Runner on high


Gutsy Queenstown athlete Sarah Douglas is stoked with her performance at this month’s world mountain running champs in Andorra, near Spain.

Despite finishing 35th and not making her top-30 goal, the two-time national champion was two places ahead of her only other worlds, in Bulgaria in 2016, “and time-wise I was a lot closer to some of the runners from two years ago”.

She finished the tough 11.9km course, featuring 1028 vertical metres, in 1hr 15min 40sec, 10min 45sec behind the women’s winner.

She was also part of a four-women NZ team who were stoked to finish eighth.

Douglas says training at altitude in Europe for almost four weeks paid off.

Despite the Andorra finish-line being 2430m above sea level, “I don’t remember thinking, ‘I can’t breathe’ or ‘I feel awful”‘.

Encouragingly, in a very tough 14.5km lead-up race in Italy, which had 1600m of vertical, she’d finished 11th fastest woman.

Douglas says she’s delighted that despite a painful nerve tumour in both her feet, which threatened to derail her career before it was successfully treated last year, her feet didn’t hurt during either race.

She also thinks her race tactics of starting slowly, then speeding up, worked both times.

“I definitely felt like a little bit of an old lady in the [NZ] team because everyone was between 20 and 28, and I’m 34.”

However she’s come back from her European training and racing trip “really motivated”.

“I’ll do the New Zealand champs next year and we’ll see how it goes.”

Meanwhile, last Saturday, just three days after returning to Queenstown, she broke her women’s record for the 5km Parkrun around Queenstown Gardens by 14 seconds, recording 18.30sec.