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The Flying Valente

Adventures of a kiwi trail runner

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Race reports

Wellington Urban Ultra (WUU2K)

The Wellington Urban Ultra (or “WUU2K”) was held for the first time this year.  The race was organised by local runner Gareth Thomas, who put in a massive effort to pull off a spectacular inaugural event.  (He has also now been dubbed “evil” – in an affectionate way – in light of his choice of course, but more on that later).  With 60km and 42km options that handily start and finish in the same place, it deserves to go on the bucket-list of any ultra or marathon runner.  Or at least those who like hills!

I was excited about this event, not just because I would get to race on my local trails, but also because of the strong community vibe that surrounded it.  Gareth had a lot of support from local runners, especially WoRM (Wellington Running Meetup).  The volunteers were as excited about the race as the runners were.  The anticipation building up in the weeks prior, and at registration on the Saturday, was palpable.  As proud Wellingtonians who love our local trails, we couldn’t wait to show some off them off.

After a slightly dodgy forecast in the week leading up to it, race day arrived with fine weather and warm (for winter) temperatures.  I got to the start line with a bit of time to spare.  I milled around chatting to a few fellow racers, and Chan and Orsi who would spend the day speeding around to take photos at various locations on course and give updates on our progress.

The start was a casual affair.  There was none of the usual press of eager racers toeing the line; instead a fairly spread out gaggle of runners setting off at their own pace, head lights twinkling in the winter-morning dark.

The race starts at the bottom of Mt Kaukau, and after a short section of easy gradient it quickly turns into a decent hike up steps.  I had decided in advance not to take it too hard up here, to avoid blowing up early.  I chatted to Ash (running with his dog, Scout) for awhile before continuing on.  Before long the top of peak #1 (of 6) loomed as dawn started to break.  Now it was on to the Skyline track, where the real race started.

Conscious I had some time to make up after the hike, I picked up the pace along the undulating Skyline.  I’ve run this trail often (being close to home for me), but never at dawn.  It was beautiful to watch the sky turning pink while the city lights still shone.  Luckily there are sections of the trail that are smooth enough underfoot to take in the view without face-planting!

About two thirds along I passed Chan with his camera out, who snapped me as I was eating my breakfast (peanut butter Gu – a brilliant new discovery).  He told me I was in third with the leading ladies, Jo Johansen and Jean Beaumont, about 7 minutes ahead.  I’d seen their names on the starters list and knew they are both seriously impressive runners, so I wasn’t about to try to chase them down.  Instead I focused on staying in third and not pushing too hard early in the race.  As a relative newbie to ultras (this was my second after the 60km at Tarawera in February) I am still figuring out pacing, so I wanted to run my own race.

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Soon I was at the end of the Skyline and the first aid station came into view.  I still had plenty of fluid and was in the groove, so carried on straight through.  We crossed Makara Hill road and the climb up to peak #2, Makara Peak, began.  Makara Mountain Bike Park is home to some beautiful single track.  After winding our way up Varley’s and the 4wd track to the peak, we began the descent.  The race took in some lesser-known trails out in Nikau Valley that I hadn’t run before, so the next part was new territory.

As we neared the intersection with our next single-track adventure I began to hear bagpipes.  An impressive multi-tasking marshal soon came into view, pointing the direction while playing sombre Scottish tunes.  I grinned and waved before plunging down Leaping Lizard.  I had heard people refer to Possum Bait Line, the trail climbing back out of the gully, with some trepidation.  I actually loved Nikau Valley (climb out included) and made a resolution to run there in future.  It feels much more remote than the rest of Makara and there is some nice kanuka forest on the climb out.

Once out of Nikau Valley I was back into known territory.  Soon there was a fast descent down the 4wd.  As I almost flew past the entrance to Sally Alley, I caught sight of a small yellow ribbon (the course marking colour) on the sign.  It was easy to miss so I wondered whether it was in fact the course, but peering down the trail I saw another and veered down to follow it.  As I continued, though, the yellow ribbons stopped, and I realised the guy who had been running behind me on the 4wd was no longer there.  I was pretty sure I’d taken the wrong turn.  I knew this trail did meet back up with the 4wd though (via a more winding route), so I carried on rather than back tracking.

