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On Sunday July 26th 2015, the Kawerau & Pomona Trans-Tasman International Mountain Race Challenge share 30 years of mountain running rivalry.
This twin sister tussle forms its roots back in 1985 when a distinguished Kawerau lady took a holiday to the Sunshine Coast in Australia, during which time discovered the unique mountain race in Pomona, just inland from Noosa.
Rosalie (Rose) Hyland with husband Howard (both from Kawerau) deservedly became the first ever New Zealand female to win the Pomona Queen of the Mountain, this on the back of a 1984 Kawerau Queen title.
It was Howard who had revived the then Tasman Mountain Race (now Kawerau King of the Mountain) in the late 70’s and had gradually lifted the profile of the Kawerau race; which was establishing itself as one of the must do mountain races in Australasia.
The suggestion was tabled between corresponding race directors as to the possibility of a reciprocal agreement to grant the top place getters (King, Queen, Vet and Junior) to annually travel across the ditch and compete in the others race. The deal was done and hasn’t been broken in 30 years.
The past three decades has seen many top class athletes cross the Tasman and compete in the opposite’s race. These have included runners of exceptional talent representing their nation at world level.
In 2015 the largest contingency of Kiwi runners will make their presence known in Pomona:
Defending 2014 Kawerau King Shay Williamson, has two King titles to his name with a Kawerau PB (48.09). This will be his fourth attempt in Pomona and Kiwi hopes of a first Pomona crown since 2005 (Chris Morrissey) lie with Williamson, who at the age of 21 has a massive mountain running future ahead of him.
Defending 2014 Kawerau Queen Ruby Muir, became the first ever female to SUB 60 on debut in Kawerau (and barefooted in the final km), this will be Muir’s debut in Pomona and comes off the back of her 1st road marathon title (Wellington) and 2nd Tarawera Ultramarathon title earlier this year; Muir is an athlete of extremely high calibre and seemingly capable of anything, records could topple.
Hayden Wilde bolsters the NZ team as the first Kawerau junior (4th overall) in 2014. Wilde has become a junior icon in the Eastern Bay of Plenty and a must watch across the New Zealand multisport circuit. He has the world at his feet for his sporting future and presently holds the NZ/Australasian U19 Multi Sport and NZ U23 Xterra Titles.
Colin Earwaker (former Veteran 50+ World mountain running champ) rounds off the elite as one of the most gnarly and experienced mountain runners around. Earwaker’s strength and agility should never be underestimated and has competed in Pomona five times.
Adding to the top four is an incredible line up of youth, legend and intrepid Kiwi competitors.
None other than the all-time great Barry Prosser and Kawerau record holder (45.54) will be returning to Pomona (13 x Kawerau and 6 x Pomona King), Barry will definitely be one to watch as he makes history once again.
Meagan Edhouse (10 x Kawerau and 5 x Pomona Queen) and Kawerau record holder (54.09) will be returning after last competing in 2011 on Aussie soil.
Andrew Town from Wanaka will add intense competition as he aims to take out the Master’s division in his eighth outing to Pomona.
The up and coming juniors from NZ boast an impressive array of Kawerau Prince & Princess titles between them. Regan Wilson (2014 Prince) and Evelyn Barton (2011, 2014 Princess) both travel, with Barton making history as the first time defending Kawerau Princess competing in Pomona.
Kaya Corporaal (2012, 2013 Prince) returns to Pomona after an impressive (33.30) debut in Pomona last year, whilst Joel Wilson (2011 Prince) joins an astonishing depth of junior talent from New Zealand.
Special note should be made for Dennis Jackson (Dejay - previous Kawerau Race Director) who has no fewer than 24 Kawerau and 16 Pomona races under his belt and enters Pomona as the most seasoned Trans-Tasman Mountain racer around.
Dejay is one of the integral factors in maintaining the 30 year relationship between Pomona & Kawerau, his son Glenn Jackson will also be flying the NZ colours in Pomona, as he tackles Pomona a second time.
Rounding off the Kiwi ranks, totalling no fewer than 15 competitors are Lee Barton who last competed in Pomona in 2011 and debutant Roz Wilson (2013 Kawerau 1st Vet Woman).
With a Kiwi team showcasing such a massive sum of accolades between them, there must be no doubt that the Pomona King of the Mountain race on Sunday 26th July (3pm) will be one to look out for when the results come through.
It will certainly set the tone for the return race on 31st October in New Zealand for the 60th Anniversary Kawerau King of the Mountain.
Entries for the Kawerau Diamond Jubilee have continued to steadily come in with over 100 eager mountain goats already signed up, as the largest field ever is expected to take to Putauaki later in the year.
More athletes information here www.kaweraukingofthemountain.co.nz/news