News & Updates

6 November 2022 • Mountain Running

Rickerby earns best Kiwi finish on final day in Chiang Mai

Ben Rickerby took a mid-race tumble but still managed to finish an excellent 31st in the junior men's uphill/downhill mountain race in Chiang Mai, Thailand. (Credit: Karen Rickerby).

New Zealand climaxed their challenge at the inaugural World Mountain and Trail Running Championships with two further top 50 finishes at a roasting Chiang Mai in Thailand.

Benjamin Rickerby (Auckland City Athletics) sustained cuts and bruises following a mid-race tumble, but the teenager produced the best finishing position of the championships by a Kiwi athlete, placing a proud 31st in 27:48 in the junior men’s uphill/downhill mountain race.

Completing the 6km distance comprising a + and – elevation of 225m, the 18-year-old national U20 mountain running champion executed a solid run despite experiencing a nasty fall on the downhill section.

“It was a hard and fast race,” said Rickerby, who is studying a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Auckland. “Going downhill I had to be careful with my footing and just after passing one of the Thai guys, I hit a trench and a log and went down pretty badly.

“I managed to keep on going and got to the finish. With the race starting at 8.30am the race was not too hot. I felt the heat a bit going uphill but coming back down it was reasonably flat and okay to deal with.

“I am over the moon with my performance. It is great to run in the New Zealand singlet.”

The Ugandan athletes dominated the race taking the first four finishing positions – led home by Leonard Chemutai in a time of 21:07.

New Zealand Mountain Running champion Sarah Douglas, who placed 44th in the uphill only race on Friday, returned just 48 hours later to compete in the uphill-downhill race today, finishing a respectable 47th in 59:35.

The 38-year-old Queenstown AC said she “pulled up well” from her exertions in the uphill only race and was very satisfied with her efforts in the 10.7km race – which comprised a + – elevation gain of 443m.

“I’m pleased with how it went today, I actually thought it was a lot hotter than for the uphill race, it was more exposed,” explains Sarah.

“I felt like I climbed pretty well but although I did good on the downhill, I probably wasn’t quite as fearless as some of the other girls. Overall, I am happy with today and pleased I competed in both races.”

Uganda claimed an impressive 1-2 in the senior women’s uphill/downhill race led home by Rebecca Cheptegei in 46:25 to maintain their dominance in the mountain running disciplines in Chiang Mai.

New Zealand Team Manager John Bowden was also delighted at the way the team performed at the inaugural event and he believes it will stand the athletes in good stead for the future.

“Sarah (Douglas) was the only one of the nine athletes on the team to have competed before at a World Championships and I think they have all learned a lot from the experience,” he adds.

“In future, to ensure the gap between domestic competition and World Championships is not so big, we need to develop a regional event like an Asia-Oceania Championships.

“The conditions and quality of the opposition was brutal, but they’ve all loved representing New Zealand and want to do so again. Hopefully they will encourage others in New Zealand to get involved in mountain and trail running. I’m very proud of the efforts they’ve put in.

“We had a lot of help from the parents of some of the athletes and I’d like to say a big thank you to them.”  

Full results from go here

For more information on the inaugural World Mountain and Trail Running Championships go here