Emerging at the next intersection I saw runners coming down the 4wd and confirmed I had, indeed, taken a small detour.  Not to worry.  The next trail was beautiful, smooth downhill and I pushed the speed to make up for lost time.  Soon I was at the bottom of Makara and at the next aid station, which I bowled straight through.  Crossing the road it was time for the next climb up to Wright’s Hill via Salvation, one of my favourite trails in the area.  It’s the most runnable climb on the course and I decided to push it a bit here to make up for lost time.

Just below the summit of Wright’s Hill (peak #3) we cut across to join the Fenceline track. This undulates its way around to the iconic Wind Turbine (on peak #4).  As I approached the Wind Turbine I began hearing snatches of music.  Wait – was that Star Wars theme music?  As I got closer I confirmed that indeed it was.  I rounded the corner to see Cam in a wookie suit yelling my name through a loud speaker, a brass band in full Star Wars dress behind him.  You couldn’t make this stuff up.

At the Turbine aid station I finally caught up to the guy who had been behind me at Makara, about an hour after my wrong turn.  I guzzled some water and flat coke, grabbed a biscuit and continued on to the next section of beautiful single track heading along the ridge toward the South Coast.  Along here I passed a few marathoners, until we reached the top of the Tip Track where the two courses split.  After that I was on my own all the way to the coast (aside from seeing Chris Swallow coming up from Red Rocks in the opposite direction, who gave some encouragement as he passed).

Dropping down to the South Coast I reached the next unfamiliar part of the course.  Shockingly I had never run along Red Rocks before.  I don’t think I’ll be back in a hurry.  The flat, slightly sandy track doesn’t have much variation and seemed to drag on.  By this time my body was starting to register the fact that I’d already run a marathon.  I was looking forward to picking up my wonderful pacer, Emma, at the Owhiro Bay aid station for a bit of an emotional pick-me-up.

Emma had been manning the aid station while waiting for me to arrive, and as I came in she and her fellow aid station crew jumped into action.  My bottles were filled and gel supplies replenished while I removed one of my shoes to empty out some stones.  We set off again at a decent pace, the short stop and excited cheering of supporters having done wonders for my energy levels.  Emma’s ever-sunny presence was a huge boost.

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As we ran the short section of pavement from Owhiro Bay to the Tip Track we caught up on how the day had gone.  Emma told me I was only about 12 minutes behind Jean, which was a happy surprise – I’d assumed the leaders would be further ahead by now, especially with my accidental detour coming down Makara.  I was making good time and realised I was on track to come in under 7 hours 30 mins (having originally estimated about 7:45-8 hours).  We settled on a new goal of hanging on to third and sneaking in under 7:30.

Tip Track soon loomed and a group of WoRM marshals at the bottom cheered me on up the hill.  This part of the course is what earned Gareth his “evil” descriptor.  The Tip Track is the longest sustained hill near Wellington City, climbing at a reasonably tough gradient for about 4kms.  It’s an out and back from the main course – we had already run past the top of the Tip Track earlier in the race (where the marathoners split off), and we would be going in the opposite direction to finish on Mt Victoria.

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Weirdly I actually kind of enjoyed the Tip Track.  I had resigned myself before race day to hiking it, so I saw it as a break from running and a chance to get some fuel down.  Emma and I chatted all the way up, providing a nice contrast to the solitude of the previous hour or so.  And because it was an out-and-back it was quite social: friendly runners coming in the other direction shouted encouragement as they passed.  Around half way up we saw Jo coming down, and about three quarters of the way up we saw Jean, giving a good indication of where I was in the pack.

I decided to storm the descent, not attempting to spare my quads, since the Tip Track was the last sustained downhill.  This worked out in my favour, as it turned out, as even with that my quads were in pretty good shape by the end of the race.  I had great fun hurtling down the hill and probably had a huge grin on my face!

Next, though, I had my roughest patch in the race.  Crossing the road at the bottom of the Tip Track we climbed up through Tawatawa reserve.  My legs were having trouble kicking back into uphill mode here, and I walked a bit.  After running down the other side and through the golf course we began the steepest climb in the race, up to Mt Albert (peak #5).  It’s short but extremely tough – even on my best days I would never attempt to run it!  It was hands-on-knees grunting and I was starting to wane.

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But we were rewarded for our efforts with the last aid station, full of cheering WoRMers and… CUPCAKES!  I downed some coke and took a cupcake for the road.  Once I’d got that down I felt (almost) good as new, and was able run most of the rest of the course.  Sometimes the strangest things work during ultras!

