A Scotsman visiting Mount Maunganui has taken the title of King of the Mountain in the annual race up Mauao today.
Murray Strain bet out local competitors including five time winner Iain Macdonald, who was hoping to grab his sixth title, in the 4.5km race from Mount Maunganui Main Beach to the summit of Mauao and back.
Murray Strain from Edinburgh finished the race first in 19 minutes 9 seconds.
He finished with a time of 19.09minutes, followed by Daniel James from Whakatane with a time of 19.57minutes, with Ben Ruth coming in third with a time of 20.14minutes.
The Scotsman is in New Zealand competing in the Orienteering World Cup around the North Island.
“We were just looking at different races on and this event stood out.”
The Edinburgh local says the mountain in the middle of the Scottish capital is the same height as Mauao – making the run a bit easier.
“It’s a much better track here. I was glad it wasn’t a sprint finish though.”
Previous champion Iain ended up in fourth place after overtaking his brother Kyle also competing in the race on the return journey just before the Mount Surf Club.
“I was sitting in fourth on the way up and got to about sixth at the top.
“Then I was in fourth on the way down, caught up to Kyle and passed him at the surf club.”
Iain says there is plenty of rivalry between him and Kyle, his brother, who train together.
They train seven days a week with the Mount being their hill session.
“We do a couple of times around and a few times up and could feel us getting faster in the weeks leading up to the event. You have to do the hill work – I am reasonably happy with it.”
Iain has finished every year in the top three placings.
Female runner Helen Rountree won the title of Queen of the Mountain.
Organiser Malcolm Turner was sceptical on the number of entries piror to the race start at 2pm with number of online entries down from 51 last year to 24 this year.
“I think Cyclone Evan is scaring people off, and the strange weather is having a big influence on it.
“But a few more are turning up with the sun coming out.”
This year a total of 150 people entered the main race, while the junior race numbers for competitors under 15-years-old were “not bad” and the fun run was still a “bit light”.
The record number of entries in the main race is 161 in 2010, but Malcolm says the weather has definitely been a deterrent this year.
The run, which began in 1945, starts on Mount Maunganui Main Beach and winds up the southern track of the mountain to the summit before runners make their way down the northern side and return to Main Beach.
“It’s only twice it hasn’t been held – once for a polio epidemic, and once when Mount Athletics Club pulled the pin.”
The full run is about 4.5km and includes the climb to the top of Mauao – 231 metres above the beach.
Around 150 runners competed in the race today.
Daniel Jones from Whakatane finished second.
Tauranga’s Ben Ruth finished third.
Nathan Walker, 15, from Papamoa won the junior race in 9 minutes, 21 seconds.
Mason Bryant, 16, finished second.
Anneke Grogan, 16, was the first female to finish in the junior race.
Henry Scott, 6, strides towards the finish line.