King and Queen of the Withers 2020
By: Christopher Cookson
Last Modified: 31-12-2020 21:35
Running isn't really my thing, unless I'm being chased by a dangerous animal (of which there aren't many in New Zealand) or my daughter. Actually there is one other reason I'll run; to get a photo that I'd otherwise miss. Just as some people are quite competitive about their running, I'm a bit competitive about trying to get the shot that everyone else misses.
Since the end of November, I've had my nephew here from Brazil, and he's a keen runner. I told him about King and Queen of the Withers, and he was keen to give it a go. I seriously thought he'd fail even before the start, as he is a typical teenager, staying up late, and waking up even later, but to my surprise running is one thing that will get him out of bed.
We walked the course a couple of days ago, and running even for just short stretches, my legs ached afterwards, but Mateus was keen to do the race.
This morning we had an early start and I selected just one lens for my camera, as I knew there was going to be some rushing around.
All credit goes to the Marlborough Harrriers Club for their organisation, and the different classifications from walkers, hybrid run-walk, to hard-core runners, with something to encourage everyone to have a go. I was tempted to give the walk a go, but I needed to translate for Mateus who was determined to run, and not participating gave me better photographic opportunities.
It was a bit disappointing that there weren't more participants this year, as the Wither Hills provide a fantastic backdrop for a race, although they certainly do test participants' endurance.
I noticed all the press photographers stuck around on the low ground, but knowing the race was classified as a hill run, I had rather more daring plans. Having walked the course, I knew shortcuts I could take to get me ahead of runners so I could capture them on some of the steep parts of the course. The only downside to that was that even with shortcuts, I was going to have to run a bit with over 2Kg of camera around my neck. The 'Gentle Annie' track is not so gentle when you're running with a heavy camera, but it did give me about a minute's lead on the runners as they came up the ridge. Once I'd grabbed some shots, it was a rush back down the hill and around the last part of the course in reverse to part way up the last ridge, so I could capture the runners descending.
I've tried to photograph as many participants as possible, as regardless of placing, just completing this race is something to be proud of as it's 10Km of rugged hill running, that's probably tougher on the body than many gym workouts.
As for my nephew Mateus, things didn't go so well. He got off to a good start and kept up with the pack till about 6km into the race, he twisted his ankle on a stone, and ended up in considerable pain. To his credit, he finished the race and not in last place, and even with a twisted ankle, when I ran with him for a bit to encourage him, he soon left me behind. I hope he gets another opportunity to visit NZ, as in spite of a twisted ankle this time, I'm pretty sure he'd be keen to run King and Queen of the Withers again.
Well done to the organisers, place getters, especially Megan Craig, who has confirmed yet again her status as a Marlborough sporting legend, and all the participants who gave it a go.
Results (Overall placing and winners of each grade)
1st (King of the Withers and Junior Men): George Varney 41.37
2nd (Senior Men) : Julius Stromberg 41.46
5th (Veteran Men): Ian Anderson 44.27
7th (Queen of the Withers and Senior Women): Megan Craig 45.35
44th (Veteran Women) : Liz Coke 1.01.04
1st (Veteran Men) Paul O'Shea 1.00.46
2nd (Junior Women) Bella Rayner 1.04.16
3rd (Veteran Women) Haleigh Rayner 1.04.41
5th (Senior Women) Mani Landmark 1.06.01
10th (Senior Men) Tom Lintern 1.11.41
1st (Veteran Men) Larry Smith 1.28.35
2nd (Veteran Women) Wanda Smith 1.29.57
3rd (Senior Men) Motoki Sugino 1.31.54
4th (Senior Women) 1.33.06
Note: If anyone would like copies of photos, please see the contact page on this website, also, if anyone can provide me with names of participants, I'll add captions to the photos.