Galatea dairy farmer Sjors Corporaal looms as an early favourite as the North Island Triple Crown trail running series begins tomorrow. Corporaal is tackling the 18km Toi’s Challenge race in Whakatane, launching a three-week tilt at three of the most spectacular and challenging off-road running races.
His main competition is expected to come from Hamilton Hawks runner Kerry Suter and Papamoa multisport athlete Chris Morrissey.
The Triple Crown takes in tomorrow’s event, then moves on to next week’s Great Cranleigh Kauri Run on the Coromandel and ends with Mt Ruapehu’s
The Goat Alpine Adventure Run in early December, an event Corporaal has won for the last two years. The fastest man and woman across all three Triple Crown races will collect an extra $1000 cash prize, while there are also prizes this year in the masters ranks (40-49) and the classic division (50+).
The top five open men and women in each event will qualify for points, with bonus points for breaking race records, and the runners with the most points at the end collect the cash.
“The Triple Crown concept got off to a great start last year when Ben Ruthe reigned supreme and the level of interest has increased dramatically this year,” Triple Crown spokesmen Jason Cameron and Andy Reid said. “The trail-running explosion has continued and these three events under the Triple Crown umbrella are definitely the place to be for any serious off-road athlete at this time of year.”
Starting and finishing in Whakatane, tomorrow’s Toi's Challenge follows the trails and pa sites of the great Maori chieftain Toi and includes bird colonies, sea cliffs, magnificent stands of pohutukawa trees and the fabulous Ohope Beach.
The Great Cranleigh Kauri Run is the longest of the three events at 32km (with a shorter 13km option). It takes runners from the white sands of Waikawau Beach up and across the spine of the Coromandel Peninsula into Coromandel township, through stunning native bush and forest.
The Goat Alpine Adventure Run, meanwhile, is an awe-inspiring 21km trail run around the flanks of Mt Ruapehu, set amongst sub-alpine tussock in the world-renowned Tongariro National Park, taking runners from the Whakapapa to Turoa ski-fields.