6 April, 2018, 12:00 am
Danish Simon Grimstrup finished the stage one of the South Pacific’s first ultra marathon of 35 kilometres at Raviravi Village with a time of 3 hours 53 minutes.
Fijian national marathon rep, Kennol Narayan came in second place with a time of four hours and 18 minutes. Narayan is only participating in the first and the last stage of the ultra marathon.
American Andrew Brock, New Zealander Andrew Hedgman and Spanish Xavi came in third place respectively.
The ultra marathon started at 7am from close to Yaqara near Togovere Village in Ra.
From Togovere, runners turned inland across Yaqara’s land for the first 20km before descending on a track behind the Nakauvadra range for a further 15km of the footrace’s daunting terrain. Their reward for braving the challenge will be some incredible Fijian hospitality and stunning interior views along the way — all of which will be showcased to a global audience.
The runners and organisers were to have camped outside the village, however, the true Fijian spirit kicked in and the villagers opened their homes and offered their beds to everyone for the night.
World famous ultra marathoners from the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, France, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand are taking part.
The other three from Fiji include Anna Cowley, Eroni Takape and Petero Manoa.
Grimstrup, a 41-year-old serial ultra marathon runner, started running in the forest and hills in Denmark when he was 10 years old.
“Very green, very nice views of the hills and cool rivers on the Suncoast gave me the endurance to do this trail run, the scenes are just wonderful,” he said.
Narayan, a Rakiraki lad, who was crowned winner of the 2016 ultra marathon at the annual Suva Marathon Club run when he was 22, stunned many as a first- timer as he glided through 52km for 3 hours and 15 mins to claim the title.
“Running here was a morale booster as I was in my own yasayasa (area) … and seeing all the runners in awe of Fiji’s beauty just gave me the extra urge to do my country proud,” he said.
*Josephine Prasad is the organising committee media and communications adviser. She will bring us regular columns during the duration of the ultra marathon.