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Triple Peaks Challenge

The Triple Peaks Challenge celebrated its 25th year this past Saturday, and was held in cool but stunning conditions, incorporating a 47km loop course from the Havelock North Domain in Hawkes Bay. Barefoot Inc NZ Athlete Kristian Day, riding a wave of form he showed running a solid MoonlightShotover, won the Triple Peaks unchallenged in 4hr14. Below is Kristian’s rundown of the TPC course.

The course is roughly 65% off road cross country, 20% grass/dirt farm road, 10% tarseal and 5% true single track with a few river crossings and fence jumps thrown into the mix. The race is one that comes with a bare bones, no bullshit type of attitude. The “aid stations” are pretty lacking and the course marking is even worse but that’s what makes this event special. It’s a true local gem that the entire community seems to back and the laid back attitude is infectious and makes a pleasant change from the super glamorous races that are quickly popping up throughout the race calendar.

The race itself starts with a 2-3km hash right through the guts of Havelock North village, stomping through cafe foyers and knocking over anyone out for their Saturday morning tea and Scones. Almost instantly the course starts to climb gently towards the summit of Mt. Erin, more of a large hill than a mountain but still high enough to get whipped around by some crispy winds. After taking the summit, the course plummets towards the river and the first transition area at around 13km.

Through the transition area another long but gentle climb takes competitors to the summit of Kahuranaki, the highest point of the day at around 700m or so, tagging the top at roughly 22km. The descent back down Kahuranaki is long and fast as it’s on farm roads and tripping over cow shit is a real possibility as is being taken out by hooning mountain bikers who are completing the same course. After dropping off the top, an undulating mix of single track and open farms takes competitors through a waist high river crossing and into the 2nd major transition area at around 34km. You could grab a banana here if you want, but I prefer to just top up the water bottle with coke and stomp on up the road towards the final peak of the day.

The final climb up Te Mata peak is achieved via the infamous goat track, which to be fair could put a lot of “mountain races” to shame with its pitch and scrambley nature in places. A fairly rude awakening after roughly 40km or so. Once at the trig at the top it’s another sharp descent back into the redwoods at the base. This year there was a lovely group of ladies up the top who I had some quick banter with around the pros and cons of having gin and tonic on a race like this, we all decided it was a great idea.

Once at the bottom it’s a quick jaunt through a rock garden followed by another 2-3 km of road before you’re back where you started and eating free muffins and milkshakes put on by the local church. Choice.

Overall the course climbs around 1500-1700m, fairly benign in terms of off road runs, but a tough and achievable challenge for anyone who takes it on, which of course is exactly what the organizers want. The Kiwi Adventure Trust specialize in outdoor activities that boost confidence and self esteem in both children and adults alike. Needless to say they certainly hit the ball out of the park with this event.


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  1. What Kristian didn’t say was that he smashed the race beating the second place finisher by around 20 minutes. He also got a mighty large trophy, which we understand needs a little repair.

    We are hoping that this year will see the launch of a Hawkes’ Bay trifecta of challenging off-road races. The Cape Kidnappers Challenge, The BCR Kaweka Mountain Marathon and the Triple Peaks Challenge will show you Hawek’s Bay at its most magnificent.

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