Ninety Mile Beach was certainly busy on Saturday with the world-famous west coast beach the venue for both a dramatic final day in the Snapper Bonanza as well as the Te Houtaewa Challenge long-distance running event.
While Bonanza anglers were trying their darndest to beat Dave Rameka's day one winner [eventually in vain as the report in Tuesday's Age confirmed], a field of around 100 long-distance running enthusiasts were pitting themselves against the bland 90 Mile environment over various distances from as far north as the bluff in the annual challenge.
Te Houtaewa founder and organiser Peter Kitchen said the day went ahead without any major hitches and he was pleased to see the event still attracting people from all over the world, New Zealand and closer to home.
"The day was full of smiling faces, aroha and great energy. It was truly humbling to see the effort and dedication from all our runners, walkers, and especially our rangatahi," said Kitchen.
Tim Teege from Hamburg, Germany completed the 62km ultra marathon in just under six hours (5:58:17.37) to win the main event on Saturday. The first female home over that distance was Phoebe Williams from Waiopehu College in Levin in just over six hours (6:01:37.62), finishing second overall.
Kaitaia College teacher Matt Collins was the best of the local entries, celebrating completing his first marathon by covering the 42km in 4 hours 40 minutes; with Glen Eden's Jackie Aitken first woman home, third overall, in 5:30.
In the half marathon, the first man and woman home were Donald Waters from Pataua South in 1:33 and Renata Blanchfield of Kerikeri in 1:54 respectively.
Waters, who hails from Edinburgh in Scotland but currently lives and works in Whangarei, said it was his quickest ever half marathon time and he was very impressed with the environment as well as the organisation of the event.
"Most beautiful run I have ever done," he said, smiling widely at the finish line and noting the tail wind which strengthened during the morning had been much appreciated. Organisers were also impressed Waters had emailed them and asked that his prize winnings go instead to the neon-pink clad group of Kaitaia cycling teenagers, the Far North Flash Marshmallows.
The overall field had 20 taking on the ultra marathon, 14 doing the marathon, 58 tackling the half marathon, with two adult and four rangatahi teams in the relay, in which teams of five runners each take turns to cover approximately 12km each along the ultra-marathon course.
As well, the 6km SPCA Walk for Life/ Bark on the Beach event traditionally run in conjunction with the Te Houtaewa attracted a field of 80 humans and an estimated 20 dogs.
Organiser Vanessa Sucich-Coupland said the event once again represented a fabulous part of the day's proceedings. She said that while it was great to see some coming from as far away as Auckland, it would have been nice to have more register.
"It was brilliant. People said they will come back next year. It was a really nice atmosphere and people had a really nice time."
¦ Finishing times: Ultra marathon, men: Tim Teege (Hamburg) 5:58:17.37, 1, Zane Adams (Auckland) 6:13:40.81, 2, Graham Bland (Glenfield) 6:36:01.83, 3; women: Phoebe Williams (Waiopehu College) 6:01:37.62, 1, Amy Howse 6:48:22.61, 2, Judy Humphris (Auckland) 7:36:48.87, 3.
Marathon, men: Matthew Collins (Kaitaia) 4:40:01.67, 1, Juha Kähkönen (Finland) 5:09:32.09, 2, Jc Santa Teresa (Rockland County) 5:31:03.56, 3; women: Jackie Aitken (Glen Eden) 5:30:55.85, 1, Sonya Row (Kaikohe) 5:56:53.72, 2, Charlotte Anne Nasey (Forest Hill) 6:50:31.68, 3.
Half marathon, men: Donald Waters (Pataua South) 1:33:38.93, 1, Robert Lee (Kaitaia) 1:39:37.89, 2, Stuart MacAdam (Auckland) 1:40:29.02, 2; women: Renata Blanchfield (Kerikeri) 1:54:30.14, 1, Jessica Quinlan 1:54:59.31, 2, Victoria Barns (Whangarei) 1:57:29.47, 3.