OPOTIKI'S Luke Seufert gives a big thumbs up as he stands under a spray of cold water at the end of the Kawerau King of the Mountain Race. Photo Troy Baker D9163-082

TRIDENT High School’s Luke Seufert had intended to do the Kawerau King of the Mountain race with his stepfather until that changed two months ago.

Luke’s stepdad Trevor died about two months ago from a heart attack, leaving him without his running partner, but this fired up the 17-year-old.

He went out and smashed the course with a time of 54 minutes and eight seconds, to finish second behind winner Sam Clark.

Luke, who hails from Opotiki, was wearing race number 1958, the year his stepfather was born to have him present in some way throughout the race.

“I knew my stepdad was there with me the whole way, he was helping push me through the race.

“I just wanted to do him proud really, and I think I did that.’’

The avid runner’s goal was simple, beat the 60-minute mark.

“That was my target and to go out there and smash it like that and I am stoked, I know he was cheering me on up, and there running beside me.’’

It was his first competitive run since losing his stepfather, who he would constantly go on runs with.

“The course was in fantastic shape; the uphill was tough but once I got to the top I just wanted to kick on in the downhill section and felt pretty good.’’

Luke, who finished fourth in 2018, was pleased for race winner Clark.

“I am stoked he won, he did well but it was also really nice to beat the Aussies. That was a good feeling.’’

Early in the race he was tucked in fifth place behind a pair of Australians, Sam Clark and Kaia Henderson but made his move during the back half of the race.

Luke is excited at the Pomona challenge ahead of him, which is the Australian equivalent of this race that he gets automatic entry to as he finished in the top 10 of King of the Mountain.

Race director Lee Barton said Luke was a quality athlete.

“He’s a fantastic runner, I didn’t quite think he would finish that high but am not surprised he ran a sub 60 time, he’s a very good runner.’’

“It was a fantastic day overall and thankfully nothing went wrong and it seemed to all run smoothly,’’ Barton said.

Four other competitors from Opotiki took part, females Pia Roemer and Milla Dibben finished 73rd and 81st overall, while Asger Evans and Yanni Eleftheriadis finished behind

Luke in 41st and 55th respectively.

All up 145 competitors took part in the main race.