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Kauri Runners Growing Coromandel

Kauri Runners Growing Coromandel

When 300 runners from five countries line up on Saturday for the Coromandel’s Great Cranleigh Kauri Run, they’ll be meeting more than just personal goals. Their very presence on the 32km trail across the Coromandel Peninsula’s Central Divide will leave a positive impact on the regions famous forests. For every competitor who lines up, this event quite literally plants a new Kauri tree.

In nine years this unique event has planted almost 2500 Kauri seedlings. This weekend the Kauri population will increase by 300 more entrants and trees. Organised by Coromandel residents, Andy Reid and Keith Stephenson, the success revolves around a simple ethos of providing a great race in a great place. But in the Great Cranleigh Kauri Run they also have a great cause.

Starting at Waikawau Beach on the rugged Pacific Coast, the Kauri Run traverses the Coromandel ranges to finish at Coromandel Township on the Hauraki Gulf. Along the way competitors experience 32km of native bush, stream crossing and over 800 vertical metres of climbing. And much of the course is on private land, which means competitors get to see parts of the Coromandel not typically open to the public.

Course records for this scenic but savage challenge belong to Galatea’s Sjors Corporaal (2:25.35, 2009) and Australian Hanny Allston (2:42.11, 2008). Favourites for 2012 include Christchurch’s Vajin Armstrong and Rotorua’s Colin Earwaker. Armstrong was runner up in 2010, but Earwaker is a Kauri Run legend.

The 53 year old was the first winner of the Great Cranleigh Kauri Run back in 2004, and is the only person to have completed every year since. But even more impressively, he has only once finished outside the top five, including a strong fourth place last year.

The hardest fought title, however, will be among women. Favourite is Kauri Run rookie Lesley Turner-Hall from Auckland, a successful trail runner and marathoner with several wins nationwide. She faces 2011 third placegetter Jo Bannister (Akld) and 2010 winner Ruby Muir (Whitianga). Muir will also be keen to kick off the defence of her Triple Crown title, a three-race series that starts with the Great Cranleigh Kauri Run and is followed by the Goat Tongaritro on December 1st and the Goat Kaiamai on March 23rd.

While the traditional 32k Classic is the feature event, in recent years organisers have introduced 13k, 21k and 72k options. “We wanted the event to be more inclusive across all types of runners and walkers,” says event organiser Andy Reid.

“The 13k Kauri Crossing is a great introduction to trail running and is actually the most popular option. The new 21k Kauri Demi-Marathon is a good step up to completing the 32k Kauri Classic. And for a few true endurance junkies, the 72k Kauri Ultra is like the ultimate test.”

The 72k Ultra was introduced in 2011. Starting from Fletcher Bay at the top of Coromandel Peninsula, the 25-strong field take the Northern Coromandel Walkway down through Three Stones Bay to Waikawau Beach where they join the normal 32k Kauri Run for the remainder of their journey. Favourite is Cambridge runner Kerry Suter, who was runner-up in the 32k Kauri Classic in 2009. Among women, Hamilton’s Dawn Tuffery will be trying to go one better than her second place in 2011’s inaugural 72k Kauri Ultra.

Other features at the Great Cranleigh Kauri Run include the 13k Cranleigh Team Challenge where entrants from the same organisation have their average time totalled to give a team time, the fastest of which will be the winner. Principal sponsor, Cranleigh Corporate Advisory, have entered two teams to take on the likes of Ernst and Young.

The Great Cranleigh Kauri Run is the second of Adventure Racing Coromandel’s popular summer events, which include the Cranleigh K2 Cycle Classic (Nov 2), the ARC Adventure Race (Feb 16-17) and the Moehau Multisport Festival (March 16). Their events benefit the Spirit of Coromandel Trust, which provides opportunities for young people to experience the outdoors.


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