HE is a five-time winner of the Bathurst Half Marathon 10 kilometre title and now Mitch Williamson has been crowned the inaugural victor of the Mount Panorama Punish.
The Orange runner covered the 6.213 kilometre circuit in 21 minutes and 50 seconds, his effort the quickest of the 489 competitors who took part in the new event.
Williamson was the fastest up the slopes of the iconic circuit, claiming king of the mountain honours with an 11:54 split for the first 2.9km. From there he went on to win ahead of talented Bathurst 12-year-old Ben Witney (22.19) and another local in Wes Gibson (23.40).
“It was good. It was a tough run. I’ve jogged it in the past for training, but not for anything like this,” Williamson said. “I didn’t really go for any specific time.”
Given the elevation changes in the Mount Panorama circuit, the opening kilometres of the event were telling. Gibson was third to reach the king of the mountain point, but at that stage was 51 seconds behind Williamson and could not reel him in.
“I got to the top and I could still see Mitch, but he must have really smoked it from there. He’s obviously run that down hill really quickly, which is pretty good to see,” Gibson said. “He put a little bit more time into me going down than he did going up, which is good as I tend to like running down hill.
“Mitch is a great runner and a great local runner, so it was great to see him win a race like that, get it under his belt, he deserves it.
“He showed how building up hill was really important … it was good to see him show up and not be injured because I know he’s had a few injury problems lately. He’s running really well.”
Gibson was also impressed by Witney’s performance, the junior having been 45 seconds quicker than him to reach the top of Mount Panorama. “Ben, his power to weight ratio going up the hill is pretty amazing. He’s going to turn into quite a good cross country runner, I mean the world’s at his feet at the moment,” he said. “He’s a bundle of energy and he’s really competitive. He ran really strongly up the hill, he sort of got away from me after Blundstone Corner, he just kept his form really well and ran away.
“To only be a handful of seconds behind Mitch, that’s a testament to how well he went. I don’t think I’ll be seeing the front of him much more in racing.”
An experienced runner, Gibson enjoyed the first edition of the Mount Panorama Punish and feels it is a good test both physically and tactically. “It was pretty awesome to have such a good event, so many local runners came along. It was pretty amazing and it’s a pretty special course, so it was really nice to participate in it,” he said.
“It’s a tough one, you have to be mindful obviously of the up, but also not being too cautious, so it’s a hard one to get right.
“To get to the top and not being smashed is pretty important, being smart is quite vital. So it’s quite a tough one, but it’s like any other race that if you prepare sensibly and think about what’s in front of you, you can do it.”