I’ve got three weeks until the Rotorua Multisport Festival and I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to prepare for that kind of distance on a trail, but I’ve been (slowly) working my way towards double digits.
Saturdays planned “long run” was a 9k loop in the Cascade Kauri Regional Park (my local) and on Friday night I successfully talked James into coming with me the next morning, (in all honesty I expected him to bail, he’s not a fan of early mornings BUT he proved me wrong – although it could have something to do with me rambling on about how he made me climb up that cliff in Whatipu all by myself). 😉
The planned loop was Auckland City Walk, Upper Kauri Track, Long Road, Fence Line, remainder of the Auckland City Walk. It’s 9.0k if completed as listed or 10.5k if you return along Auckland City Walk to finish where you started. From what I can gather this loop is the Montana Heritage Trail, but don’t quote me on that – I can’t for the life of me find a map showing the exact route of the Heritage Trail and it’s listed as 8k’s but this loop is longer (according to both Run Keeper & my Garmin).
I’ve only done a tiny portion of the Fence Line Track with the kids so I didn’t know what to expect, however on Friday night James mentioned that he had run it in it’s entirety the day we went along to the “Rainforest Adventure Run for Beginners” and went onto explain that there were a lot of wooden stairs and boardwalks on the section between the Auckland City Walk and the Waitakere Dam (which you pass along the way).
As my knee’s hate stairs with a passion
we I decided we would turn into the Fence Line Track from the Auckland City Walk first and come back down using the Upper Kauri track. My knees prefer to go up stairs so I didn’t want to have to descend a tonne of stairs to finish and I’ve traversed the Upper Kauri track in it’s entirety a number of times now so it’s always nice to finish on a track that you are familiar with.
The Fenceline track was upgraded only a few years ago and now has a good surface layer to minimise some of the famous Waitakere mud. In addition, a few of the steeper sections of the track have been realigned. (Distance, 4.4km)
Firstly as James noted, there are a number of stairs on the first section – on a positive note, there are about 200 less than the number on the Okura Bushway and they have a much wider tread due to the fact that these are conventional wooden stairs bridging levels as opposed to ones cut into the side of a hill like the ones found at Okura. The downside of that is that they were quite slippery in places, although that could have been due to the fact that it was very early in the morning so the sun had yet to burn off the dew.
There are a number of viewing platforms with seats along the way (which is where James would wait for me to catch up) and signs pointing out things of interest.
Once you pass the dam the Fence Line Track becomes much more of a tramping track with long sections of steep, root infested, muddy track. Keep an eye out for “off shoot” trails which will lead you around the worst sections of the track (or just go straight ahead if you wanna get dirty) most of these have Heritage Trail signs pointing out the entrance but some do not. The first off shoot trail definitely wasn’t signposted so, if whilst on the Fenceline Track you get to a junction and think which way? Both will get you to the same place, but straight ahead will ALWAYS involve mud and turning usually allows you to run along soft forest floor (thanks Montana!).
I preferred the section of track after the dam (as I’m not a fan of stairs and boardwalks) and my favorite part of the entire loop was the first off shoot track that you come to on the Fenceline Track, it was a slight descent of single track running on the soft forest floor during that one section I felt like I could run forever (or at least until the next hill). 😉 and apart from the fact that this track (in it’s entirety) is long it is a track that I’d take my kids (believe you me, there are plenty of tracks I wouldn’t take them).
We were making pretty good time (for me) until about 7.5k’s when my knee started grumping and with a kilometer to go it became excruciating! Thankfully I had poles (and panadol) so I hobbled down the hill and James took my pack. I didn’t want him too, because I figured he wouldn’t always be with me so I’d have to be able to get myself back to the car, but he put his foot down (and since he doesn’t do that very often I figured he was serious). That last one kilometer took 23 minutes! (And yes I nearly cried (with both pain and frustration) – but there were quite a few people on the trail by then so I put my big girl pants on and concentrated on getting back down the hill).
I rested yesterday so the plan is to do a short trail run today after work (sticking to the lower trails) hopefully my knee just hates the repetitiveness over a long period of time, fingers crossed if I keep it short it’ll be ok .. well soon see!
Till next time