We were getting close now and I could feel the finish line pulling me.  We passed the zoo and a cheery Sharron marshaling, then trotted up the last hill at what felt to me like a reasonable pace.  Emma was counting down the kms to go for me, and glancing at my watch I saw I would easily beat 7:30 and maybe even crack 7:20.

The finish line of this race is probably the meanest – yet most fitting to Wellington – that you’ll ever find.  There’s a final steep ramp of about 80 metres or so that is hard work on a good day, yet alone at the end of an ultra.  As a Wellingtonian I knew this was coming, but I felt sorry for the out-of-towners rounding that last corner.

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Stationed near the bottom of the ramp we came across a heard of cows.  No, I wasn’t hallucinating, it was in fact a bunch of WoRM runners dressed in cow onesies!  They proceeded to “pace” me to the bottom of the hill, hollering as they went.

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Soon their shouts of encouragement were replaced by those of the spectators waiting at the finish line.  That last little climb was painful but it felt amazing to reach the top.  I gratefully accepted my medal, along with sweaty hugs from Gareth and announcer-extraordinaire Margo.

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What a finish line!  We could see all around the skyline to the peaks we had scaled that day, framed by a glittering blue harbour.  The sunshine encouraged us to hang around for awhile, seeing in more runners, eating delicious burgers and comparing notes from the day.

After a quick shower and spot of legs-up-the-wall the day was rounded off with a prizegiving at Tuatara Third Eye.  A fitting end for a race in the craft beer capital.

All-in-all WUU2K was an excellent day out.  I have high hopes it will become a regular and prominent fixture on the New Zealand race calendar.  For me, it was part of my build up to some bigger things on the horizons – the Kodiak Ultra 50 miler in California in September and the inaugural Taupo Ultra 100km in October.  Watch this space!

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T42 Marathon

T42 tested my determination (or stubbornness) more than any other race.  Not because of the weather – it was beautiful and sunny, not too cold or too hot. And not because of the course – a 4wd track with very runnable hills and long descents, which should have suited my strengths.  The track was muddy, admittedly, but mud has never phased me too much.

It was hard because my stomach tried to sabotage me. (Traitor! …I didn’t mean that, I promise I’ll be nicer to you next time).  I got a bad case of the stitch that started about 1km in and never left.  Sure, I’ve had the stitch before in races, but for half an hour or so perhaps.  This time no matter what I did (long out breaths, hands in the air, core tensing, and various fuelling strategies or, eventually, nothing at all) it just wouldn’t go away.

So it was a battle of a different kind.  Not between me and the other runners, but between me and my stomach.  While I willed my feet to propel me forward, my squirming insides willed me to stop.  It was a “character building” race, and I tried to treat it as good mental training!

The day started off well.  Waking up in a cute-as-a-button railway cottage with a contingent of cheery Wellington running friends, my race preparation went to plan.  The sky outside was clear and the air surprisingly warm.  Emma and I strolled down to The Park Hotel and loaded ourselves onto a bus full of excited marathoners making its way to the start line.  On arrival we discovered the mandatory gear list had been shortened in light of the balmy weather, and it became warm enough in the sun to strip down to our singlets for the race start.  After a last pit-stop at the porta loos, we were off.

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The race starts with a short loop around farmland before joining the 42 Traverse trail.  It’s a slightly mean start, with lumpy farmland ground, mud, fences and short steep ramps making it difficult to get into a rhythm.  But within a few kms we were onto the trail and the going became a bit easier.  I could see one woman up ahead and was fairly sure she was the only one in front of me.  By this stage the dreaded stitch had arrived, and rather than trying to keep up with the front pack I decided to take it easy until my stomach calmed down and give chase on the long downhill (which is usually my forte).  The track undulates for a while before the downhill starts in earnest around 10kms or so in.

Unfortunately, when the downhill arrived the stitch still hadn’t subsided.  Where I would usually thunder down steep descents with reckless abandon, I was instead reduced to a pitiful shuffle as the added jolting made me almost double over.  On the bright side, I provided some entertainment for various passing mountain bikers as I tried all sorts of interesting manoeuvres in an attempt to stay upright.  Mountain biker: “why are you running with your hands in the air?”  Me: “I’m just so excited!” (mountain biker looks dubious – clearly my excited face is unconvincing).

By this stage I had given up on my original rough goal of under 4 hours, and focused instead on clinging to what I thought was second place.  Much to my surprise, no one passed me on the downhill.  Then the uphill arrived.  Not usually my strongest part of races, but today I knew it would be my only chance to make up ground.  The reduced bouncing of the uphill meant my stitch almost went away for a while.  Yes, my horrendous stitch experience did have an upside: I learned to love the uphills!  The uphills on this course were particularly nice, being a gentle “runnable” gradient most of the way.

