Rugged hills with steep climbs and killer descents, native bush, beaches with coastal tracks, stunning veiws and untouched wilderness. These are words that trail runners love to hear, coincidentally they are also the perfect words to use when describing the Coromandle Peninsula and the 22km Bush to Beach trail run is about as Coro as you can get.
The Kuaotunu Search and Rescue (KSAR) Trail run is a brand new event that hit the trail running scene this April, and with a whopping 600 entrants in its first year, no doubt it’s going to be a common entry on most peoples bucket lists.
The 22km(ish) run starts at Otama beach in the camp ground, which just so happens to be owned by race director Claire Elliot, an avid trail runner and important member in the local SAR. So it’s no suprise that race HQ is top notch and puts most other big trail runs to shame.
The run has a little over 700m of climbing in its fast paced loop, and most of it is crammed into the first 10 kilometres with runners climbing 350metres in the first 4km, and then aren’t allowed a single break from the hilly onslaught until the final two kilometres along the sandy beaches of Otama Bay.
Apart from the steep hills and stunning beaches that are common and expected in the coromandle, competitors are also treated to georgeous veiws (but only once you reach the top), native bush that will remind most of the T-rex scene out of Jurassic park.
The inaugural 22km Bush 2 beach trail run started at 10:30am on the 21st of April, an hour after the first walkers took their initial steps of a long day. After around 50metres of flat running on race director Claire’s driveway, we were running up the initial 350m climb to the bush, a lead group of three pretty quickly formed which was lead by oldschool legend Colin Earwaker (60), followed by myself with Andrew Howse only 20metres or so behind. Once at the top of the climb, and descending back down the other side through some creamy single track, both Earwaker and myself were passed by Howse who seems to be like the flash when running downhills. On the next climb Earwaker took the lead again, I followed and we knocked Howse back into third. This game of cat and mouse continued for the next 10 kilometres or so, as we all tried to lose each other. Somwhere around this time Earwaker made a pretty decent break on a long uphill inside the forestry and Howse and myself (now running side by side) watched in dispair and amazement as this guy nearly 3 times our age left us in the dust. Respect. I knew first place was Earwaker’s, and I think Howse did to, afterall the old guy could climb like a hare from a hound. So the game of leap frog continued between Howse and I, for the next 2-3km, Occasionaly when the terrain was right we could see Earwaker, less than a km in front but ever so slowly increasing his lead.
Around the 17km mark on the last uphill Howse and I were still within 20 metres of each other, but he had been pulling away from me on the downhills all day and I was struggling to catch back up on the other side (bearing in mind at this stage there had been less than 500metres of flat running the whole race. On the final downhill around 2.5km from the finish Howse finally dropped me, and all three of us ran the final 2km down the beach, all within eye shot of each other but well and truely in our final finishing positions. I distinctly remember the last 100m been particulary spew worthy as I feebly climbed the insy winsy sandy dune, however I managed to hold it together to run across the line in time to shake both Howse and Earwakers hands before we merrily drank many brews, drank soup and ate fried onions.
1st COLIN EARWAKER 1:38:47
2nd ANDREW HOWSE 1:41:34
3rd KRISTIAN DAY 1:42:12
1st OSKANA ISAVLIINA 1:53:43
2nd CLARE NADEN 2:01:43
3rd DIANA SIMPSON 2:02:33