It’s that time of the year again; freezing nights, frosty mornings and the garlic shoots just starting to poke their heads out of the ground in your vege patch.
It is also time for the Manawatu Striders Winter Series. I will never forget our previous running of these events in 2011 when the windscreen of the car was so frozen, that it took several buckets of water to clear a patch. As soon as the water hit the windscreen, it would just freeze again. That was on the 10km event earlier in July. The 15km was a fair bit warmer at about the same time of the month than this time around, if my memory serves me well. Winter arrived late this year and to top it off, it has been unseasonably warm. Grass was growing in full force, my asparagus still hasn’t died down to recuperate for next years season and our olive grove is full of new growth.
We arrived shortly after nine, registered and had a bit of a chat to some of the other club members. The walkers started 30 minutes earlier and the runners were still mulling around, when suddenly there was an announcement that the race would start in 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – and off we went. It caught quite a few runners off guard and reactions varied from some being angry, others being peeved, to laughs and jokes. It was the funniest thing seeing the havoc the sudden start created, from swearing and bewilderment, to smiles and laughs.
Close to the back, we settling into a nice trot, thanking our lucky stars that the weather turned out good. For most runners, that is. I’m not going to reiterate my preference for warm weather – the hotter the better! Rain was a possibility, but that held off, so with my usual three layers, we breathed in the crisp wintery air, enjoying the outing amongst like-minded folk. Just a light breeze to cool runners down (and freeze my butt!) accompanied us all the way.
The course is mostly flat with the exception of two or three hilly bits, mainly around Massey campus. You can choose between one of four distances; 3km, 5km, 10km and 15km. With lots of little extra loops for those doing the longer runs, and out-and-back sections, there’s always other runners and walkers around making this a very social run. Water is available at 5km intervals, and cleverly planned by the organisers to only have one water point which you pass twice.
Although we’ve been running most days this past week, aiming to reach 60km in total which had me a bit tired, I was still doing okey and we managed to finish in 1:27.
The Striders’ events are not to be missed. There are quite a few scattered throughout the year and the timing of the winter series is very welcome on the winter running calendar. Don’t let the increment weather put you off and go enter for the half marathon on 10 August!