The course has a few ups and downs in the middle section, and each time we started to descend again my stomach tied itself in knots.  On a more positive note, each “down” came with a river crossing at the lowest point. These were my favorite part of the race.  Since the rest of the course was a bit boggy, I left each crossing feeling refreshed after a good dousing!

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On the second (longest) uphill, I actually managed to pass 2 male marathoners.  They looked a bit worse for wear and I suspect they had tried to cling on to the lead group a little too long.  But passing some people after a long period of seeing no other runners still gave me a bit of a much-needed mental boost, and I carried on pushing upward.

My stomach woes meant I had hardly taken on any fuel.  I’d had about one gel’s worth from my gel flask early on, which my grumpy belly did not like, and I tried to nibble on an aid-station banana but that similarly failed.  At about 40km I resorted to my secret weapon: a soft flask full of flat ginger beer.  While it didn’t make my stomach feel better, it didn’t make it worse either, and the sugar provided at least a little energy to keep my legs moving.  I just had to keep sipping regularly – each sip provided an instant boost, but the crash came almost as quickly!  I was like a small, temperamental child on a sugar high. Not the best long-term race strategy, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

After the last painful downhill that felt like it would never end, we entered a short but sweet section of beautiful single track.   Then came the final climb of about 2km to the finish line.  While I would usually resent finishing with a climb, this time I could hardly wait for it to arrive.  The pain in my legs was nothing over the stomach pain I had on downhills and flats!  So with renewed purpose I set off up the hill, and actually enjoyed the last couple of kms.  As the terrain opened up I could see another runner a hundred metres or so behind me, which provided a little motivation to keep up the pace.

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Soon I could hear the finish line, but my watch said I still had about one and a half kms to go.  I figured it must be one of those cruel finish line tricks where they make you loop around the field before finally making it to the finish line, so I deliberately saved some energy for the last km.  But, to my surprise, I rounded a corner to see the line right ahead of me!  I sprinted over the line, grateful to be finished but also slightly miffed I hadn’t had a chance to use up the last bit of juice in my legs.

I was greeted by a contingent of cheering friends (who had done shorter distances and already finished).  Happily, I realised I’d come in under 4 hours despite giving up on that goal early on in the race.

The prizegiving for the shorter distances was in full swing, so I wasn’t announced over the line.  No one seemed to know what place I was, although I was fairly certain I was in second.  A couple of minutes after me Emma arrived, stoked with a good day out and fast time given the muddy conditions and her recent break from training.

I couldn’t help but get over my sour mood quickly – the sun was shining, there were smiling people around me and soon I had a burger and well-earned beer in my hands.  A short while later Emma confirmed we were indeed  second and third females, which we were both chuffed with. As James later pointed out, not a bad result for two invalids!

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The rest of the day was spent scrubbing the mud off, snacking and beer drinking on the deck of our cottage, and eating a very large steak at the local pub after putting in a brief showing at prizegiving.

All in all, despite a hard race that could have been a complete disaster, it ended up being a fun weekend away with a great crew of Wellington runners. And the race did a lot to build mental resilience and help me learn to love the uphills! I’ll have to return next year to experience the course properly (fast and loose descents included).

Tarawera Ultra 2016

Last weekend I ran my first ultra.  And what an event to pick!  Tarawera Ultra is probably the best-known ultra in New Zealand, and the only one that is part of the Ultra Trail World  Tour.  It attracts elites and recreational runners alike from across the country and the world.  This year I believe there were runners from 39 countries entered – pretty impressive for a tiny country at the ends of the earth!

I chose to run the Tarawera 60km (actually around 63km this year after a course change) as my first ultra because I know a number of Wellingtonians who have done it in previous years and absolutely loved it.  I can see why.  It’s not just about beautiful scenery and stunning trails, although they are a big part of it. Paul and Tim, the event organisers, do an amazing job of putting together four days of festivities, including a rogaine, race welcome in the marae at Te Piua, race expo, elite athlete Q&A session and film evening.  The event is also supported by a huge contingent of enthusiastic volunteers (350 this year), who really make the event what it is.

