A strong field of 207 athletes participated in the fourth annual Craigs Northern Crossing which took place on Saturday (5 April) between Omapere and Kerikeri in the Far North. The event comprised a triathlon, a duathlon and, for the second year, a shorter course for people looking for a middle-distance event. It raised approximately $8,000 for community projects across Northland.
Category winners came from right across Northland, from Whangarei in the south to Kaitaia in the north and from Dargaville across to Kerikeri.
A greatly reduced starting field of athletes for the coast-to-coast Northern Crossing was offset by many more athletes opting to participate in the Missionary Trail middle-distance course. 128 athletes from the total field of 207 took part in this course option.
Graeme Ewenson from Dargaville won the Northern Crossing male individual multisport category for the second consecutive year with a time of five hours, three minutes and 44 seconds for the 109km route.
Chris Walls of Okaihau won the male duathlon in three hours, 29 minutes and three seconds, with Hinerangi Waikai of Kaitaia taking the female duathlon line honours in five hours, 37 minutes and 27 seconds.
Dave Green, Dale Simkin and John Sanderson of Kerikeri came first in the team multisport category for the second consecutive year with a new course record of four hours, 57 minutes and 12 seconds. Peter Foote and Teri Robinson of Kerikeri triumphed in the team duathlon with a finishing time of three hours, 56 minutes and 19 seconds.
The Missionary Trail 51 kilometre bike and run multisport event started at Okaihau with a 13 kilometre mountain bike leg along the Pou Herenga Tai cycleway, joining the main Northern Crossing route at Kaikohe.
As with the longer coast-to-coast course, athletes could opt out of the kayaking leg to turn the Missionary Trail into a duathlon.
Geoff Dunn from Kerikeri won the male individual multisport Missionary Trail category, also for the second consecutive year, in two hours, 47 minutes and 13 seconds. The female individual multisport category was won by Estelle Plowright of Whangarei with a new course record of three hours, 9 minutes and 17 seconds.
Jeff Couchman of Okaihau won the male Missionary Trail duathlon in two hours, 13 minutes and 37 seconds, with Catherine Semenoff-Murray of Kaitaia taking the female duathlon line honours in two hours, 14 minutes and 32 seconds.
Chris Fewtrell, Tim Hunter, Tess Tayler and Tony Del Beth – Hudson of Kerikeri came first in the Missionary Trail team multisport category in two hours, 34 minutes and 42 seconds, while Ed Firth and Mark Forsythe of Whangarei won the Missionary Trail team duathlon with a finishing time of three hours, 56 minutes and 19 seconds.
The Missionary Trail junior team multisport award went to Jayden Gibson, Finn Fraser and Tassilo Eisenmann of Kerikeri High School. The junior team duathlon was won by Adam Lee, Hamish Palmer and Grace Morrison, also of Kerikeri High School.
Event organiser Owen Smith of the Rotary Club of Kerikeri said the addition of the Missionary Trail had broadened the scope of the event and made it more attractive to locals.
“We have a core group of top-flight athletes who relish the challenge of the coast-to-coast Northern Crossing, but we wanted to make the challenge of the event a little more do-able for the average Northlander and, with the Missionary Trail, I think we’ve achieved this,” he said.
This year, for the first time, an eight-kilometre ‘fun run/walk was added to the event. In keeping with the heritage theme of the day this event is called The Settlers’ Run/Walk and follows the eight kilometre Kerikeri River trail from Waipapa to the Stone Store basin at Kerikeri, past Rainbow Falls. The male winner of this event was Hamish Fleetwood of Kerikeri in 38 minutes and 55 seconds and the female winner was Alison Weinstock of Whangarei in 48 minutes and 15 seconds.
From Kupe’s first landing place almost 800 years ago at the mouth of the Hokianga Harbour, the Northern Crossing route follows ancestral pathways across the island to Kerikeri, site of this country’s first permanent trading post built by English missionaries almost 200 years ago.
The challenge for competitors began on Saturday out on the South Head of the Hokianga Harbour entrance, with its spectacular views. The first leg comprised an eight kilometre run. Then an 80 kilometre cycle route across Northland brought the athletes to Waipapa, where they dumped their bikes and ran down the scenic Kerikeri river track to the Stone Store basin, past Rainbow Falls.
The duathletes crossed the finish line in Kerikeri’s Basin Reserve while the multisporters started on the kayak leg along Kerikeri Inlet.
The Northern Crossing is the fund-raising brainchild of the Rotary Club of Kerikeri and supported by Craigs Investment Partners and other sponsors. Proceeds support community projects across Northland.