Jo Johansen Wins the Hillary Ultra

It is not a walk in the park – but a chance for well-prepared trampers to experience the diverse, and often challenging west coast. Auckland City Council website

Hillary Trail The Hillary Trail

 By Roger Childs

The 75km trail, named after Kiwi legend Sir Edmund Hillary, links tracks and trails through the Waitakere ranges on Auckland’s west coast. Opened in 2010 it is considered to be a tough 3 to 4 day tramp. However, on Saturday 29 March the first Hillary Ultra was run over a distance of 80km with 3700 m climb. Fresh from her recent triumph in the Tarawera Ultra, Kapiti Running and Tri Club athlete Jo Johansen easily won the women’s section.

 The rise of a remarkable athlete

Jo Johannsen Jo has had a meteoric rise as a competitive runner. This time last year she joined the Kapiti Running and Tri Club and steadily improved her performances.

In July 2013 she was placed 6th in the Wellington Cross Country Championships, but by October she was winning races.

Over the last six months she has won

~ The Koputaroa Half Marathon outright
~ The Korokoro Half Marathon outright
~ The Hutt Valley River Trails 6okm women’s section
~ The Tarawera Ultra 67km women’s section.

In the challenging Tarawera event she beat a world class field and was over 9 minutes ahead of the second place getter.

Champion over the grueling Hillary Ultra

Jo J Auckland ultra runner Shaun Collins was the first person to run the course. He has been a key figure in setting up New Zealand’s latest ultra event. Peter Hillary said to me that his father would love the idea of having an event on the trail and he is very excited to see how it goes,  said Collins.

It all happened on Saturday and Kapiti’s Jo Johansen has set the benchmark for future women ultra runners.  In winning, Jo recorded a time of 10 hours 4 minutes and 7 seconds with the second woman being over 72 minutes back! Overall she was eighth fastest finisher in a field of 37.

For the record Frenchman Stephen Quentin was the men’s winner in 8.38.14.