Introducing the New Plymouth Downhill Demons (12 February 2011)

At seven thirty on a lovely Saturday morning, six of us were outside Henriette’s house in New Plymouth for a casual jog down the Te Henui Walkway and onto the Coastal Walkway to the impressive new Te Rewa Rewa footbridge by the sea.

Gerry and I got word of these outings where a couple of lady friends get together for a run every so often as part of their other training activities: cycling, swimming and tramping. On this particular occasion we were invited to join the group for their 8km social jog. Gerry and I were entered for the Frontrunner 21.1km race, which was due to take place the next day, and we thought that a nice, slow downhill trot would be just the thing to get us going after a week of almost no running. Due to other commitments we only managed one 4km jog during the week, which isn’t exactly the kind of training required for longer races.

This particular run stretches from Henriette’s house, high up in the New Plymouth hills, all the way down towards the sea. A wonderful path that meanders through the suburbs, and mostly runs along the Te Henui walkway, out of the traffic and along the bushy areas next to the Te Henui stream.

Although it was drizzling on and off during the night, we woke up to beautiful weather; cool and cloudy with just a light breeze. Got dressed, gulped down a banana and met up with Marianne, Karen-Lize and Des who were waiting outside. We were still exchanging sleepy hello’s and introductions when Marianne casually mentioned that we would be doing a little “loopy-de-loop” – extra add-on to the planned route, to make the run a wee bit longer. But not to worry, she said, it’s just a small little extra loop.

And off we went on the nice downhill slope from Henriette’s house. Chatting away and enjoying the scenery when out of the blue we reach the first little uphill after about half a kilometre! Suddenly I had my doubts about what promised to be a “downhill” run. But the Downhill Demons were not phased in the least bit – you finish at sea level, after all. Trotting along, Karen-Lize ran off ahead, unaware of Marianne loopy-de-loop plans, and ran past the turn-off. That was the last we saw of her until the finish. And so we were five.

Chitting and chatting away we ran most of the way with just a few walk breaks on the hilliest parts. Marianne’s loopy-de-loop included a larger section of the walkway with its lovely scenery, which is always preferable to competing with traffic on the road. And thanks to this add-on, we completed about a 10km run!

At the bottom of the hill, the Te Henui walkway join up with the Coastal Walkway and we ran the last approximately 2km next to the sea on a fairly flat section. When we reached the Te Rewa Rewa bridge, Alan, Des’ husband (and our lift back home!), awaited us with ice cold water. Karen-Lize was there already and we managed to complete the distance in 1:15. After taking some group pics – thanks Alan! – we drove back to Henriette’s, pleased with our morning out in the fresh air.

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