Women's Sport: This ultra runner became the first female to the Old Ghost Ultra outright

Ultrarunner Ruth Croft won last weekend’s Old Ghost Ultra, setting a new women’s course record in the process.

The Kiwi’s time of seven hours, 31 minutes and eight seconds was the fastest in both the men’s and women’s fields and beat the women’s course record by eight minutes.  

She was 16 minutes ahead of the rest of the field in the race that is 85 kilometres long with a total of 2600 metres of elevation following the Old Ghost Road walking and biking path.

Croft told Stuff it was the longest race she had competed in for a while, reflecting: “Just after that 42-kilometre point was the hardest and that last 15km was tough, but having it downhill helped.”

Humble even in victory, she cited the withdrawal of Vajin Armstrong, the champion male runner as a contributing factor to her win: “It was great to finally race on this amazing trail and see for myself what everyone has been talking about. Armstrong strained his calf so I think I was lucky on the day.”

She said the race is “definitely one for the bucket list.”

Phil Rossiter the race director of the Old Ghost Ultra was impressed with Croft’s performance: “It’s not unexpected from Ruth but amazing all the same – she absolutely blitzed a classy male field.”

“It was another great weekend for us. We’re privileged to be able to watch these people smash their challenges. The weather looked after us and it was an intense, emotional spectacle for all involved.”

Croft was the first outright female winner to achieve the fastest time in both fields at the race. Ruby Muir had previously finished as a joint winner in 2016. She competed again this year coming in second after Croft.

Crofts other ultrarunning achievements include placing second in Portugal at the World Trail Championships. She is the latest in a growing number of women outperforming men in ultrarunning, following the likes of Jasmine Paris who won the Spine Race in 2019 becoming the first woman to win the 268-mile race outright.

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