Stranger Danger

Whenever I turn up to a trail head at the same time as another person/group I tend to take some extra time to “sort out my shit” so that they leave before me – that is unless they look like they are going to amble along – eg they’re wearing jandals, then I do my utmost to leave first.

I do this for the same reason I dislike running with other people (other than James).   When someone is in my immediate vicinity I feel like I have to keep moving and well that’s not really my kind of trail running – I’m more of the “oooohhh look it’s a fantail!” stop in my tracks and grab my camera kind of runner ..

Think of it like this – you know when you’re in a shopping mall and the person in front of you just stops? .. We’ll out on the trail I’d be “that person” .. nobody likes “that person”. 😉

So yesterday when I pulled into the car park at the Lower Huia Dam to find a mountain biker gathering his gear together I hung around the car for longer than I usually would so that I could leave after him – unfortunately although I left a big enough gap that I shouldn’t have caught him, I did because he stopped at the toilet block.

Thankfully while I was exploring the Lower Dam (a 1km detour), I saw him set off down the trail that leads to the Upper Huia Dam which I would eventually traverse so I was back to having a buffer, which was great as I’m not that big a fan of running solo in a new area with  “random men”.

The track started off reasonably flat but quickly starts climbing steeply.  It was on this section that I saw the mountain biker walking up the hill, which seemed weird to me he should have been much further ahead.  I was in two minds, should I slow down so that I stayed behind him or should I just turn around and go home?

In the end I did neither option, instead just as I was about to catch up I grabbed a rock.  As I pulled level  with him (keeping his bike between us) I turned towards him and joked about how at least he could ride down the other side.  He smiled and told me how he’d had heart surgery six months ago and this was his first time back.  I nonchalantly dropped the rock.  He wasn’t a dodgy – just out of practice and a little unfit.

I ended up losing him on that uphill section but when I heard him careening down the other side I turned to give him the double thumbs up.  From that point, I knew I’d probably catch and overtake him on the uphill sections but he would eventually catch up.   I ended up overtaking him on the next significant hill and we ended up with a decent gap between us.

How do I know this? Well in short I reached this ..

If there is one thing I hate more than running with other people, it’s tunnels EVERYONE knows that tunnels are where all the Zombies live!  I stepped inside and I was pretty sure I could just see the other end of the tunnel but I wasn’t positive and even though I tried twice to run through solo I chickened out both times.  I considered turning around and heading back, but I was so close to the Upper Dam that it seemed stupid to turn around at this point, so I did what any resourceful woman who is not keen on tunnels would do – I waited for my knight in shining bike helmet to catch up so that he could go through first lololol.

(Hence the reason I knew I’d built up a decent gap – I waited for quite some time).

When he arrived I explained that I was waiting for him because I didn’t want to go through the tunnel alone, he was very chivalrous, turned on his bike lamp (which didn’t actually penetrate the darkness, he really needs an upgrade) and pedaled slowly next to me as I ran through it.   I wasn’t sure what I’d do on the way back, but I figured that as I’d have already been through it I’d know how long it was and that there were in fact no Zombies (which btw in this instance there weren’t).

I ended up pulling away from him on a hill section and it wasn’t until I was heading back after exploring the Upper Huia Dam that I saw him again (he’d gone off to explore a bridge we’d passed on the way).  As it’s mostly a downhill return and I’d taken a tonne of photos on the way out I ended up running the entire return route solo because I didn’t have to stop as often, but it was kind of comforting to know that he was behind me, should I need him.

It sure is lucky I didn’t knock him out with that rock on our first encounter. 😉

Till next time





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