Topic: King of the Mountain Race

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Being such a dominant feature of the landscape Putauaki (Mount Edgecumbe) was simply asking to be climbed, and often there was a wager as to who would be first up and down the 852m peak. Thus the ‘Mountain Race’ began.

The first official race started with a bang at 10.30am on Saturday 29 January 1955 with the starting point being outside the Kawerau store Messrs Bryce & Stace. The store, located where the KEA Industrial Area is today, also generously supplied the £50 prize money which was quite a large sum in those days!  

26 competitors, including a Swiss mountaineer, set off through the scrub and up the mountain. Conditions included: competitors were to receive no help apart from hand refreshments; you entered at your own risk; there was a compulsory stretch to be run at the start and of course, runners could make their way to the peak by whichever route they could.

The winning title in that first race was awarded to Mr Jim Chadwick who came back with a time of 1 hour 10 minutes and 40 seconds. Mr Chadwick went on to win the race eight times over the subsequent years.

From this beginning the race has more or less continued every year gaining popularity along the way. For many years the local Fire Brigade co-ordinated the run with Peter Pritchard and Constable Firmin overseeing the race.

The starting point has changed a number of times – in 1956 and 57 the race was run from Savages’ Corner before moving to the Fire Station, Firmin Field, Prideaux Park before returning to Firmin Field. The race is now an 8km challenge up a formed track.  Other categories like Prince and Princess of the Mountain and the 1XX School Relay have been added to the race which donates all proceeds to charity.

Notable challengers over the years include Jim Chadwick, Barry Prosser, Mate Match, Aaron Strong, Alan McGregor, Kel Rimmer, Taipo Kajavala, Ted Koia and Sjors Corporaal. Multiple winners of the Queen of the Mountain include Rosalie Hyland, Maureen Lawson, Meagan Edhouse and Helen Rountree.

2013 saw the 58th Kawerau King of the Mountain Challenge taking place on Saturday 2 November.  The King of the Mountain title went to Sjors Corporaal with a time of 47 minutes, 55 minutes. Helen Rountree maintained her status as Queen of the Mountain with a Sub 60 time of 59 minutes, 14 seconds.  Sjor’s son Kaya Henderson-Corporaal was Prince of the Mountain 19 minutes, 46 seconds and Jayda Stewart took the Princess title with a 22 minutes, 40 seconds run.

Current record holders of the event are Barry Prosser with a 45min, 54 sec run from 1988 and Meagan Edhouse taking 54min, 9sec in 1995.

References and related links:

Moore, Kenneth W., "Kawerau: Its History and Background". 1990, pg169

Kawerau Harrier Club

Kawerau King of the Mountain Facebook page

Kawerau District Council - King of the Mountain

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