Speed and gravity proved no problem for physics student, Ben Duffus, who clearly has both mastered having made it two wins out of two starts to claim the 2014 King of the Mountain crown.
Over 10,000 people flocked to Pomona, Queensland, on Sunday 27 July for the annual Wimmers King of the Mountain Festival, a project of the Cooroy/Pomona Lions Club. Visitors jostled for places to watch the start and finish of the main event of the day, the Bendigo Bank International Mountain Challenge which has competitors climb an almost vertical route and fly fearlessly back down the mountain side.
Ben Duffus, 2013 winner, raced over the line an impressive 2 minutes and 29 seconds, ahead of New Zealander, Lance Downie (26:16). Ben’s time of 23:47, though still short of the record of 22:43, was a 35 second improvement on his 2013 run. In accepting first place trophy, Ben, a 22 year old student from Indooroopilly who competes overseas as well as in Australia, said that Pomona’s King of the Mountain is his favourite race, “It’s tough, but it’s just the best fun and I love being here.” Later this month Ben will represent Australia in a 21km race in the US & a 12km run in Italy.
Aaron Knight, third overall and first Veteran in a time of 26:26 also had words of praise for race organisers, the Cooroy/Pomona Lions Club. “It’s the best run, best organised race I know, with an amazing atmosphere. Every entrant from first to last is cheered across the line. That doesn’t happen anywhere else!”
Making it her fourth win, veteran runner Kim Beckinsale, PE teacher from Noosa, was first woman to finish in a time of 31:11. Kim, a late entrant, wasn’t even sure she was going to make it to the race on Sunday morning. Race coordinator, Barry Stewart, said of Kim, “She’s just a machine – bloody brilliant!”
Kim’s passion is to be a positive role model for women and children saying, “Whether you win or not it’s the challenge that’s important.”
Fellow veteran, Leslie Saunders was second with a time of 31:37, followed by first-time runner, Shona Stephenson in 33:37. Leslie Saunders was also the recipient of this year’s Bruce Samuels Trophy for dedication and persistence.
Other trophies were awarded as follows: Ann Daly Trophy for the most gallant effort – Allan Davies; Stan Topper Trophy for sportsmanship – Danuza & Dan Rogers (husband/wife); Col Jackson Trophy for the oldest Runner – Dennis Jackson.
Festival chairperson, Heather Manders, said that the Cooroy/Pomona Lions Club, organisers of the festival for thirty six years, were delighted with the day. “It was just great to see all our hard work come together. The Lions club puts its heart and soul into this event. We’re all volunteers and everyone puts in an incredible effort.”
Next year’s race marks the 30th anniversary of Trans – Tasman competition. A long tradition of friendly rivalry began when New Zealander, Rosalie Hyland won the women’s category in 1985. Although Kiwi, Helen Roundtree, won last year, it’s nine years since a New Zealand male took out the title.
“This will be an exciting, humdinger of a race,” said Barry Stewart, “There’s a lot at stake. The Kiwis want to win badly and we want to stop them!”
He says next year’s race will definitely be one not to miss.
A full list of Division Winners is available at www.kingofthemountain.com.au