I arrived in Rotorua on the Thursday night.  I was staying in a house near the Holiday Inn (race HQ) and Redwoods (where the start line is), along with two friends who were also running and their partners.  My partner had to work on Friday so arrived early on Saturday morning and met me at the finish line.

Friday was taken up with the race welcome, expo, briefings, registration and organising drop bags.  By the time Friday night arrived we were filled with nervous excitement.  I talked to my friend Emma, who had run Tarawera in previous years but was doing her first 100km this year, about the forecast and our goals.  The weather for Saturday was looking relatively warm but wet, so she was adjusting her goal finish time in anticipation of potentially tough conditions.

I was quite pleased about the forecast – I don’t deal well with sun and heat, and being from Wellington I’m fairly comfortable on muddy trails!  I hadn’t had an ideal lead-up to Tarawera, to say the least.  Over the last six months I’d had a stress fracture in my left foot then a soft tissue injury in my right foot (which had still been rearing its head right up to race day), so I’d spent a lot more time on the cycle trainer than running.  But in a way that meant I approached the race in quite a good mental space.  I didn’t have any expectations about time – I just wanted to get out on the trails and have fun.  I did say I would be really stoked to make it to the finish in under 8 hours, but I wasn’t putting any pressure on myself.

At 5:10am the next morning we were on our way to the Redwoods.  It was raining, as promised, but warm even at that hour.  Leaving Jen to say a quick goodbye to her partner Rob, Emma and I jumped out of the car and joined the stream of scantily-clad runners. After a quick toilet stop we made our way to the start line.  The Redwoods looked amazing all lit up, reminding me of the dance parties I used to go to in the forest.  Emma and I joked that in our younger days we would have still been up partying at this time.

I wasn’t sure where to position myself, but Emma kept pulling me further to the front.  Eventually we found ourselves a spot a few metres back from the line.  The air was electric with the excitement of thousands of runners, and this vibe was only intensified when a group of men arrived and performed a haka. A few minutes later and we were off into the forest, thousands of head torches and glow sticks lighting the way.

I was soon glad I had trusted Emma’s judgment and started near the front – as it was I had to slow or briefly stop at times waiting for people ahead of me, and a runner I spoke to later on said it was much worse further back in the pack. I noticed a lot of people sliding over, but I didn’t have any trouble in my La Sportiva Helios, my favourite trail shoes.  They held me in good stead all day.  I felt sorry for those at the back of the pack, as the trail must have been pretty cut up by the time they got to it.

The first section through Redwoods was really a matter of trying to stay near enough to the front to avoid congestion without pushing too hard early on.  A course change had added an extra hill, but seemed to do a good job of splitting up the field a bit.  By the time I was 4 kms in we were quite well staggered, at least where I was.  I dropped my head torch off with volunteers and carried on under the steadily-brightening sky.  A short time later I reached the top of the hill and began a fast, steep descent to Blue Lake on a four wheel drive road.

Blue Lake was beautiful.  The course circumnavigates the whole lake (about 5kms) on trails that are mostly flat and not very technical.  I really got some speed up here and had a lot of fun.  At the end of this section there was a gear-check (we were required to carry seam-sealed jackets given the conditions) and shortly after that the first aid station.  I grabbed a handful of pretzels and carried on.

After Blue Lake we headed onto the first technical section of trail.  It was muddy and there were a lot of tree roots.  I love this kind of stuff, and ended up passing quite a few people here.  It was on this section that I caught up to Emma for the first time (we swapped places a bit throughout the race – she’s really strong on the uphills and I love the downhills).  We had a quick chat, confirmed we were both feeling good, then I carried on.

We popped out onto the short section of road through Okareka.  This was the only part of the race where I felt my foot injury a little, but it calmed down again as soon as I got back on the trails.  I also started struggling with stitch here and was doing all sorts of strange things while running to try to get it to go away.  At the end of the road section there was another aid station (Miller Road) with volunteers dressed up in Santa outfits.  I grabbed an almond-butter sandwich and some more pretzels and carried on through.

The stretch from Miller Road through to Lake Okataina is the longest stretch without an aid station and also has the most elevation gain.  I slowed to a walk up the hills here to conserve energy and to try to get some food down and settle my stomach.  The stitch would return on the downhills but I managed to get it under control by focusing on long exhalations.  After the final summit, there’s a long, steep and technical downhill to Okataina.  The track was extremely rutted (you could lose a whole leg in those holes) and the clay was slippery in places.  I managed to fly down it pretty quick with no bails and only one near-miss, passing more people as I went.

