News & Updates

11 June 2023 • Mountain Running

Batchelor and Flint lead Kiwi charge in the mountain classic

Toby Batchelor produced a spirited performance to finish lead Kiwi in the senior men's classic mountain race. Credit: (Shaun Cantwell).

New Zealand wrapped up their quest at the 2023 World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Austria with Toby Batchelor and Maia Flint finishing the top Kiwis in the senior classic mountain races just three days after achieving the same feat in the vertical mountain race.

On a day of high-class mountain running competition at the stunning Innsbruck-Stubai location, Batchelor (Pakuranga) produced a strong, evenly-paced run in the 15km test to finish 53rd in 1:04:46 – one place higher than he achieved in the vertical race – in the 143-man field.

Niam Macdonald of Wellington Scottish was the second Kiwi across the line in 73rd (1:07:34) – producing another solid outing after his 70th position in the uphill only event.

Unfortunately, men’s team skipper and New Zealand Mountain Running champion Andy Good took ill before the competition and spent the past two days in bed. Understandably this impacted the performance of the University of Canterbury athlete, and he came home 81st (1:08:28).

Michael Sutton (Athletics Tauranga) was disappointed with his 87th place finish in the vertical race and opted to withdraw from the Classic Mountain race.

Leonard Chemutai, winner of the U20 classic race at the 2022 World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Thailand in November, led home a Ugandan one-two to strike gold in 56:14. Kenya took gold in the team competition with New Zealand placing 21st (207pts).

Teenager Maia Flint impressed to finish lead Kiwi in 68th in the vertical race on the opening day of the championships and the VUW Athletics athlete again gave a demonstration of her rich potential to come home in 65th (1:21:06) in the classic mountain race on her international debut competition. Andrea Peat (Wellington Harriers) covered the distance in 1:24:49 to place 75th and finish one spot in front of team-mate Sabrina Edwards (Lake City) in 1:25:22.

Women’s team captain Sarah Douglas, who was making her fifth World Mountain Running appearance, was the lead Kiwi around much of the first of two laps but was forced to withdraw because of a calf injury.

At the head of the race Grayson Murphy of the USA regained the title she last won in 2019 to take gold in 1:04:29 – just three days after snagging bronze in the uphill-only race. In the team competition New Zealand placed 18th (216pts) as Kenya took gold.

Flint, who celebrates her 20th birthday next month, said of her performance: “It was very tough out there. It was a fast start, which was to be expected, and I tried to run within myself that first lap but no matter how slow you go up that big hill it is still very tough. The second lap was about holding on for dear live and fighting, fighting. I’m proud of myself for getting across the line and I think our team produced a solid performance.”

In the 7.5km men’s U20 race Kiwi Ben Rickerby placed 59th in 34:43. The Auckland City athlete had finished 31st in the 2022 edition of these championships, however, given the larger spread of nations and competitors here in Austria compared to Chiang Mai last November, the teenager’s performance was comparable. James Kirwa led home a Ugandan 1-2 – striking gold in a time of 27:37.

New Zealand achieved three top 50 individual finishes across the four-day championship. The highlight was a 12th place finish by Caitlin Fielder (Athletics Nelson) in the women’s short trail race.

***For live results go here