The Great Cranleigh Kauri Run
The big high over NZ on Saturday made for perfect running conditions for this years’ Great Cranleigh Kauri Run. Competitors from around the country lined up at their respective starts. All would converge on the Coromandel School fields over the course of the afternoon.
First to start were the 23km demi marathoners from Colville’s White Star Station. A slow climb up on to the ridgeline through farm and forest, a gnarly traverse across the Kaipawa and a lightening descent of the Success track saw Aucklander Andrew Marshall take a convincing win in the Men’s in a respectable 2:12:01 Perhaps more remarkable the leading lady, veteran Brigit Ray from Morrinsville, came 2nd overall just 10 minutes behind.
The 13km trail run is a tough little circuit which starts in Coromandel Town and takes in a scenic circuit of Long Bay and Tucks Bay before traversing the bush clad Harray Track. A remarkable performance by the young Deverall sisters from Cambridge saw the younger Emerson record the fastest time of the day in a staggering 52:39, a star in the making. Her sister Ashleigh was a comfortable 2nd. Tauranga Open man won the Men’s in 52:59 but had runners from both ends of the spectrum on his tail. Classic Thames runner Rodney Poulgrain came 2nd and Coromandel School, runner Victor Keen came 3rd. It was great to see so many participants from the local Coromandel School take part in this years’ run.
The 32km Classic runners were meanwhile lining up on the beach at Waikawau. There was a high level of excitement and trepidation in the air as the 10.30am gun sent competitors on their way. The first 2km along the beach is tough going and for most the smooth stride is replaced with a steady plod. The estuary crossing at the end of the beach means a bit of a dunking for the more vertically challenged, but once over participants can get in their stride. The first section provides a steady climb up to the lookout. Chris Morrissey won this years’ King of the Mountain followed closely by Dennis de Monchy, both runners from Tauranga. British Fell runner Rosie Watson narrowly took out the Queen of the Mountain from last years’ Italian winner Cecilia Flori.
The next 14km or so takes runners along the central ridgeline all the way through to the Kaipawa, the most technical and highest point on the race. Eventually they reach the Kaipawa Trig towering over Coromandel Town at a height of 586m. Its then downhill all the way to the finish line, the chance to extend the stride, if able and take a few chances on the sections of slippery clay.
Soon to descend into Coromandel
Chris Morrisey wins the Classic for the 2nd time in his career in a time of 2:41:46, with his mate Denis de Monchey a few minutes behind, followed in third by Auckland Sean Falconer. The long dark flowing locks of Cecilia Flori are next to appear as she takes a back to back win in the Classic in a solid time of 3:11.50. A few minutes later the fair skinned English Rose, Rosie Watson arrives in 2nd place with Veteran Thames runner Jo Donnelly finishing in third.
Sarah Hillary wins the Classic Womens category and the youngest competitor Whitianga 18 year old Connor McDonald finishes in a very credible 3:38:47.
As well as footsteps, these competitors will be leaving a kauri to be planted, joining the 3,000 that have been planted along the trail over the past 12 years.