THE Mount Panorama Punish course record was shattered in its fifth edition on Sunday as Nowra’s Harry McGill conquered the track in a time of 20 minutes and 44 seconds.
Pictures by Alexander Grant
McGill was first across the peak of the mountain with an 18 second margin over the nearest competitor and extended that gap with a strong run downhill to comfortably beat New Caledonian runner Illya Justin (21:21) and Bathurst’s Miller Rivett (21:55).
The record-breaking performance was a mighty effort from a track-running specialist who had never completed a lap of the mountain before.
His time substantially betters the 21:09 lap record effort from 2019 winner David Criniti.
An overall victory and a possible course record were always on McGill’s mind for his trip to Bathurst, and once he reached the top of the mountain halfway through Sunday’s race he knew he was in with a great chance of claiming both those goals.
“I’d seen some segments on Strava where Dave had the course record and I thought ‘Maybe I could sneak that in’,” he said.
“It’s a really tough run. You don’t realise on TV when the cars are racing how steep it is. The footage doesn’t do it justice.
“I have lots of family in Bathurst, so I often visit, but I’ve always wanted to run it so today was a great chance to do that.”
McGill claimed the king of the mountain title by reaching the top of the track in 11:16.
Justin was still within striking distance at 11:34 and a cluster of four runners – Rivett (11:49), Zbynek Hanys (11:55), Aaron Houston (11:55) and Max Martinez (11:56) – were also still in contention at that stage.
However, McGill had still left plenty in reserve for his charge down through The Esses and Conrod Straight.
“It was pretty tight at the start. I held back a little bit because I didn’t want to go out too hard and blow up,” he said.
“I reached the top after passing a couple of people and I was in the lead there. I was cruising on the way down and then I heard someone’s footsteps behind me so I sped up a bit. I had to work hard at the end there.
“I didn’t really know where [Justin] was because I was running scared the whole time. I thought he was coming so I just kept looking forward and hammering home.”
In the end McGill won with a margin that was more comfortable then he expected.
He also managed to come through the run unscathed as he continues his comeback from injury.
“I’ve had a great year of training but I tore my calf a month ago,” he said.
“This was going to be a test for that, but I’ve been coming along pretty well. I’ve been plugging away, working full-time on the side, because there’s unfortunately no money in running so that makes it hard to put the effort in but I’ve been getting it done.
“I’m a track runner … but back home there’s a nice cross country course that’s got a couple of hills in it, but it’s nothing like this,” he laughed.
The top 10 was rounded out by Hanys, Martinez, Houston, Matthew Ferguson, James Pucci, Ben Woodhouse and Nick Zawadski.
Western Advocate 23/10/2022 by Alexander Grant https://www.westernadvocate.com.au/story/7952563/mcgill-shatters-mount-panorama-punish-course-record/