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Barnes and Wilson reign in the mountains

A change of course didn’t stop pre-race favourites Thomas Barnes and Ali Wilson from powering to easy wins in the 30th running of the Jumbo Holdsworth Mountain Race.

With strong winds and rain forecast for Saturday, race director Andrew Thompson made an early call on Friday to change to a ‘B Course’, saying the weather was set to be too dangerous to send the runners over the tops.

The altered course went up Pinnacle Ridge, an old track no longer marked on maps, and back down the Atiwhakatu Valley, and then up and over Mountain House Junction to the finish.

Thompson said it covered about the same distance and, depending on whose watch was recording, about the same climb, but it featured tougher terrain and was a more technical challenge.

“Everyone loved it and loved the difference, and everyone was grateful to get a solid race despite the poor weather,” Thompson added.

“There was excellent feedback and plenty of happy runners for the 30th event, even if it wasn’t the classic loop.”

Barnes and Wilson dominated their races from the start and pulled away for comfortable victories, Barnes by more than seven minutes and Wilson by 11 minutes.

Barnes’s time was two hours, 27 minutes and 26.7 seconds, with Thomas Callan second in 2:34:49.5 and Arran Whiteford in 2:37:16.7.

Wilson’s victory was her second in the race, having won in 2021, and her time was an impressive 2:58:01. Veteran Piret Klade was the second woman to finish in 3:09:28.1, and Wairarapa’s Rachel Shackleton completed the podium, in 3:19:39.2.

Veteran James Richardson took line honours in the Hooper Loop, completing the tough 12km course in 1:01:24.4, well clear of runner-up and first woman home Florence Reynolds in 1:08:20.3, just pipping Ryan Brydges by 0.3 seconds. Otis Galloway was the third man to cross the line, with Madeliene Watson [1:10:38.5] and Christina Plant [1:13:56.6] the second and third women, respectively.

Two of the four “survivors” from the inaugural race in 1995 completed the Jumbo Holdsworth for the 30th time, Kelly Holland [60] finishing in 4:16:25.2 and Rob McCrudden [58] crossing the line in 5:44:34.7, while Owen Rowse [74] completed the Hooper Loop in 2:11:25.6.

Thompson said the tricky nature of the courses resulted in lots of minor injuries, and there were plenty of tumbles down the final descent on the very rutted Gentle Annie track, which saw the medics well worked both on the course and at the base.

Despite the late change of course, several late withdrawals, and the wet weather, Thompson was rapt with how the races went and said it took a lot of pressure off on the day, having decided to change to the backup course the day before.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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