The 33-year-old dai' />

Sjors Corporaal can't wait to reach the finish line of the Great Cranleigh Kauri Run today so he can get back to pig hunting.

The 33-year-old dairy farmer from Murupara, the defending champion of both the Great Kauri Run and the New Zealand Triple Crown, has a freakish ability forged by his passion.

"Shit yeah ... I can't wait to get this one done and then I'll head into the hills for a few days of hunting," said the course record holder for the men's 32km course (2h 25m 35s).

"The pig hunting has given me huge technical ability over this terrain. But it has taken a back seat recently because I need to get more miles in for these longer events, so I am really missing it."

Corporaal returns to defend his title against the Kepler Challenge winner Vajin Armstrong and Kenyan runner Stanley Sang, plus a number of good-quality Kiwi runners.

"It looks like a tough field so I am up for the challenge."

"Last year I didn't know I'd be capable of breaking Ben Ruthe's record because I hadn't run that distance before but it was a great feeling."

He is favoured to defend his Triple Crown title and to say that he and the women's favourite, Ruby Muir, are like chalk and cheese is an understatement.

Muir, a 19-year-old from Whitianga who has moved to Auckland to study medicine, is an up-and-comer who has even surprised herself with her form in 2010.

She won the last 13km Kauri Run and won the prestigious Goat two years in a row (she placed 11th overall in 2010) and is growing in her belief.

"I was surprised at first, but I am not anymore," said Muir whose main rival today is 2009 Kauri champion Annika Smail.

"I have never done the longer run [32km] and it's really close to my home so I am excited to run it - it is so beautiful along the coast.

"I want to keep building to a new challenge this year to see how far I can go."

Muir's performance at the Goat where she broke the women's record caught the attention of Kauri event organiser Andy Reid.

"She is a lovely kid with a bright future. We couldn't believe her run at The Goat - she won it when she was only 19 and finished 11th overall. That is fantastic."

The Great Cranleigh Kauri Run, now in its seventh year, is an appropriate finish line to decide the NZ Triple Crown series.

It begins on the wild and rugged Waikawua Beach on the eastern coastline of the remote Northern Coromandel Peninsula and is the final of a three challenging trail runs, including the Tois Challenge in Whakatane and the Goat which is set in National Park.

"It's the only event in New Zealand where a Kauri tree is planted along the trail for every participant that takes part," said Reid.

"It's our way of giving back to the land and people from the area."

The vision is that one day there will be a 32km avenue of kauri from Waikawau to Coromandel for future generations to enjoy.

To date, 1600 kauri have been planted a distance of 4km along the Waikanae stream beyond the DoC campsite in Waikawau.

There are two distances (13km and 32km) and up to 400 runners and walkers are expected today - about half competing in each distance.

"The community has really supported this Kauri run," said Reid

"It is all about creating a legacy."

Roll of honour
Past winners of the Great Kauri Cranleigh Run (32km):

Men

2009 - Sjors Corporaal (Course record - 2:25:35)

2008 - Ben Ruthe

2007 - Ben Ruthe

2006 - Mark McKeown

2005 - Thomas Owens (UK)

2004 - Colin Earwaker

Women

2009 - Annika Smail

2008 - Hanny Allston (Australia) (Course record - 2:42:11)

2007 - Oksana Isanina

2006 - Oksana Isanina

2005 - Carline Thomas

2004 - Carline Thomas