With three weeks until race day, entries are still flowing in for Coromandel’s prestigious Cranleigh K2, with defending champions Nick Lovegrove and Hannah van Kampen the latest to confirm for what is renowned as New Zealand’s toughest road cycling event.
In mountain climbing circles, K2 is renowned as the world’s toughest peak. But in New Zealand “K2” is a gruelling 200km road cycling event around the mountainous Coromandel Peninsula. The 200k distance combines with 2300m of climbing and superb surroundings to produce a European-style cycling challenge that is a favourite amongst elite and recreational riders alike.
That’s certainly the case for eight hardy souls. Rob McLeod (Orewa), John Cottingham (Morrinsville), Darren Donnelly (Thames), Dennis Magness (Milford), Alastair Borwick (Akld), Crunchie Donaldson (Taupo), John Badger and David Blanchett (Ham) have finished all 12 K2’s thus far and are all back again for this year’s 13th event.
Scheduled for November 1st, organisers are expecting more than 1500 participants. The attraction is the European-style route, but also a unique format that sees the event start from a different Coromandel town every year.
This year racing gets underway in Coromandel Town. The course opens with two short, sharp climbs before a sedate 40k along the Pohutukawa Coast to Thames where everyone takes stock for K2’s signature hill climb, the 14k long, 425m high Kopu-Hikuai Hill. The reward is stunning views and 40k of mostly downhill to Tairua and Whitianga for a tough finale over Pumpkin Hill, Kuaotunu and Whangaparoa to finish back in Coromandel Township.
Past winners have included Kiwi internationals Glenn Mitchell, Fraser McMaster and Jeremy Yates, who holds the current course record of 5hrs 02min 34secs set in 2008.
Yates won K2 on five occasions, including 2010, the last time the race was based in Coromandel Town. But this year sees a rematch between Auckland’s Nick Lovegrove and Tauranga’s Dan Molyneux, who staged K2’s closest ever finish last year when Lovegrove outsprinted Molyneux in the final few hundred metres.
Among women, Hastings Hannah van Kampen will also be looking to repeat in the elite women’s race, which is raced over 100k in the associated Halycon K1.
As well as the feature Cranleigh K2, the Halycon K1, the Focus K150 and Nicholas Browne 50k offer options for all age and ability. The K1 runs from Tairua to Coromandel, the K150 from Thames to Coromandel and the Nicholas Browne Challenge from Whitianga to Coromandel.
For the extreme endurance junky, however, 2014 sees the return of the Coromandel K4. Like the Olympic Games, every four years a two-lap, 400k option provides New Zealand’s cycling ultimate challenge. So far this year more than 30 riders put their hand up for K4.
Entries for all events are still open, although entries after October 16 will incur a late entry fee.
Organised by Adventure Racing Coromandel, the K2 is an event with something for everyone. Their other events include the Moehau Multisport Race, The Great Kauri Run, and the ARC Adventure Race. Their events benefit the Spirit of Coromandel Trust, which provides opportunities for young people to experience the outdoors.