09 December 2016
New Zealand’s biggest surf lifesaving race has taken another giant leap forward, with next week’s fourth Mount Monster endurance event boasting a record field with a distinct international flavour.
The 25km, four-stage individual race, sponsored by Dexion, is on December 17, taking in the splendour of Mount Maunganui’s iconic coastline.
Top Australian ironmen James Lacy and Luke Cuff (Mermaid Beach) will be chasing individual glory, in a star-studded trans-Tasman battle against some of New Zealand’s best. Midway’s Cory Taylor, the 2013 champion who is competing against Lacy and Cuff on the Nutri-Grain Ironman series in Australia, is a late-entrant and will line up alongside defending champion Ben Cochrane (Omanu) and recently-crowned world paddle board champion Sam Shergold (Mount Maunganui), who was third last year.
The women’s field features the return of inaugural winner and ironwoman star Danielle McKenzie, who also has a gap in her schedule on the Summer of Surf series in Australia. She’ll try and dethrone two-time champion Kirsty Wannan, while a large field of under-19 females will be snapping at their heels.
The individual race, which also has French and Great British national team members in it, had attracted 93 entries earlier this week, with another 219 surf athletes taking part in the teams race.
Notable teams include the Sassy Tsunamis, with triple surf lifesaving world champion Laura Quilter roping in Olympic K4 kayaker Kayla Imrie and top ironwoman Natalie Peat, while previous Olympic kayakers Teneale Hatton (team) and Mike Walker (individual) will also compete.
The Monster starts and finishes on Mount Maunganui's Main Beach, with a 5km beach run, a spectacular swim leg which includes a jump off Moturiki Island's blowhole, a 12km ski leg to Omanu and a 6km board paddle.
Lacy is currently 10th in the Nutri-Grain standings in Australia after three rounds, having finished second in Fingal Bay last weekend, while Cuff is another 11 spots back.
Their Mermaid teammate Simon Murfet is 14th, though he and Hamish Chapman will line up in a team for the Mount Monster.
McKenzie missed the first round, competing in the world paddleboarding championships with Shergold, but has done enough in the next two rounds to lie 27th in the iron woman standings, fifth in the board standings and sixth in the ski.
The Monster also features a unique prizemoney split, with $1000 going to the first open male and open female and a "Monster Pot" - awarded to first overall in the male, female and teams - based on the number of entries in each division.
Racing starts on Saturday December 17 at 10am.