Race Preview: Dark horse Duffus the one to watch

Date published: October 30, 2013 at 11:36 am | Comments

On Saturday 2nd November the 58th Kawerau King of the Mountain will once again take to the Eastern Bay of Plenty’s most striking landmark, Putauaki – Mount Edgecumbe.

New Zealand’s longest running, often respected as the toughest mountain race, has a mighty reputation in Aotearoa and across the Tasman at the sister race, Pomona.

In 2013 the Australian contingent could arguably be the strongest yet, but possibly the most unpredictable team to represent Australia in the Trans Tasman Mountain Race Challenge.

Ben Duffus (Pomona King) will be looking to carry his outstanding Pomona victory in 2013 into another surprise victory in Kawerau. Duffus shocked many on lookers in Pomona when he took out the title in his first ever race in an impressive time of 24:22. In doing so he managed to see off challenges from Kawerau’s 2013 King, Chris Morrissey and the long time King of the Mountain, Neil Labinsky.

Duffus has represented Australia as a junior in the world mountain running champs and plies his trade more as an ultra runner. Putauaki will be a whole new beast though and experience in Kawerau is often the point of difference.

Defending King Morrissey has been in amazing form since winning the Kawerau title in 2012, he will be the man to beat this year as he strives ever closer towards the elusive 10 titles. His most likely opponent will be the Galatea pig hunter and previous King title holder, Sjors Corporaal, who on his day is a worthy King and certain crowd favourite.

With no Shay Williamson this year (injured) the most likely junior to make a decent challenge will be Glen Stricot-Tarboton, who has been making impressive times in training and represented well in Pomona finishing 5th overall and just behind the Aussie junior Bryce Hegarty.

Hegarty, from Tinbeerwah posted a 27:32 in Pomona and will no doubt give Stricot-Tarboton a run for his money but the local experience should see Stricot-Tarboton home on this occasion.

Ben Mcmullen is the Aussie veteran making his first trip to Kawerau and he will no doubt have a great dual with Andrew Town (Wanaka, NZ) Town was the first vet in Pomona back in July and represented New Zealand and Kawerau with a fine achievement. Gary Schwass , theWhakatane veteran will also be hoping to grab another sub 60 time after coming so close back in 2012.

In the race for Queen supremacy the Pomona veteran Hubertien Wichers will once again represent Australia and Wichers won in Kawerau in 2011. Wichers came 3rd lady in Pomona this year but has 5 Pomona and 1 Kawerau Queen Titles to her name.

With the 2012 Kawerau Queen Helen Rountree yet to indicate her intent this could play into Wichers hands. Previous Kawerau Queen Demelza Murrihy (Wellington) could be the only other likely NZ female to take out the title.

In the Prince & Princess of the Mountain race the 2012 Prince, Kaya Corporaal will be a certain favourite to do it again in 2013. Whilst the Princess could go to any girl this year, especially with last year’s Queen Serena Murrihy now ineligible to race having cometh of age to run in the main event.

For the first time in 2013 the iconic (and free entry) Prince & Princess race will offer chip timing with summit split times allowing for accurate up, down and overall times. The organisers would like to acknowledge NZCT for their ongoing support of this event and making the timing and all other essential safety services possible.

The race day schedule:

  • The Radio 1XX School Relays – 9.30am
  • The Norske Skog Tasman Prince & Princess – 11.00am
  • The Kawerau King of the Mountain – 12.00pm
  • Prize Giving – 3.00pm

Online entries still available up until 31 Oct via www.EnterOnline.co.nz

Race Day entries available at the Mighty River Power registration marquee.

All race results will be posted on the Kawerau King of the Mountain Facebook page as soon as possible after the race.

With the countdown to the 60th anniversary year bubbling away behind the scenes with big celebrations planned the next two races will be fine precursors for what will be arguably the finest mountain race ever to be held in the Southern hemisphere, 2015 will be a big year.


Source: Kawerau District Council