Six times world mountain running champion Jonathan Wyatt will make a rare appearance in New Zealand when he tackles the New Zealand mountain running championship at Mt Campbell Motueka on Saturday.
The 37 year old is permanently based in Europe and follows the mountain running circuit there each season. As well as the world titles, Wyatt has won the European Grand Prix series eight times.
The New Zealand championship fits in well as it is the only time in the year that he and his wife Italian Olympic skier Antonella Confortola are able to visit his parents, who just happen to live in Motueka.
“My wife finished her world cup season at the end of March and has to be back in Italy to begin the next national training with the team at the beginning of May. I also have races starting in May,” said Wyatt.
Wyatt is looking forward to the uphill 14.2km race which rises from almost sea level to over 1300m.
“I have had a European winter without a lot of hill training so definitely not in top form but I try to stay fit with base work and so hopefully I will improve from here,” he said.
His latest effort was on 7 March in Liguria Italy where he finished fifth in the Imperia half marathon in 1h 8m 45s.
He knows the course well having won the national title on the previous two occasions the championships have been held there in 2002 and 2008. Wyatt also won the title in 1998 in Blenheim.
“It is a nice track, steeper in the second half and a bit like the gradient that you would find in the European races. The view at the top is spectacular from Mt Campbell and I know the area well,” said Wyatt.
Competition for Wyatt will come from the defending champion Glenn Hughes, the 2007 champion Angus Bell, last year’s junior champion Michael Banks, the junior champion in 2006 and 2007 Aaron Jackson and James Coubrough.
Wyatt’s wife Antonella Confortola has entered in the women’s 7.2km event. Confortola competes in cross country skiing and is a bronze medallist in the 4 x 5km event at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. She has also won a silver in 1999 and a bronze in 2005 at the World Championships.
Wyatt says that it was an opportunity to enter her in the race as she may want to run.
“Don’t expect anything special because she hasn’t run for five months. The ski season is long and intense so she is having a rest now. Having said that I am amazed at how well she runs the hills given that even when she is running well in the summer she only runs a maximum of three days a week,” said Wyatt.
Leading European mountain runner Anna Frost, formerly from Dunedin, has entered and should be hard to beat. Demelza Murrihy-Topp, third last year, has entered.
All events start at 12.00pm.
Athletics New Zealand
Athletics New Zealand – News