The aptly named Mission Mount Somers provides most with a challenging mountain running experience in the best of weather. Canterbury spring weather is notably changeable, however, Saturday October 29th it decided to bring back winter.
Nearly 480 people signed up to complete the Mission Mt Somers this year, over double the entries from its inaugural race in 2015. Organisers of the race, Enduranz Events, utilised the multi-day walking track around the distinctive volcanic cone of Mt Somers to provide athletes with four different running options.
This year 70 competitors took on the Marathon option which circumnavigates the entire mountain. Runners departed the normally dozy settlement of Staveley at 7.00am in calm mild conditions, which most likely left a number of athletes with a false sense of what an adventure they were about to have.
The course had to be shortened slightly due to the local ‘stream’ being more like a west coast river. No one complained however and the recent snowfall and ongoing storm dissolved any wishes of extra kilometres! The southerly front forecasted for Friday night was supposed to hit hard and clear out Saturday morning to leave relatively fine but cool day in its wake. The forecasters got it mostly correct but forgot to mention some early afternoon hail storms!
Nick Hann, favourite open male marathon competitor, did not disappoint, passing through the halfway point at Woolshed creek carpark in just over two hours. The fleet footed orienteer didn’t let 20cm of snow slow him down and continued his form on the back half of the course, crossing the line at 4:34:33 – a few minutes faster than last year’s winner Roman Evarts, albeit on a shorter yet more demanding course. Mitch Munro followed in second, knocking 10 minutes from last year’s time, proving he is on course to race well in the upcoming Adventure Racing World Champs. Adam Keen was not far behind finishing in 5:11:06, coming in third overall.
Returning champ Julia Grant was firm favourite in the Women’s open marathon race, however, an ironman race the week before and the course snow conditions providing too many opportunities to update her Instagram feed, meant that she was a really close second to Dani Nicolson who seemed to thrive in the snow conditions, winning by a mere three minutes in 5:31:42. Jenny Miller finished a credible third in 6:13:38. Both Marathon winners took home $500 cash thanks to Tavendale and Partners.
The Vets categories were won by Frances Mills in the women’s and Matt Bixley in the men.
The half marathon is a hotly contested event and brings out a number of super fast multisport athletes who are setting up for a summer of racing. With the promise of $200 cash being added to the winners cheque of $250 for anyone who could break the 2 hour time threshold, the athletes didn’t allow a foot of snow to slow them down. Tane Cambridge proved he is fit and fast, post injury, completing the run in 2:05:28, with Methven local Stephen Blackwell, and Flavio Vianna close behind.
In the women’s, young Isla Smith demonstrated why she is a rising star in the multisport scene, winning in a time of 2:40:41 with Jess Kikstra and Katie Smith finishing close behind.
In the 10K event local youngsters Brea Roderick, Logan Currie, Aimee Elliot, Mark Wilson and Olivia Kikstra cleaned up, they all have bright futures in the running and multisport scenes.
The 5K event was also hotly contested and local Staveley lad, Jacob Currie led from start till finish.
Race organisers, Glen Currie and Tineka Johnstone were ecstatic with how the races unfolded on Saturday and all athletes who crossed the finish line no doubt felt as if they had probably banked some yarns for years to come. 2016’s Mission will most likely be remembered as the year of four seasons in one day, and for many as ‘that time they did an alpine marathon in the snow’. There is no way that the event could have possibly occurred without the support of the Methven Search and Rescue who braved the conditions to make
sure that athletes were closely monitored whilst out on the course. As well as the continued support from the Mission Mt Somers sponsors who make Canterbury’s Trail Run a possibility.
Enduranz Events would like to thank the following: DOC, Methven SAR, Mt Somers Walkway, Macpac, Tavendale & Partners, Feet n Motion, Complete Performance, Say Yes to Adventure magazine, Mountain Gym, Smith Optics, Pure Sports Nutrition, Rata Escape, Big Als, Midlands Honey, Netherby Meats, Methven Lodge & BnB, Mt Hutt Skifield, Skitime, Gurney Goo, and Experience Mid Canterbury.
– Glen Currie