HE’S better known as a marathon specialist but on Sunday David Criniti became the conqueror of the 6.2 kilometre Mount Panorama course.
Not only did Criniti take out the Mount Panorama Punish in his first ever lap around the track, he won in a new record time of 21 minutes and nine seconds.
Criniti was the first man to reach the top of the Mount, 17 seconds clear of last year’s winner Lachlan Oakes, and extended his margin to 34 seconds at the finish line.
Dani Andres (23:25) and Sam Torley (23:54) followed the leading pair, while first Bathurst man home Wes Gibson (24:03) rounded out the top five.
Criniti’s time betters the 21:50 mark set by Mitch Williamson in 2017’s inaugural event.
Marathon champion Criniti had been eyeing off the Punish for almost a year and thrived off the challenge the 174 metres of elevation provided.
“It’s a fantastic event. In my warm up I ran about a kilometre up the track and that was before the hill really pitched up. I had a mate who told me it really got steeper after that corner but it still managed to surprise me,” he said.
“Those first three kilometres I was going around each bend thinking ‘When is this going to end?’ but the view from the top was great. It was great to see Bathurst and the feeling of racing out on the track was a great experience.
“I wanted to get out to this race last year but something came up at the last minute. It’s quickly become an iconic event on an iconic track. The race organisers have put a lot into organising this and I hope it continues to grow.”
Criniti and Oakes spent the opening kilometres racing in close proximity up the steepest sections.
It was on the rise out Reid Park where Criniti started to assert his dominance, and it only continued to grow after he claimed king of the mountain honours.
He flew down Conrod Straight and finished his race off with a powerful sprint to the line.
Criniti is confident the event can continue to grow and wants to play a part in making that happen.
“I want to be back next year and I’m looking forward to taking a few of my schoolkids out here, as part of The Run Beyond Project,” he said.
“The project uses running as a mechanism to teach kids about goal setting, commitment and resilience. You definitely need a bit of resilience to get around this track and we’ll have kids demonstrating that in the Mount Panorama Punish in 2020.”
Criniti reached the top of the Mount in a time of 11:26, which also bettered the previous mark of 11:55 set by Williamson.
Oakes’ overall time of 21:43 was also under the previous record and was well under the time of 22:55 he ran to win the 2018 edition.
Sunday’s race was once again well supported by home competitors.
Gibson was the fastest of them, running close to the time he set in his previous attempt.
“I was only a few seconds off the time from last year and it was awesome to see so many people out here. It’s such a well run race and everyone has a great time,” he said.
“I shouldn’t have raced last year. I was injured and, sillily, decided to still race it. It just wanted to get back around there, and that ended up being close to where I thought I’d finish.”
Criniti (40-49 years), Oakes (19-39), Torley (12-18) and younger brother Dominic (0-11, 24:34) all won their respective age divisions while Bathurst’s Stephen Jackson was the first 60-plus runner home.