ultra in Canterbury.
Nancy Jiang, 29, took the NZ Trail Running Championship women’s title, completing the 53km course from Diamond Harbour in 5 hours 43 minutes, more than 40 minutes faster than her nearest rival.
And Weston Hill, 28, won the men’s title in 4:38, almost nine minutes ahead of his runner-up.
Amazingly, both work in the resort as engineers and also set course-record times — Jiang shaved more than 14 minutes off the women’s record and Hill took more than 20 minutes off the men’s record.
It was Jiang’s second title in three years and came after an injury-plagued build-up caused by a tendon tear in her foot in June.
To get over it, she incorporated ski touring into her training programme.
‘‘I was strong on the climbs and good on the descents — the ski touring must have worked,’’ she says.
‘‘There was very little wind out there and it was super-sunny — I even think, coming from Queenstown, it was a little hot.
‘‘I’m just stoked to be out there running — we are in a really privileged position here in NZ.’’
Hill, who last won the event in 2017, says he’d targeted it for a little while.
‘‘It was disappointing to miss out on this race a couple of years ago when I was away competing in China.
‘‘The beauty of Covid is it has meant a few of us have been in NZ, rather than competing overseas, and that made for some great racing.’’
The ultra attracted a healthy field of 187 runners.