Blog Archive

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Better this time... Just!

Two islands in one race... sounds like fun.

The Total Sport race named The Dual takes in both Motutapu and Rangitoto Islands and is a tough test.

The last time I ran I really shouldn't have... that was in 2012 and was the week after I had completed the 60km Tarawera Ultra, what a bloody idiot idea that was. I had felt really good in the few days after the Ultra so, as I had a free entry as part of a Total Sport Summer Series Pass, I thought I might as well.

I remember feeling pretty good for the first kilometre an then dying a rapid death. It was a real struggle that day just to finish in 2:49 and 3rd to last in my age group!

So I was looking forward to - hopefully - putting a few things to right on this run!

The day starts out with a Ferry ride from downtown Auckland over to the island, which is very pleasant and a nice way to relax and get the head in the right place.

The race starts out on Motutapu Isalnd with a steady climb up a gravel hill road for exactly 100m vertical climb (2.3km running distance) before diving off over a bit of farmland and back down to sea level for the crossing to Rangitoto at 4km.

Then it is more gravel access roads for 4km of consistent climbing where we went from near-on sea level to 183m, then, just past the summit we dived off into single-trail. At the summit I came across my lovely friend Vera Alves who had pulled he plug in her run - not too surprising as she had run Tarawera the week before. The downhill trail though is not like any other trail you will run in NZ (that I know of), because you are on to volcanic scoria and it varies from smooth to extremely rugged and sole-bruisingly rough - that's the soles of your feet, although the soul gets a test as well.

I was finding it tough, but coping. It was this long scoria section from the top of Rangitoto to the crossing that killed me last time, so I was happy to cope a bit better this time... but it was still a real tough struggle. Once back to the sea you follow the trail around the edge of the island to the crossing. The views would be great except that it was really hurting!

Back onto Motutapu and a slightly different farm route this time, with more serious climbing and catching and passing a few friends running different distances. I knew I was in the last few km's and gave it my traditional last few km's burst passing several runners from my race as well.

The funniest part was the big descent to the finish, it is quite a steep switchback track with some treacherous footing at times... but loving downhills as I do and seeing a couple of runners from my race a gave it a burst and passed them both. Then down onto the last 200m stretch to the finish one of the ladies put on the sprint and started to pass me... the ol' grit was still there tho and up onto my toes I sprinted back past to lead her over the line and then I promptly tripped on one of the timing mats and finished on my face...she quickly pointed out that it was karma for beating her!

In the end though I finished in 2:22... 27 minutes faster than the previous effort and finished 7th in the Vets... happy with that!.

The ferry back was shared with Forsyth Thompson, Vera, Glenn Goldie and Carl Southgate... a very pleasant time where we shared lies about the race and tried not to look tired! Another one done and getting close now!

What a Blast... in more ways than one!

If you remember back to the start of this Blog, my first fundraising venture for Hospice was the 2012 Tarawera Ultra Marathon where I ran 60km and raised a little over $5000 for Hospice.

In 2014 the Vibram Tarawera Ultra-Marathon was part of the brand new Ultra Trail World Tour and with entry limits raise there was a real buzz around the whole event... a buzz that I was keen to be part of.

But there was no way that I was going to try and run 60km or more in the middle of the 52 in 52 challenge... however, there was a solution... the relay! The TUM allows for 2 or 4 person relays teams and so I set my sights on putting together a team. The 3rd leg of the relay from Okataina to the Tarawera Falls was one of my favourite bits of trail ever and - fortunately - came in at just over 22km... perfect to qualify under my 'half or longer' rule.

The team started with Marcus Daws my Osteopath Sponsor from Hamilton and a very tidy runner. The other two were Nathan Hodges and Scott Whitley, who were both married to one of my best friends daughters. Nathan was new to running and ran the Kiltathon with us and loved it. He was to run the first section to Okareka. Scott had been a top runner in his younger days and was getting back into it... however a couple of months out he had to withdraw from the run for health reasons.

His replacement was quickly found with Darren Crocker from Taupo. At almost the same time Scott pulled out, Darren asked me if I would like to run Western Okataina trail with him. This we did with his lovely wife Nadege picking us up from the other end. So that was the leg I asked him to run and he accepted.

Nathan early on (photo by Photos4Sale)
Then the rules changed, the imminent arrival of Cyclone Luisi meant the for the second year in a row the course was to be changed.

