Tips on running technical trails

Last week while perusing Running Calendar I came across Trail Buster Karekare – a team event being held this weekend (at Karekare).

Neither James or I had been to Karekare before, which is a sad thing for someone who has lived in West Auckland for over 2/3rds of her life to admit, at least James (being a Brit) has an excuse. Although James was adamant we had (as he was sure he’d been down “this road” before) – believe you me, the closest he’d been to Karekare is when I drove past the turn off on our way to Piha and pointed in it’s general direct saying “The Piano was filmed down there”.

The Trail Buster Karekare had intrigued me and I suggested to James that we head to Karekare and run the 11km course a week early (saving us $49 each and the pain of having to share the trails with hundreds of other people – although in this instance I was more concerned about the parking situation (there are only two car parks at Karekare) and I’d say that the people completing the 23km would snap those spots up as they start out first).  In the back of my mind I’d figured that if I really enjoyed it, we could sign up for the 16km course the following week.

We set out quite early on Saturday morning and I snapped photograph of the map before we set off as there is no cellphone coverage,  I’m unfamiliar with the area and  (most importantly) I have the propensity to get lost.

As we made your way up Mt Zion the views were simply stunning. We took every one of little side trails to take it all in, the majestic coastlines we have in West Auckland are simply beyond compare.

Photo stop!

We then took the Zion Ridge track and headed away from the coast and even though you lose the coastal views it’s still very beautiful although the further along the loop we got the more technical the trail became. And the more technical the trail became the slower I got and the more annoyed James got. Not with me as such – he was just getting hungry and this trail was taking much longer than usual.

I ended up feeding him some of my emergency supplies (the stuff I carry in case I get lost and need to survive out in the forest until someone finds me) while lecturing him about why you should always go out into the forest “over prepared” especially when you are with your wife who you know isn’t as fast as – well basically every other trail runner in the world. 😉

Muddy, root strewn and steep in places

In an aid to help save marriages around the world I thought I’d share some tips on how to run the more technical of trails, quicker ..

Keep your elbows wide for added balance. I’m also VERY upper body dominant so I’ll often use grab trees and fling myself across ridges or mud patches – I even bear crawl up steeper sections. Whatever works I say ..

Keep your feet light.  Your stride will be different than when you run on the roads because it’s very rare that you’ll be able to run a straight line, instead you’ll generally hop from side to side. You’ll also need lift your feet higher off the ground to clear rocks and tree roots.

Arms wide, feet light.

Focus on looking approx 5 meters ahead of you to create the easiest line of travel, doing this will keep you focused and in the moment which perhaps is one of the greatest gifts you will get from trail running.

Listen out for other people on the trail, believe me, you’ll hear them before you see them. I’ve found other people are generally the most technical hazards of all, they’ll often do things you wouldn’t expect in a million years .. 😉

Which brings me to perhaps the most important tip I can give you is (which I found out after encountering people doing things you wouldn’t expect) … .

DO NOT run into nonyielding objects (to avoid people who stop dead in the middle of the trail as you run downhill at speed)

Julia 0 – Tree 1

because the nonyielding object will win!  And it will hurt .. a lot! But you won’t cry, (even though you could) because you are a hard arse mother trucking trail runner!

Till next time





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