While many people spend Boxing Day recovering from an over-indulgent Christmas Day or snapping up bargains in the shops, some will be looking to win the titles of King and Queen of the Mount.

The annual Mount Maunganui King and Queen of the Mount Race, which first started in 1945, is on Wednesday and there are two events to enter. The main event, in which runners head off from the beach opposite Mt Drury to the top of Mauao and back, starts at 11am. Before that, at 10.30am, the juniors will head off on their course, which takes them partway up the mountain.

Organiser Malcolm Taylor says, depending on the weather, they are expecting up to 150 runners to take part in the main competition and about 40 juniors. According to Metservice, Wednesday will have a few showers and southwesterly breezes, with a high of 27C.

Among those expected to compete is two-time New Zealand mountain running champion Sabrina Grogan, a favourite for the Queen of the Mount title. Last year the title was won in wet conditions by Mount Maunganui's Courtney Pratt.


Taylor did not believe Pratt would be competing this year and believed Grogan - a Tauranga woman who is Christchurch-based while studying medicine at University of Otago - would be hard to beat.

"She's very good at going uphill," Taylor says.

He said Grogan's downhill may need some work but "I would say she'll be hard to beat".

Last year, Te Puke's Bobby Dean took the King title for the first time having raced in five of the Boxing Day races. He had also spent three of those races behind Whakatāne's Daniel Jones, who was after his fourth consecutive title in 2017.

Taylor says that was a big win for Dean, especially considering how well-known the Jones family is in the running circuit.

The Mount Maunganui King and Queen of the Mount Race always attracts elite racers. Taylor describes it as more of a sprint race for athletes, and he's expecting the same level of talent to be on display on Wednesday as well.

Although there is no doubt those involved in the race are capable, having the event on Boxing Day can be hard, Taylor says.

It used to be held on the first Saturday after Christmas, but that often meant it clashed with other events such as the Tauranga Twilight Track and Field Meet, which "made it tough for those doing both".


Ideally, he'd like future events to be held on December 27 to allow people an extra day to travel and recover from Christmas Day.

Taylor says entries will remain open up until the start of the race for anyone wanting to sign up on the day.

The King and Queen of the Mount Race:
11am start from the beach opposite Mt Drury.
Entries accepted on the day.
Cost: $35.
The Junior Mountain Race:
For runners 15 and under as at December 26, starting at 10:30am.
Starting line on the beach opposite Mt Drury.
Cost: $15.