There’s something strangely addictive about the annual Raglan Karioi Trail event.
The 24km leg has earned a reputation as one of the toughest endurance runs around, yet still attracts elite athletes and those wanting to push their personal boundaries, while the alternative less intense tracks cater for children and first timers keen to enjoy the spectacular views and the experience of walking and running on Mt Karioi.
The inclusion of the 10km walk or run and a 2km event for children makes this is a true family event, offering all ages and fitness levels the chance to get involved.
The Mt Karioi track is a true mountain run, taking participants through everything from thick bush and mud, to rocks and steep hills.
Event creator and organiser Francois Mazet says he chose to make it a real “mountain run” instead of just a trail run.
“You have to run to the summit twice if you do the 24km event, so it’s pretty tough. Some parts are particularly challenging but this is what I like: mountain running. I would describe it as very technical and challenging.
“But then on the other side it’s a stunning setting and we have trail options to suit complete beginners also.”
A keen skier, snowboarder and trail runner, the Raglan Karioi Trail combines Francois’ passion for the Kiwi outdoors with his knowledge in sports events and Masters in sports management.
“Karioi is a mountain that I love running and that’s why I wanted to share this experience. It’s not about the time it takes, but about the experience.
“I want the Raglan Karioi Trail to be recognised not only as an iconic mountain running event in New Zealand, but also as a unique Raglan community event, as this is part of what makes it so special.”
This year’s event is being held on December 9 and offers a number of options for competitors: 24km solo (8am start), 24km team (8am start), 10km run or walk (10am start), 2km kids event (1:30pm start).
“We’re lucky to have an awesome team of sponsors on board too, so after the event there’s a free barbecue and Mama’s Brew Shop and its amazing kombucha are involved, along with Pilot’s Brewery.
“There’s a reason competitors come back each year – and it’s just as much about the social side of things as the challenge of one of the few authentic mountain runs around.
This year sees the return of five competitors who have run the Raglan Karioi Trail for the last four years – never missing an event – since it first began.
Among them is Chris Morrissey, a 42-year-old from Tauranga who is a three time winner – and returns this year with high hopes of taking his fourth title, against stiff competition which includes 33-year-old Kovo Kowalewski McDonald from Taupiri.
Kovo first entered after being encouraged by her coach as a ‘great local event to try out – a bit of a challenge on a new course’.
“Every year I cross the finish line and tell Francois I am never coming back! But every year I do – it’s hard work on a challenging course but what brings me back is Francois and his team. The volunteers are great. The event is growing every year and the finish line is amazing with food, coffee, beer and awesome prizes. It’s a true family vibe and a great day out.”
A highlight for Kovo is the open-air bath at the end of the run.
“That bath to soak in at the end is true Kiwi country style. And the views, if you have time to check them out… make it all worth the hard work.”
Dave Upshall from Te Mata thrives on the personal challenge the course provides and rates the incredible setting and the bonus of a beer waiting at the finish line.
Team members Paul Cadogan and Wayne Alan enter as a team (Hockey Dads) for the opportunity to try and beat their previous times.
“It’s in our backyard and what a backyard it is, the elevation is a great challenge. We enter many events, mainly trail running, so love Raglan as a good training run.”