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Colin Earwaker competing in the opening race of this year's Triple Crown series at the Toi's Challenge run in Whakatane. CREDIT: Triple Crown
Sjors Corporaal competing in the opening race of this year's Triple Crown series at the Toi's Challenge run in Whakatane. CREDIT: Triple Crown
Sjors Corporaal is entering unknown territory when he chases another title in the North Island Triple Crown trail-running series on Saturday.
Not only will it be the first time the Galatea farmer has raced the 32km Great Cranleigh Kauri Run, it will be the first time he’s ever attempted that sort of distance.
“Hopefully the body holds out – I’ve never run 32km in my life,” Corporaal admitted. “I got up to 25km in a training run but that was just plodding along.”
He’ll be coming in off some decent form, albeit not much rest – on Sunday he took out the first race in the Triple Crown, the 18km Toi’s Challenge race in Whakatane.
And he’s also a two-time winner of the third event in the series, The Goat Alpine Adventure Run, an awe-inspiring 21km trail run around the flanks of Mt Ruapehu from the Whakapapa to Turoa ski-fields.
But this is the first year he’s taken the running game seriously. Previously, he’s relied on a mix of rural fitness and bushcraft honed while pig-hunting in the steep ravines around his Bay of Plenty farm.
“I’m doing a lot more running and I joined the Lake City club this year and it’s really paid off. In previous years, I was relying on natural fitness from hunting and farming but I’ve been getting up to 80km a week. Now every time I enter a race, I’m surprised with how well it goes. The hunting has taken a bit of a back seat but I’ll be getting back into the bush again once these runs are out of the way.”
Corporaal will resume his duel with Hamilton’s Kerry Suter, who led at the halfway mark in the Toi’s Challenge race before being run down.
Suter also came third at the Kauri Run last year and seems to thrive when the distances increase, having claimed the 41km Kaweka Challenge title earlier this year, but he knows beating Corporaal won’t be an easy task.
“The thing about Sjors is that he’s fitter than he is strong but he’s still really strong,” Suter said. “He’s got to be the odds-on favourite for the Triple Crown and he’s pretty incredible – he’s like a cross between Fred Dagg and Sir Edmund Hilary, the quintessential Kiwi bloke.”
The favourite in the women’s race is former Rotorua mountain biking star Annika Smail, who took out the Toi’s run and also won The Goat last year.
The Kauri Run the longest of the three Triple Crown events taking runners from the white sands of Waikawau Beach up and across the spine of the Coromandel Peninsula into Coromandel township.
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+).
Rotorua’s Colin Earwaker is a hot favourite for the classic division after demolishing his rivals in Whakatane, setting a new course record for his agegroup. The 53-year-old also finished fifth overall in last year’s Kauri Run, clocking 2hrs 44mins 28secs, just 17mins behind Ben Ruthe’s new course record.
Both defending champions – Ruthe and Australian marathon star Hanny Allston – will miss Saturday’s race.