Lainy in Support at the Water Tanks
So on raceday we were there in all of the excitement in our special new shirts printed for us by the fantastic team at All Sew, in the pitch black of an early autumn morning in the Redwoods... looking for other team members by the light of our headlights and finally finding everyone.

Nathan was still first runner and his leg was an 11km loop up to Tokorangi Pa Rd, across to the tanks and down around the back. Then back over the hill to finish where he started. The change was that I would hop in at leg 2 and run to Okareka, as Nathan had only run 11km, I suggested that he continue with me to the Blue Lake which he gladly did.

Nathan & I nearing Nathan's finish (Photo by Photos4Sale)
We set a steady pace, Nathan was going pretty well considering he had pushed quite hard in his leg. He struggled a bit on the uphills, but on the straights he more than held his own. he dropped off on Windy Road, when he saw his lift home cheering at the side of the road and I upped the pace a bit.

Start of Tennent's Trail - thanks Glenn Larsen
Blue Lake Beach (photo by Photos4Sale)
I was happy with how it went, had a zoom around the Blue Lake and then onto 'Tennent's Trail' the trail I had adopted to look after in 2012 and I have looked after it for 3 TUM's now.

At the changeover I handed the transponder to Darren and he disappeared, while I then carried on up the road for nearly 2km and then back to make up the 21.1km needed for the challenge.

Darren on Eastern Okataina Walkway out & back
(Photo by Photos4Sale)
The weather was holding out pretty well at this stage, but by the time we had driven to Okataina it was starting to turn, the wind was rising and the rain was steady. It was still pretty cool to watch people as they arrived in various states of exhaustion, try to refuel and disappear again. We got 2 bites at seeing some of them, as they had to run a short out and back down part of Eastern Okataina Trail before handing over to the last runner.

Darren looked great coming into the Aid Station for the first visit, but the last few km of the out and back were tough. He handed over to Marcus and he was gone.

Marcus blitzing down the road towards the finish
(Photo by Photos4Sale)
I stayed on a bit at Okataina and cheered a few familiar faces on, I was lucky enough to be able to help Duncan Darroch refuel and lend him my wastebelt to fill and keep him going for the last section.

Done!! Marcus finishes (Photo by Phoros4Sale)
After that I left to head back to Okataina for the finish... not long after I left they stopped runners from going any further as the storm was getting worse and the danger level increasing.

I got to the finish in time to see the lovely Dawn Tuffery come home in 3rd place, a result she was ecstatic with. Marcus zoomed home and said he loved every minute... to have the team finish in 9th, a very creditable position.

I tried to stay around for a bit after that to watch more finish, but the rain was getting heavier and after running a half myself, they sensible thing to do was head home, get dry and make sure I stayed well enough for the next week.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Back Home...

Run number 47 brought me back home to Rotorua... to a race I had only run once before.

The Copthorne Hotel Rotorua Off Road Half Marathon starts from where so many of my training runs start, the Waipa carpark and starts in an odd way for an off road event... with 2km of sealed road!

I was very fortunate for this event to be sponsored by a long time friend Sean O'Donnell from Davidsons. They were one of the key sponsors and Sean was quick to offer me one of his free entries.

Right from the start this was another of those runs that was never going to break any records. Within a few hundred metres I was not feeling very comfortable and from then on it was just a matter of battling through as fast as I could.

After the 2km of road we turned right along the road beside Waiariki's Forestry Training Unit and into the trail for the first time. A bit of trail I am very familiar with lead us around to 8 Mile Gate Road and then a short run to Yellow Brick Road, a wonderful wee MTB trail that I have to admit to running many times... it is just so wonderful and gives me quick access to many parts of the forest.

Then onto forestry road past the trailer hoist and onto Nursery Road for a nice climb, then the race continues on Forestry Road all the way around to the finish... where... we carried on for a second lap exactly the same.

The first time I did this race the first and second laps were different at the end with the last 2km or so of lap 2 being once again on some lovely MTB trail... not this time and the race was the worse for it.

In the end I stumbled home in 1:52 which was about 7 minutes slower than the previous time, but it was enough on the day to finish and move on.

While I love Trail Running and most of my future running post 52 in 52 will be on trails... I did not find this an enjoyable run, way too much of it is on either road or forestry road.... and with all the hundreds of kilometres of trails in that very forest it is almost a crime!

