Record fields and world class racing are on order for this weekend’s Great Cranleigh Kauri Run, but even that takes second billing to one of New Zealand’s most innovative event concepts.
When entrants 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 from Waikawau Beach over to Coromandel township 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 five years this unique event has planted almost 1000 Kauri seedlings. This weekend a record field of 400 starters will increase the new Kauri population by 40 percent in one year. This innovative event is the brainchild of local event organisers Andy Reid and Keith Stephenson, the energetic duo behind Adventure Racing Coromandel, an organisation that organises a number of popular Coromandel-based events such as the Mighty Moehau multisport race, Whitestar Intrigue mountain bike, RoadCraft K2 road cycle and ARC Adventure Race.
Their 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. It’s this aspect that attracted new major sponsor, Cranleigh merchant banking. Cranleigh do a lot of work in the clean renewable energy sector and thought the Kauri Run would be a perfect fit with their company outlook.
The event is certainly a good fit with endurance junkies, because in just five years it has become one of the North Island’s favourite trail running events. Starting on the rugged Pacific Coast the savagely scenic route traverses the Coromandel ranges to finish 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 usually open to the public.
This year’s record field might also see record racing, with several time national champion Ben Ruthe back to defend his title from last year. But it’s the woman’s race that will take centre stage with a slew of national reps, Olympians and even a world champion.
Certainly defending champion Oksana Isavnina (Akld) will find the competition tougher in 2008. Isavnina will be on the start line, but pre-race favourite is Australian Hanny Allston, a former world orienteering champion who has won the Rotorua Marathon and national half marathon championships while studying in Auckland.
Allston is leaving for her Tasmanian home soon and a win in one of New Zealand’s most innovative events would be a good send off. But she’ll have to face another Aussie import in dutch-born Carla Zijlstra, a former Olympic speed skater who has featured prominently on the Aussie mountain running scene since shifting downunder.
But both these women would do well to watch for Auckland’s Jane Nalder, a former New Zealand rep and national champion who is returning to good form following a few years away from the top level.
Among men, Tauranga’s Ben Ruthe is the odds-on favourite, although he’ll have to watch for runners from the opposite end of the spectrum in 53 year old Colin Earwaker (Roto), who has won this race before and finished fourth last year, and Whakatane teenager Daniel Jones, who has been featuring prominently in North island events of late.
Course records for this scenic but savage challenge belong to Tauranga’s Mark McKeown (2:28.09, 2006) and Wellington’s Carline Thomas (2:56.23, 2005), but the women’s time in particular is expected to be broken on Saturday.
Other features of this year Great Cranleigh Kauri Run include a new 13k Cranleigh Team Challenge. Entrants from the same organisation have their average time totalled to give a team time, the fastest of which will be the winner.
For further details: Andy Reid 07-866-8678 / 0274-921-348. Email: email@example.com . Website: www.arcevents.co.nz