Kanuka Killer Race Report

A capacity field of 100 runners took on the inaugural Kanuka Killer Trail Run held in Bendigo on Saturday.

Sarah Douglas

The event was a huge success and raised more then $500 for the Dog Rescue (DRD).

In the men’s race there was a real battle up front with the two race favourites Jonah Smith and Tom Spencer pushing each other hard all the way.

Jonah Smith winning

The lead changed several times, Jonah had the edge on the uphill sections and Tom fought back hard on the technical rocky sections, especially on the descents.

Jonah said, “I had to dig it in extremely hard on the ascents as I knew Tom had the superior speed on the rough downhill section’s of the course and would close the gap on me again”

Eventually Jonah took the dominant lead and pressed on to take the win with a 3 minute buffer in a time of 1:03:15.

Tom finished in 2nd place with a time of 1:06:39 and Ruben Connelly was 3rd in 1:11:15.

Tom Spencer 2nd place in the men’s, finishing strong

In the Veteran Men’s race Tristan Millen of Queenstown had an outstanding race to take the win and 4th place overall in a time of 1:11:44 ahead of local farm manager Andrew Bendall who was 2nd in a time of 1:17:51 with the ageing old man Andy Town taking 3rd spot in a time of 1:18:09.

Tristan Millen wins the Veterans

The womens race was equally exciting and as expected the race came down to an epic battle between two of NZ’s best mountain running exponents, Sabrina Grogan (2017 & current NZ Mountain Running Champ) and Sarah Douglas (2016 NZ Mountain Running Champ) versus top Brit fell runner Becky Sheffield.

All three ladies took off at a torrid pace from the gun and were locked into a real battle to establish dominance.

It was the tall lean figure of Becky who dug in hard and established an early advantage , her speed over the initial flat section was very impressive.

Sabrina maintained close contact with Sarah also in the chase just seconds behind.

Towards the closing stages of the race it was the inform NZ Mountain Running Champ Sabrina who with only 2 km to go edged in front of a rapidly tiring Becky.

Sabrina Grogan winning form

Sabrina had said before the race, ” I have had a break from running and training since the Mountain Champs in Cardrona so I’m not sure what to expect, I’ll being giving it 110% though! ”

Once in front Sabrina pinned her ears back to take line honours in an incredible time of 1:11:50 and 5th place overall.

Becky who had a sensational run was less than a minute behind and finishing 2nd place in a time of 1:12:20. Becky said after the race, “I was urging the legs to move faster but they weren’t responding despite the effort”

Becky Sheffield congratulates Sabrina a fantastic battle!

Finishing close behind in 3rd place and having a great run was Sarah Douglas. Sarah was just a minute further back and stopped the clock in a super fast 1:13:34.

With three such talented and dynamic runners racing so strongly the NZ womens mountain running is in great shape moving forward.

The Veteran womens race was won by Bex Innes Jones in a smart time of 1:40:53 and she was followed in by local Tarras lady Cindy Hurley 1:44:22 in 2nd position with 3rd place going to Christine McLachlan in a time of 1:53:49.

Christine McLachlan 3rd placed Veteran Women

Thanks to each and everyone who ran or supported and sponsored the race, this run may well become an annual event.

Andy (Traq)

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Preview – Krazy Kanuka Killer

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Trail Runners testing the 2018 Kanuka Killer Course near Cromwell


More than 100 trail/mountain runners are set to line up this Saturday April 7 for the inaugural Krazy Kanuka Killer ‘off road’ trail run.

This spectacular 12km trail run is set amongst the old historic gold mining area of Bendigo in the Cromwell region.

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Pictured: Matty Town trying out the course


The event has attracted a diverse range of runners, from the novice’s, who are seeking a new and exciting challenge, through to some of the best mountain running exponents of the sport, both in NZ and overseas.

Event Director Andy Town said, ‘entries have come in from all over NZ as well as Australia, Singapore , Belgium and the USA thus adding a real international flavour to the event, many of these runners will be simply ‘blown away’ by the stunningly scenic course, add to this fact that sections of the course are exceptionally technical and will challenge each and every entrant’ said Town.


The mens race will see three young guns Tom Spencer of New Plymouth and Jonah Smith & Andrew Wilson both from Dunedin battle it out for the winners cup and cash prize.

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Pictured :Tom Spencer a convincing winner at the Powder Ridge Punisher , Dunedin

Tom who is a medical student at Otago University is a ‘class act’ and is favoured to win the Kanuka Killer on Saturday, he was the clear winner at the inaugural Powder Ridge Punisher in Dunedin and recently competed as part of the Greenhorns Team at Godzone , his team went on to win the Colts Division and were placed in the top 10 overall in the race!


Jonah a former Dunedin Marathon winner and an accomplished Trail Runner who is one of only a few to go sub 2 hours at the Luxmore Grunt has the legs and the experience to win the Kanuka Killer too.

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Jonah Smith on his way to victory at the 2017 Luxmore Grunt

Andrew Wilson pictured is capable of a win at Kanuka

Town said, ‘ I wouldn’t be bold enough to predict the winner out of these three young men however in the end I suspect it will come down to who can best manage the technical rocky sections of the trail’.

There will also be two very experienced Veteran runners starting on Saturday, Tristan Millen and Simon Green who are both from Queenstown are new to the veteran ranks but don’t be fooled by their relative age compared to the young guys, either of these gentlemen are very capable of challenging for the top spot on the day.


The womens field for the inaugural Kanuka Killer has attracted an exciting line up too!

Tauranga’s Sabrina Grogan who is the 2017/2018 NZ Mountain Running champ is the imminent favourite, not only to win the womens division, but also to beat most of the men in the process!

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Sabrina Grogan on her way to winning the 2018 NZ Mountain Running Champs

Sabrina represented NZ at the World Mountain Running Champs in Italy last year and finished in 33rd place, an outstanding result especially given this was her first time on the world stage.


Queenstown’s Sarah Douglas who won the 2016 NZ Mountain Running Champs has been plagued with a foot injury for over two years now, however hopefully her 3rd place in the recent 2018 NZ Mountain Champs is an indication that she’s on the up again and let’s hope she has the dream run she is waiting for on Saturday.

Sarah has been coached this year by NZ’s greatest ever Mountain Runner, Johnathon Wyatt , who has won the World Mountain Running Champs no less than 6 times!

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2016 NZ Mountain Running Champion Sarah Douglas of Queenstown


Keep an eye out too on Saturday for the in form English runner Becky Sheffield.

Becky a former English fell runner works as Chef Patisserie at Amisfield Winery Restaurant in Lake Hayes and she has had a series of top performances recently including a 3rd placing at the gruelling Shotover Moonlight Marathon in Queenstown a few weeks ago.

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Becky Sheffield finishing the Shotover Moonlight Marathon


Expect the dynamic and likeable Australian runner Leslie Saunders to be dominant up front in the womens field.

Leslie who is still recovering from a serious ankle injury suffered at the Kawerau King of the Mountain is travelling over from Noosa on Tuesday especially to run this race and is very excited about this course which should suit her.

She has numerous titles in both Australia and NZ and is well known in both countries for her performances over the years in the Pomona King of the Mountain race in Queensland and the sister race the Kawerau King of the Mountain in the north island of NZ.

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Leslie Saunders in winning form at Pomona King of the Mountain , Queensland

Limited entries are available on the day, contact Andy On 022 615 4245 to register.

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