CHRIS Morrissey reaches the top of Mount Putauaki during the Kawerau King of the Mountain race on Saturday. The former Eastern Bay runner was one of 156 competitors who took on the race – won by Australian Ben Duffus.
AUSTRALIAN Ben Duffus won his second Kawerau King of the Mountain title on Saturday.
Duffus tore down Mount Putauaki in 13 minutes 26 seconds to earn a comfortable victory in 49.32.
He was first to the top, where he led the field by three minutes, and then crossed the finish line ahead of 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’ compatriot Meg Reeves completed the event’s first ever Australian double, as she won the women’s race in one hour three minutes.
She had an even more comfortable victory, finishing seven minutes ahead of runner-up Anna O’Brien.
Kaye Watkins was the top female Eastern Bay runner, finishing fourth in 1.14 and 24 seconds ahead of fifth-placed Hayley Jones.
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.
Opotiki runners and Trident High School students Luke Seufert and Isobel Wotton claimed the junior titles.
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.
There were 156 runners on the mountain and while times may have been behind the blistering pace set in recent years, there were some frantic finishes at Firmin Field.
Just three seconds separated Glen Stricot-Tarboton, Ben Miller and Nathan Gebert who claimed fifth to seventh place.
Four-time champion Galatea’s Sjors Corporaal finished in eighth place, just ahead of son Kaya Henderson Corporaal.
Whakatane runner Teunis Schoneveld snuck under the 60-minute mark. Spurred on by the crowd, he crossed the finish line in 59.58.
No records were broken in the prince and princess race, with 109 runners between nine and 13-years-old traversing 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 produced the winning teams in both age groups for the school relay events.
King of the mountain
Top 10 men
1 Ben Duffus 49.32
2 Chris Morrissey 54.34
3 Andrius Ramonas 54.57
4 Luke Seufert 56.10
5 Glen Stricot-Tarboton 57.06
6 Ben Miller 57.08
7 Nathan Gebert 57.09
8 Sjors Corporaal 57.45
9 Kaya Henderson Corporaal 59.09
10 Teunis Schoneveld 59.58
Top 10 women
1 Meg Reeves 1.03.13
2 Anna O’Brien 1.10.30
3 Katie Lilley 1.11.30
4 Kaye Watkins 1.14.29
5 Hayley Jones 1.14.53
6 Rebecca Bylsma 1.20.24
7 Isobel Wotton 1.21.19
8 Cassie Sutherland 1.24.45
9 Samantha Hodgins 1.27.00
10 Elena Miller 1.27.43