Kauri Run- Chris Morrissey Report

After Chris Morrissey’s quick preview of this past Saturdays show down at the 32km Kauri Run, Chris follows up with the below race report on how his day when.

The 10th Great Cranleigh Kauri Run was set to be a fight between past and present men’s  champions, with four previous winners on the start line. Through no intentional organization the previous three mens winners of the Classic 32km had returned to defend their titles.
Sjors Corporaal owned the race record at 2:25:35 which he set in 2009 followed up by a second win in February 2011. With a second race in the same year Vajin and I were set to race each other for the first time. Unfortunately Vajin pulled out before the start with an injury in the hope that he would recover before he would take on the Kepler. I went on to win  the November 2011 event in a PB of 2:37:09. We were due to meet again last year but my brothers wedding took care of my appearance at the Kauri so Vajin went on to win and set a PB himself of 2:35:53.
Not to be discounted was previous winner Colin Earwaker with a PB of 2:34:09 which he set as a 50 year old.
With the tide in and a two kilometer stretch of soft sand to start with this year, the possibility of fast times was made harder. At the gun everyone set off at a fairly conservative pace. Vajin explored for firmer sand down at the waters edge getting his feet wet in the process. I had a look up higher than the high tide line and tried landing on random bits of washed up seaweed for traction. None of the lead pack seemed to have the same gait as me so I was resigned to the fact that I would just have to put up with the soft sand. With 500m to go along the beach I decided to have a look down by the waters edge and found some firm sand. Unfortunately I also found the water but with ankle deep stream crossing at the end of the beach it didn’t matter too much.


Sjors on his way to another Kauri title. Photo courtesy of Dawn Tuffery

Leaving the beach Vajin set the pace with Sjors close behind. 13km runner Lance Downie of Murupara and I followed a few metres back. Over two sets of styles at the bush edge and the group closed up. We followed Vajin through a few stream crossings before Sjors decided to take a slightly straighter route and the lead at the same time. Within seconds he had a 10 metre lead on us. I sat behind Vajin as he pushed a little harder to stay with Sjors. A small gap opened between Vajin and I for a minute or so until it was clear that Sjors was on a mission. I caught up a little on Vajin but at the same time was feeling far from spritely. The first steep incline I had to watch Vajin cruise away while I struggled to even run. Lance was still on my heels keeping me honest but I was feeling more and more…. the best way I can describe it is by blowing a raspberry. Only about 4 km in and my legs weren’t really there.
After a small chat with Lance I told him when we were near the top of the first summit and to go in front of me ( for his own good and in the hope that I would feel better with someone to chase). That didn’t work.
Out into the open farm land I could see Sjors cresting the hill on the skyline about three minutes in front, Vajin about half that and Lance about 80 metres in front of me. Trying to be an optimist I thought it wasn’t bad- bad. Not all is lost.
Across the farm land and onto the 4×4 track through the native bush it was obvious that it had been a fairly dry November in the Coromandel. The tracks were the driest I had ever seen them with the biggest puddles being the splashes from dropped cups after drink stations. Running in Karhu flow3 road shoes turned out to be the right decision. No need for excessive grip, just cushioning.
With some of the 70 km  and 23km runners in front there was often someone to focus on. About an hour in climbing some of the steeper sections of track hands on knees, I was beginning to realize that the arc of my sunscreen application on my shoulder blades was slightly smaller than the arc of my singlet. I could almost feel the two crescent shaped sunburn patterns forming on my back.  I pushed on happy with the fact that no one had caught me and knowing  the final descent wasn’t too far off.


Chris well of his best time at the Kauri Run, but stil good enough for 3rd place!  Photo courtesy of Dawn Tuffery.

With 8 km to go I started clock watching, something that I usually never do until the finishing chute. I must have been having fun because time was flying by too fast for my liking. I hit the road with 2 km to go a minute over my previous finishing time. With no pressure and no sign of Vajin or Sjors who incidentally had already finished by that time, I tried to finish strong stopping the clock 8 minutes slower than last time.
Up front Sjors was over 12 minutes ahead and Vajin was possibly close enough behind to catch a glimpse on the long straights into the centre of Coromandel township.
The highlight of the day for me was not watching these two legends disappear out of sight rather quickly or the fact the Kerry Suter repeated his 70 km ultra victory. The highlight for me was made up of two things. The post prize giving finish of 32km competitor, 82year old Brian Smith of Huntly who struggled with the dappled light beneath the trees because of his deteriorating sight. This is a gentleman that turns up to almost as many trail races as I do. If he isn’t racing on the day, I would imagine there is probably another race on somewhere else that he’s doing. The second highlight was the fact that the majority of those present at the prize giving returned to the finishing chute to cheer him on. As he broke into a jog across the field to the finish I must have got a bit of dust in my eye or something.
Thanks to Keith, Andy and their team at ARC event for putting on another great race. It’s nice to know that for everyone that runs in the Kauri Run, a kauri tree is planted somewhere along the course.
Next up in two weeks I race Sjors again at the Goat. Hopefully, I will be trialing the trail version of the Karhu Flow3 which are due to arrive in the country early December. It would be nice to close the gap a little on Sjors and get closer to the 2 hour mark.

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