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Xterra Trail Challenge Waihi Report

Xterra Trail Challenge Waihi- I would say put the emphasis on “Challenge’! On a good day the trails of Karangahake Gorge near Waihi would serve up a Challenge- steep, rugged and technical (especially those used for the marathon and ultra course)- add in a huge amount of rain during the races (7, 13, 19, 42 and 60km options are available at Waihi) and you have a very challenging  yet very enjoyable day out.

As we said above there were a lot of events on and to report on all these would take a pretty long winded report and a lot of research to do it well, so we will focus on the ultra and the 19km races.

The 60km Ultra, Total Sports first dabble at an ultra event, kicked off at 5am, adding a good 90mins of night running to the already tricky conditions, that included a river crossing and even a large Bull to sidestep. Local lad Dennis de Monchy made the most of local knowledge  good technical running skills and a sun like head lamp in the early hours to take out the inaugural ”Kaimai Killer”. Dennis running strong and consistent all day virtually lead from start to finish, finishing in 7hr03, ahead of Grant Guise in in 7hr09 and another local boy (and BCR guest poster for the Waihi preview) Darren Blackwell in 3rd place.

For the women, as Darren predicted, Vicky Plaistowe took out the women’s race despite running her knee into a tree at full speed. The results currently have not included Vicky or her time(??), but in 2nd place was Stacy Smith and 3rd was Vicki Woolley.

The 19km at Xterra Waihi is also the National Trail Running Champs with spots at the World Xterra Champs up for grabs and drew deep fields.

In the womens race recent WMRC competitors Helen Rountree and Marjolein Ros duked it out in the mud and rain, with Rountree (1hr50) coming in 2mins ahead of Ros, and Katy Dawson rounded out the top 3. (see below for Helen’s comments on the race)

The men’s National Trail Running Champs was stacked, and that was before the late entry of Chris “I have won pretty much every trail race at one time or another” Morrissey turned up. World age group Xterra winner Nick Hirschfeld lined up despite having the flu, but pulled the plug at the  Dubbo 96 track. Meanwhile Glenn Hughes was smashing the uphill around Karangahaki and ran away with the win in 1hr33, 3mins ahead of Chris Morrissey and 4mins ahead of Vajin Armstrong.

Interesting to note the winners of the Xterra National Trail Running Champs Helen and Glenn both recently represented NZ at the World Mountain Running Champs in Italy and last weekend both were members of winning teams at the ANZ National Road Relays. Both showed how versatile they are and in the conditions on Saturday “the course suits a road runner” argument could hardly be used. 

We have a few longer race reports and a few shorter ones, so we will include the shorter ones here in this post and add the longer race reports today or tomorrow in separate posts.

RESULTS HERE

Glenn Hughes race report HERE

Dennis de Monchy race report HERE

Mal Law’s GPS from the “Kaimai Killer” HERE

James Kuegler’s 19km race report HERE

Photography from the day by Paul Petch HERE

Vicky Plaistowe- Photo Paul Petch, OutdoorPhotography.co.nz

Helen Rountree- Xterra National Trail Running Champ- “Was an awesome day. That was my first ever trail run besides the mountain running events. Really enjoyed it and came away with some wickedly sore body parts from smashing into trees and having some massive wipeouts coming down. Also shouldn’t have worn racing flats, hehe they just made me slip everywhere.  Really scary as I had no control at all, so downhills were pretty average. I think if the weather wasn’t so awful I would have enjoyed it a bit more but overall was an awesome introduction to trail running.  I hadn’t even thought about the Xterra Worlds in Hawaii as only entered this race to see how I liked it. Next up I’m doing mount Edgecumbe race in a few weeks.”

Vicky Plaistowe winner of the inaugural Kaimai Killer Ultra- “Was a truly stunning run but not a great run for me….the universe came back and bit me on the butt for indulging in my silliest idea so far. Game plan was to run the marathon as training having just built back up to 4 runs a week post an injury. However the beautiful terrain and my trail mates excitement at running the ultra along with their encouragement had me upgrading in a flash.What played out on the day was my toughest run mentally and physically. I smashed my quad straight into a fallen punga 2km into the race and spent the rest of it slowly deteriorating as my gait became increasingly impacted and my ability to deal with the pain eroded. The descents normally so much fun became things to dread and it all went to pieces on Mt Karangahake. With 10km to go it was just a matter of trying to get myself to the finish line where I actually thought I would just sit down and have a wee cry.

As a weekend, awesome! Great tough course, cool event, amazing people and incredible camaraderie. I hobbled away with special memories, new friendships and some hard earned lessons.”

Keep an eye out for race reports from Glenn and Dennis in the next day or 2. Also a big thank you to Rob Bathgate who fired out some great BCR updates on Saturday in the rain. Hopefully Rob will be back racing again soon, if not will will try and twist his arm again for some updates!


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  1. That’s not my middle name. It’s “John”.

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A Backcountry Running Community for New Zealand trail, mountain and ultra runners- We want this to be the place you come for all things trail running including race previews and reports, interviews with New Zealand runners and hopefully a whole lot more! Our aim is to provide as much original content- previews/reports/interviews on New Zealand trail, mountain and ultra races. We can't be everywhere- so feel free to get in touch if you have the scoop on a race or event.

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