2007 Mountain Race Report by Steve Brightwell, Race Co-director
Experience and determination kept Kawerau’s King of the Mountain Chris Morrissey firmly on his throne on Saturday as the five-times champ made yet another successful defence of the title.
The former New Zealand mountain running representative now goes to six in a row, while on the women’s side of the ledger another former national rep, Meagan Edhouse, took her tally of Queen titles to a record 10.
Both saw off stern challenges, with Morrissey having the tougher time of it as the expected gunfight with rising star Daniel Jones went all the way to the line.
The 17-year-old Jones stuck to his Whakatane Harrier club-mate Morrissey’s heels almost every step of the way with just 8 seconds between them at the top of the 789m ascent of Mt Putauaki.
The downhill dash proved equally tight and, although the pair took different routes on the lower section of the mountain, they were still neck and neck when they hit the road back to the Firmin Field finish line.
Only as they made the final climb along the tarseal was Morrissey able to put enough breathing space on his young adversary to allow him to once again claim the King of the Mountain title.
Jones crossed the line just 15 seconds in arrears with both runners completing the round trip in less than 50 minutes.
By contrast the women’s race was a far more cat and mouse affair.
Edhouse topped the hill trailing Australian mountain running champ Hubertein Wichers by nearly 90 seconds.
But Edhouse hasn’t won the race 10 times by luck, and knowing she was always going to be a stronger downhill runner on a mountain she knows like the back of her hand, was able to run the Australian down well before the finish line.
In the end it was a comfortable enough win and just reward for a runner who had also made a huge effort behind the scenes as the race co-director.
While the King and Queen races played out much as expected, there were also few surprises within the grades.
Australians Neil Labinsky (senior men) and Grant Gilbert (vet men) made a good fist of their races to finish second in division behind Morrissey and Gary Schwass (Whakatane) respectively.
The fourth of the Australian contingent Brendon Fenwick (junior men) also made it to the podium in his division albeit only the bottom step with Jones winning and Sam Clark (Kawerau) claiming second place with his first sub-60 minute run.
In the women’s divisions Whakatane’s Kelly Jones took the senior women’s title ahead of Stephanie Pearson of Rotorua, and in the junior ranks Taumarunui’s Melissa Murrihy proved too strong for Hayley Jones (Whakatane) the pair being separated by three-minutes at the finish.
The surprise package of the event was Galatea farmer Sijors Corporaal, a runner who has largely slipped under the radar of the
Eastern Bay multisport community.
Corporaal ran to a fine fourth place overall in 52 minutes 50 seconds, but more significantly set the day’s fastest downhill time with a staggering 15.05 return to the startline; some 18 seconds quicker than winner Morrissey.
Earlier in the day, the Prince and Princess titles went to the fancied runners.
Whakatane’s Shay Williamson led the field home ahead of Camaro Floyd (Kawerau) with both going under the existing course record.
Williamson’s rewriting of the record books was undoubtedly the outstanding feat of the day and has set him up as one to watch when he steps up to the mountain proper next year.
The Murrihy ensured their stranglehold on the Princess title continued with Zara adding her name to the trophy for this year and with sister Serena claiming second place, it looks like the tradition will continue a wee while longer yet.
King of the Mountain: Senior – Chris Morrissey 49.34 1 (KING), Neil
Labinsky 51.53 2, Sijors Corporaal 52.50 3; junior – Daniel Jones 49.49 1, Sam
Clark 57.42 2, Brendon Fenwick 1.01.09 3; vet – Gary Schwass 57.54 1, Grant
Gilbert 58.50 2, Jim Robinson 1.01.10 3.
Queen of the Mountain: Senior – Kelly Jones 1.25.54 1, Stephanie
Pearson 1.33.17 2, Mihiata Ruri 2.03.45 3; junior – Melissa Murrihy 1.11.55 1,
Hayley Jones 1.14.26 2, Natasha Murrihy 1.22.30 3; vet – Meagan Edhouse 1.03.14
1 (QUEEN), Hubertein Wichers 1.05.57 2, Cheryl Everest 1.16.43 3.
Prince of the Mountain: Shay Williamson 19.25.4 (record) 1, Camaro
Floyd 20.27.9 2, Bradley Jones 21.48.5 3.
Princess of the Mountain: Zara Murrihy 25.47.2 1, Serena Murrrihy
26.34.6 2, Daneek Masters-Hall 27.06.0 3.