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Just Across the Island!

From the coast at Coromandel we traveled right across to the other coast the next weekend for my first ever run in New Plymouth.

Ross Steele
Once again Lorraine and I were fortunate for the kind sponsorship of  The Copthorne Grand Central Hotel who put us up for 2 nights, the race was Saturday... but being such a long drive we headed over on Friday.

Which was a real bonus as it turned out that Americarna was on with about a million amazing US hot rods and classic cars all around town and on the Saturday morning they were all in the middle of the city filling the streets and it was fantastic.

Saturday registration was in New Plymouth although the race itself doesn't come to the city.

Come Sunday morning and Lainy dropped me off at the start line for the Half Marathon in Inglewood... I set the GPS to get to the finish in Waitara.. would hate her to have got lost.

As we were waiting for the start the Marathon runners started coming through... and of course Ross Steele was there again... the man is a machine!!! Also there was another legend, the lovely Patricia Stichbury getting closer and closer to her 100th Marathon in November.

Then we were off, the race has an overall downward grade, but you don't really notice it.

To be truthful there really isn't to much to report about the race. Lainy stopped a couple of times for me to catch up to take pictures. But really the race is just a run through the country. Eventually you get down to the State Highway and run along it for a short distance before crossing over and heading down into Waitara to the finish near the beach.
With Patricia Stichbury

One of the highlights of the day was catching up to Patricia just before the finish. While we have been at the same events a few times, she has usually been running the marathon and I have never seen her during a race before. 

The good part of my day was the time,  I made it 1:40:02 which would have been my second fastest ever half, however the official time was 1:40:52 which is my third fastest... whichever it was, It was happy with the time.

We loaded up the car and we were on out way... although only as far as Te Kuiti for a night with Lyndsey and Damien Anselmi, as Lainy was into Waikato Hospital for another week of tests the next day.

Charting New Territory...

The next of the many fabulous Total Sports Events was all the way up at the Northern tip of the Coromandel Peninsula at Colville.

Conrad Kuriger
We were fortunate again to be sponsored to stay at the wonderfully situated Top 10 Holiday park at Shelly Beach. We enjoyed our stay there so much that we have booked in for a week over Christmas!

Again, many great friends were there, Lyndsey and Damien Anselmi were there for the Marathon, as was marathon man Ross Steele. I was also fortunate enough to meet up with Janet Marsh, a friend from my late 20's living in Lower Hutt. She was up with her hubby, he was riding, she was running!

Janet Marsh
Conrad Kuriger from Tauranga was also there and we saw a bit of each other during the race.

This race was to be quite a different challenge to any other so far... we started out for the first 2km on sealed road, then up onto a dirt/gravel road that climbed steadily until after 5km we had climbed 200 metres vertical and there were already some wonderful views.

The dirt road got dirtier as we went up and was muddy as we headed down the other side... so muddy in fact that the MTB riders were having to pick up their bikes and carry them. About halfway down I went to pass another runner calling out "on your left" and as I did she promptly moved left sending me into the broom beside the trail... a bit of blood and a lot of mud and I was back on the go and we came out the bottom, firstly onto farmland trail and then onto dirt road.

Then lots of dirt road, but it was interesting and reasonably enjoyable. Just before we left the farmland Conrad and Janet both passed me together. I hung on behind both of them for the next few kms.

When we got to the second to last hill and the last big one, Conrad stopped for a drink and Janet and I carried on. On the uphill Janet stopped to adjust her backpack and I pulled a bit ahead thinking she would soon be back... but neither of them were seen again until the end. On the other side of the hill we hit seal road again for the last 5km.

Conrad had a recurrence of a problem that has plagued him for a while now getting serious cramps later in runs. Janet said she just hit the wall and crashed... I know that feeling.

I got there in 1:58:35 and was pretty happy with that, finishing in 3rd for my agegroup.

This was one of the harder runs in that there was quite a bit of all the different surfaces. I ran in trail shoes and that was probably the best decision, but with over one third of the race on sealed road they took a hammering.

Lainy and I then picked up Lyndsey and Damien's wonderful kids and took them up to see their parents still running their marathon.

The Amazing Ross Steele
Then the prizegiving where, just for once, I won a prize for my third place.

A wonderful weekend for both Lainy and I and highly recommended!