OPOTIKI runners Luke Seufert and Isobel Wotton claimed junior titles at last weekend’s King of the Mountain race in Kawerau.
The Trident High School students were among 156 runners to take on the gruelling seven kilometre run up and down Mount Putauaki on Saturday.
Luke won the under-20 men’s section, and placed fourth overall, in 56 minutes 10 seconds while Isobel was seventh woman overall and led the junior women with a one hour 21-minute effort.
For both it was their third time competing and their best result to date. In previous events Luke has placed 24th and 10th overall, and seventh and third in the junior men’s category, while Isobel has placed 82nd and 77th overall, and fifth and third in the junior women’s category.
“I’m pretty stoked to come away with winning the junior age group,” Luke said.
He said he first heard about the race from some friends, and decided to take on the mountain.
“I wanted to see if I was up to the challenge.”
From there, a passion for the race has grown.
“I am definitely aiming to come back every year to further better my time,” said Luke.
This year’s race was won by Australian Ben Duffus in a time of 49.32 with former Eastern
Bay runner, and eight-time winner, Chris Morrissey, who ran 54.34. Andrius Ramonas, in his first Kawerau race, finished third in 54.57.
Duffus’ winning time was three minutes slower than his first title-winning effort in 2015 and 10 runners finished inside an hour compared with at least 20 in the past two years.
The prince and princess races attracted 109 runners aged between nine and 13 who traversed the lower foothills of Putauaki.
This year’s prince was 11-year-old Allandale School student Oliver Christie who won in 22 minutes 10 seconds. Cory Warneford placed second in 22.53 and Xavier Christie finished in third place in 23.57. Sophie Kirk claimed the princess title in 24.35 and Kawerau athletes Waimania Rangiaho, 25.22, and Hazel Tunisha Gates-Paul, 26.41, completed the top three.
Kawerau South School were the winning teams in both age groups for the school relay events.