North Range Road

Date: 29 August 2015

Distance: 25km

Having a quiet gravel road on top of a mountain with virtually no traffic, through a wind farm with wide open expanses, has to be the ultimate playing ground for runners, walkers and mountain bikers alike. Wonderful scenery in all directions, literally in our backyard, makes it hard not to want to run there all the time. Except, of course, on days with inclement weather. With views from the top of the Tararuas and great scenery in all directions, it is inevitable that you will be exposed to the elements.

Since it’s a point-to-point outing, you need transport to or from either side, and as we all know, it is often hard to find someone, especially non-running friends, to support you on your running endeavours. People who don’t run fail to get why we do it and are quick to make our excitement about blisters, black toe nails and challenging distances, not to mention all the hours of training in all sorts of weather, off as mad.

So we thought this would be the perfect run to do in a group with like-minded folk. RunningHorizons – a FB group aimed at sharing information about training, runs and walks, personal experiences, motivation, group runs/walks etc in Manawatu-Wanganui and the wider lower central North Island region – seemed to be the perfect platform or ask runners/walkers to join. After scouring the events calendar and coming up empty handed for the last weekend of August, Gerry decided to put it out there, hoping to share this great run with others. And we were very happy that 14 runners and walkers decided to join!

Bad weather could potentially ruin the experience and without a contingency plan we were hoping for the best. Luckily the weather god Huey played in our favour, and the day turned out great. A chilly start, with a light wind, but overall really good weather all things considered (winter, Palmy, windfarm …).

The route started at the top of the Pahiatua Track with only a slight incline for the first 3km. Thereafter it is mainly undulating until the last 5km which is a significant downhill. All off-road (jeep track and gravel roads), but nothing technical.

Some muddy sections had to be negotiated. Even in mid-summer when it’s usually fairly dry, we still encountered mud patches, so the time of year really didn’t make much of a difference in terms of that. These are luckily only in a few spots between approximately the 4 and 10km mark, and for the rest it’s a nice gravel road. Easy going.

Gerry was tail-end-Charles, and we were all off the Taratuas in less than three and a half hours. Everybody met up for coffee or a beer and light lunch at The Bridge Cafe which is conveniently placed at the finish.

A great day out with excellent company. Hope this can be repeated in the near future.

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