On a FREEZING cold Sunday morning James and I lined up with 334 other “eager souls” underneath the Giant Redwoods of the Whakarewarewa Forest in Rotorua to embark on our first trail running event.
James entered the Half Marathon, which had the smallest field (75) and I was going to run the 10.5k which incidentally had the biggest number of entrants of the 3 running events on offer with 143 in total.
All of the runners started together so James, (who wanted to run fast) made his way to the front and I headed for the back so as to stay out of the way of those who actually wanted to race.
At the gun we all shuffled across the start line and made our way along the course and it was pretty much what I imagined sharing a trail with 300+ other people would be ..
Let’s just say that it’s more like driving in Auckland’s peak time traffic than the trail running that I am used too (and love), I also just couldn’t stop whenever I saw some amazing scenery that I wanted to capture, although to be fair, I spent most of the event looking down at the shoes of the person in front of me but I saw enough to know that it looks nothing like the Waitakere Ranges.
On a positive, the people surrounding me were a friendly bunch from various places around New Zealand. My pacer ended up being a local, a little lady in hot pink who WALKED the entire event at my running speed (actually scrap that she walked FASTER than my running speed).
She would giggle every time I caught up with her and asked how the fuck she could walk so fast and I lost sight of her with about 1.5k’s to go, but she found me at the end as I was waiting for James to cross the finish line and give me a high five (although it was her that deserved one)!
James and I had discussed our finishing goals as we walked to our motel after picking up our race numbers the day before. I envisaged 1:45 as I thought 10 minutes per kilometer sounded reasonable for a terrain I wasn’t familiar with and sharing single trails with a million other runners. James thought that was ridiculous as he can walk faster that that, but yeah, I’m the one in our family who actually trains out on the trails so I knew (for me) that was a reasonable time goal.
James said he’d be happy with anything under 2 hours ..
After actually running on a trail, James decided that 2:09 wasn’t that bad .. lolol
People that don’t run trails often underestimate how the difference in terrain slows you down, it’s not just hills that you have to contend with! Although to be fair, the majority of this particular course wasn’t technical in nature but there were rutted sections along the back half of the course to contend with – in fact, those parts reminded me of home. 😉
On our journey home James said “If you do that again, I’m definitely going to get it under 2 hours!”
We won’t though ..
Why? A number of reasons ..
It’s FREEZING, like actually FREEZING with ice on the ground and everything!
I didn’t think it was that well organised. I know it’s a huge event with various disciplines racing on the same day but I don’t think that’s an excuse. One example of this would be the marshaling out on the course. The 5k run/walk (which a lot of kids did) turned off the main track as it was a shorter loop and although at the start line they continually stated that you should follow the markers for your bib color the 5k turn off wasn’t that well marked and I (and the participants around me) thought that they should have posted someone at that junction to point people in the right direction.
It’s a long way to travel and being a tourist town everything was expensive – want to feed a trout? $40.00 please (each) .. ummm yeah nah. On a side note, we could have gone exploring (for free) but James had run a half marathon through a forest and he vetoed anything that involved walking, which in my opinion was completely reasonable. I was pretty happy to soak in the hot tub for the day because well …
It was FREEZING!
I wore long sleeves the entire time and I may have considered killing a weak looking human for some gloves (because like I said, it was FREEZING). I did warm up during the run to the point where I could have taken off my long sleeves but not so hot that I had to stop to remove a layer (which sometimes happens at home, which is why I tend not to wear long sleeves unless I really have too). But as soon as I crossed the finish line it was back to – you guessed it, being freezing!
Unfortunately my phone battery died (and James didn’t take a phone) so this is as close as you are going to get to see photos of us “on the day” although you can see my finishing photo here and James here (but I don’t look cute enough to pay that amount of money for a photo). 😉
Till next time