Okataina aid station, about 40kms in, was my longest rest.  I had a drop bag here and changed my socks (into another pair of Icebreakers – they’re great in the wet) to give my poor wet feet a break.  I opted not to change my shoes since my La Sportivas were performing so well in the mud – but it’s amazing what just changing socks can do!  Instant relief.  The next day when washing my socks I could see why – they were dotted with bidi bids and small sticks and stones.  I also grabbed some potato chips, ginger beer and a piece of hot-crossed bun.  This turned out to be an amazing combo, and it was all I could get down for the rest of the race.  Gels gave me stitch but ginger beer and potato chips were fine!  Go figure.

Two funny things happened at Okataina aid station.  First, after changing my socks one of the guys I had passed on the downhill arrived and remarked that I went down that hill like a stone (or something to that effect).  I said thank you, and chucked inwardly that this was probably the only context in which it is acceptable, and even complimentary, for a man to say such a thing to a woman.  Second, I thought I saw Emma and started saying something to her before realising it was someone else who looked remarkably similar.  I found out later she stayed within a couple of minutes of Emma the whole race, and Rob had taken pictures of her at the first aid station thinking it was Emma!

I carried on from Okataina feeling like a new woman after a change of socks and some gingerbeer, snacking on chips as I ran.  The next section along the lake was just stunning.  The rain had let up and a bit of sun even poked through at times.  The views were amazing and the trail had changed from slippery mud to sandier, well-drained soil.  There were quite a few undulations through here and some rocks and roots to keep us on our toes, but nothing too crazy.  There were also some sections where we wound our way on a small track through thick beds of moss on either side, which was just spectacular.  I wish I had some photos of the trail through here!

I had expected to feel awful from 30 or 40kms on given my longest run in the last 3 months had been 21kms, but to my surprise and delight I was still overtaking people and feeling strong.  I chatted with a few fellow runners when our paths crossed, which made the time go quite quickly.  Before I knew it I was at the outlet, the last aid station before the 60km finish. I stuck with my gingerbeer-chips-hot crossed bun combo and had a quick chat to the friendly volunteers (who were Hawaiian-themed this time).  Then on I went.

The last section from the outlet to Tarawera falls was so beautiful.  The track was wide and easy, the bush was beautiful and we wound down alongside the river with amazing views of the waterfalls and cool fresh water.  I would have loved to stop and admire it, but I was willing my tired legs to run.  Soon I came around the corner to see the finish line ahead – I had made it!  I managed a quick sprint (or what felt like one at least) over the line.  Tim, who was announcing, had to call me back to collect my medal – I kept going because I didn’t see the timing mat and didn’t know if I had crossed it yet!

My time was 7:39, so I’d made it in under 8 hours as I had hoped.  I was stunned and overjoyed when Tim told me I’d also come in 4th, and placed a beautiful wooden medal over my head with my place carved on it.  I hadn’t had a clue where I was in the pack.  James and Chris were there to greet me with hugs and congratulations.  Chris was about to start pacing Emma, who came through a few minutes later.  James and I drove to the 100km finish at Kawerau, ate some tacos, then soaked in the hot pools while waiting for Emma to finish.  The perfect thing for weary muscles on a rainy day!

Emma pulled an impressive finish out of the bag to complete in 12th place, just seconds after her doppelganger.  Even more impressively, she still had enough energy left to leap into the air and onto her coach after crossing the finish line.  Together we all made our way home (via Oppies to collect fish and chips), still buzzing from the day and stoked with our achievements.

I would highly recommend Tarawera to anyone.  The level of support from volunteers and the achievable terrain (about 2050m of vertical in the 60km – which isn’t bad as far as ultras go) make it great for a first attempt at a distance, or for a PB.  Sadly I won’t be able to make it next year due to a friend’s wedding the same weekend, but I’ll definitely be back to try the hundred one day!

During the drive back to Wellington, I bit the bullet and signed up for the Kodiak Ultra 50 miler (about 80kms) in the mountains around Big Bear Lake in California.  We’re travelling in the USA at that time anyway and I’d been considering the race for awhile, but I was waiting to see how Tarawera panned out.  I think I can safely say that Tarawera has me hooked on ultra running!  I can’t wait for the next one.  Kodiak is in September, and I’ve also signed up for the Wellington Urban Ultra 60km in July as part of my training. Here’s to a fantastic season of trails ahead.

 

Image credit: Matt Trappe Photo & Film.

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