EASTERN Bay athletes showed the Aussies the way to climb mountains in a hurry at last weekend’s Pomona King of the Mountain race at Mount Cooroora on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
Edgecumbe College student Jana Longney won the female junior division of the event and was 45th overall with a base to finish time of 37 minutes 42 seconds.
She said it was a wonderful experience that she will remember for a lifetime.
“It’s been great to be able to share the same passion with so many others and to have the opportunity to commit to a consistent learning experience,” she said.
“This was the second year that I’ve participated in the Pomona King of the Mountain festival. The lovely welcome from the community and the race directors who organise an amazing event was breath-taking and always makes me want to come back.”
She said the great hospitality and the immense effort of the supporting crowd lining and bordering the road was overwhelming.
“It makes you look forward as they cheer you home.
“The crew that are always smiling and encouraging as you climb up the rocky mountain is always inspiring, and the view was wonderful from the top. The vast picture of the
Australian landscape up there is truly breathtaking.
“Mountain running isn’t just about the placing, but the journey and friends that you make through it.”
Jana said it was great meeting old friends in Australia who had come to New Zealand to participate on Mt Putauaki over the years through the Trans-Tasman relationship, and there were plenty of long conversations and many shared laughs and smiles.
“Pomona King of the Mountain is something that I won’t forget. It has allowed me to broaden my horizons, and I would like to thank everyone who helped and supported me on my journey.”
Opotiki’s Luke Seufert was also a winner at Pomona, taking out first place in his category and sixth overall in the race.
The Trident High School student said the race was a great experience.
“I am stoked and I loved it. It is the people turning up and cheering you on; even the runners were really into it and having a good time.
“I had a bit of a plan. You pace yourself for Kawerau, here [at Pomona] it is a bit of a sprint, but when the uphill came I just started hacking it. I was not as cautious of my pace as I usually am.”
He said the climb up Mt Cooroora was quite different from the ascent of Putauaki.
“[At Pomona] You have the chain to pull on. With Putauaki it takes twice as long to climb up, so you have to know where to put in your energy. The uphill here [Pomona] is steeper at sections, but I don’t think it is any harder.”
Whakatane runner Teunis Schonveld placed fourth overall and second in the veterans’ section of the race.
“It was awesome, but tough, because it’s a sprint in comparison to Putauaki,” he said.
“The terrain is steeper, and it’s rocky and slippery because of the dust on the rocks.
“We arrived in Thursday night and went to take a look at the mountain on Friday. We were gobsmacked at how steep and slippery it was, but on race day it was fine. I just followed my feet down.”
He said the first kilometre was fairly flat, through forest. “Eight Aussies took off on that section, but once we got to the hill we overtook one or two of them on the way up and, Glen [Stricot-Tarboton, formerly of Whakatane] passed all of them on the way down, only to be pipped at the post on the flat. The same happened to me in the veterans’ section and I was second.
He made special mention of the help he received from his employer Simon Wren, who gave him time to compete and also to sort out his passport.
The event is part of a trans-Tasman challenge with the Kawerau King of the Mountain race.
Since 1985 Kawerau and Pomona have shared a unique relationship where every year placegetters in the previous year’s race in Kawerau embark on a mid-winter trip to take on the Australians on their own turf.