The Kawerau Mountain Races did not disappoint on a sun soaked day in the heart of the Bay of Plenty. The Radio 1XX School Relays kicked off the day with a fine win from Kawerau South School closely followed by Allandale School in Whakatane.
As the crowds gathered en masse for the superb curtain raiser, the Norske Skog Tasman Prince & Princess of the Mountain race had a massive field of 200 young hopefuls from across the Bay of Plenty and further afield. Largely tipped as the favourite Kaya Henderson-Corporaal took out his first ever Prince Title and probably not his last, he was followed by Jarod Gebbett and another promising future potential Regan Wilson in 3rd place.
Previous holder Serena Murrihy from Wellington seized her last opportunity due to maturing to the main event next year and she will get her name etched on the Princess trophy with a fine win, followed with local junior super star, Jayda Stewart in 2nd and last year’s Princess, Evelyn Barton joining her counterparts on the podium in 3rd place.
A late flurry of last minute entries delivered a dramatically improved field of entrants compared to 2011 and a field of absolute class was on show. Sjors Corporaal, Chris Morrissey, Sam Clark, defending King Shay Williamson, Andrew Town, Stefan Wagner, Colin Earwaker, Meagan Edhouse and Helen Rountree were just a few of the top class athletes on the start line.
As the mid morning heat took its grip on the competitors, midday approached and the dash to gain supremacy took place. The huge crowd were not disappointed as the runners screamed over the Waterhouse St Bridge to head off up Putauaki.
It was Corporaal that made the early running determined to shake off any rivals before the serious climb began. Corporaal led 7 times King Chris Morrissey a third of the way up the climb with Williamson tucked in 3rd place. It was Morrissey who made the summit first and well ahead of Corporaal.
This is how it finished, Morrissey turned his 7 titles into 8 and it was an incredibly strong performance from a man who is likely to permanently have his name remembered in the Mountain Race history as one of the greats as he edges closer to the lucrative 10 titles achieved before by only a handful of previous Kings.
This year’s Queens Title was secured by the first timer Hamilton Hawk, Helen Rountree with Meagan Edhouse still showing her true class as she came over the finish in 2nd place along with Kaye Watkins in 3rd and Demelza Murrihy-Topp in 4th.
Seven men made the Sub 60 club on a day that didn’t prove to be a record breaking year with the heat of the day taking a brutal toll on any efforts to make it a speedy one, despite what was widely seen as a very fast course in 2012.
Special acknowledgement to all the volunteers and sponsors on another fantastic mountain race in Kawerau, we look forward to another great race in 2013 and what will be another step closer to the 60th anniversary of this iconic race.
Full results can be found here