The David Fletcher Mortgages Urban Trail Run

Date: 11 June 2017
Distance: 12.5km
Time: 1:40

While we were in New Plymouth for the weekend, we figured we might as well participate in another Cut a Trail event. The previous one was most enjoyable and since this one was cheap enough, we thought we’ll give it a go.

As an out-of-towner you can’t pre-enter, meaning you inevitably pay the late entry fee of $15 ($10 for locals if you pre-register at the Frontrunner shop during the course of the week). You also don’t come into account for certain of the spot-prizes if you enter late. But, I guess, these events are small and low-key community events – not really meant for outsiders. That might also explain why there were no water points or toilets. The latter being a bit of a problem when you have x-amount of people queueing for the one public toilet in the area. On the bright side, the banter while waiting in line turned out to be fun. When all the men turned to the bushes (on the East End Reserve, main beach and playground area no less!) one lady casually commented, “it is already full moon, a couple more won’t make a difference”.

Another beautiful day greeted us in the morning, with just a bit of a nip in the air. I decided there and then that we in Palmy most certainly have the most miserable weather in all of New Zealand. Quite sad actually, especially taking into account that Palmerston North had the least amount of sun last summer. So, excuse me for being a bit sad (or make that grumpy) from lack of vitamin D! 😀

The run follows the urban trails around town. We’ve covered most of them on training runs with friends before, but we did see a couple new areas. The first approximately 3km out-and-back stretch on the opposite sides of the Te Henui stream, makes up the loop for the 6km course. But after the first 3kms where the short course runners crossed a bridge to go back down, the longer course carries on to do another 3km loop higher up in the suburbs, twice. A decent hill reduced me to a walk, especially on the second lap. At the highest points on the course, we got lovely views of Mt Taranaki. When we finally hooked up with the second half of the 6km course on the way back, we got treated to another monster hill. But from there, the home stretch is mainly downhill back to the sea.

It took a fair bit longer to complete the course than I had hoped. But, on the bright side, my hip didn’t give any troubles. It might seem that the little bit of mobility and strength exercises are doing the trick. My hip does feel a lot less tight and sore, especially getting up from a sitting position.

There’s hope still.

Next up? Probably the Norsewood to Takapau half marathon on 9 July. A small, country event, which we’ve enjoyed doing in the past.


For a good course (and cause, of course)

For the past month or so, Gerry and I have been scouting trails and routes in the Tararuas for an Ultra event. Yep, we want to add another distance to the 25km North Range Traverse and 12.5km Hall Block Humdinger. A 50km Ultra, we thought, would nicely round off the offering.

It was suggested to us after last years event (thanks Michael), that we could maybe add South Range Road to North Range Road and some, to make an Ultra. We were very keen to get to the 50km mark and with South Range Road only about 14km long, and Sledge Track at about 3km from bottom to top, it meant we needed roughly 8-10km to get to 50. We tried from Scott’s Road side and from Kahuterawa, adding the Back Track etc, but nothing really added up to the right distance, or otherwise proved too difficult to access by bus, or too far to drive, to drop off participants.

But finally, we managed to solve the puzzle, and all the scouting these last few of months, from both sides of the mountain, finally paid off. Adding up the bits and pieces, I’m super stoked to announce that we’ve managed to find a fantastic 50km ultra course!

Starting at the Wairarapa side of the Tararuas (same side that the other courses start and finish), participants will be dropped off at the start of Naenae Road and make their way down the 2.85km gravel road to warm up and spread out the field a bit. After crossing a stream (about ankle to calf deep), the next 600m is mainly on farmland, which is very muddy and will no doubt be a mudfest in winter. Following the valley going up the mountain, the next 400m runs up the creek, zig-zagging through the water. It is a beautiful little gorge with numerous wee waterfalls, ferns and native forest. And then the big climb starts. For the next kilometre or so, you scramble up the new track (thanks to Ian Argyle!) that links the Wairarapa and Manawatu, until you reach the top of the mountain. This is a very technical, steep and difficult section. Not for the faint hearted, that’s for sure!

Once you reach the Otangane loop, you turn left to follow the loop track clockwise. This is an undulating stretch on top of the Tararuas with lovely views in all directions in the clearings. If you feel up to a couple of minutes detour, you could even make your way up Nipple Peak for a 360 degree view of the Manawatu and Wairarapa. After about 3km, you reach the connection track that takes you through to the Toe Toe loop track. Following the Toe Toe loop anti-clockwise for roughly 1.8km, you reach a side-track that takes you all the way to South Range Road. This marks the end of the most difficult and challenging section of the Ultra course. With the first few kilometres along Naenae Road on gravel road, and everything else from here also on gravel road, the terrain is for the most part very run-able, with the exception of the roughly 9km in the first quarter of the course.

Running on top of the Tararuas next to the water catchment area on South Range Road and then through the windfarm on North Range Road, makes for a beautifully scenic run. The stunning vistas and easy terrain underfoot for the last 39km, should add up to a very enjoyable Ultra.

Needless to say, adding an Ultra to our event offering is not something we take lightly. It will not be suitable to all abilities, mainly due to the very challenging section scurrying up the mountain. Being the middle of winter, could potentially also up the degree of difficulty a notch or two. But, we’ve found trail runners to be a staunch bunch and usually up for a challenge.

Currently we are thinking of having a drop-bag point at the first link up with South Range Road, where participants can change into dry shoes/socks/clothes for the remainder of the course. This will also double up as a aid station with portaloo.

Still a lot of detail to work out, but the course is set and that’s the main concern. It’s beautiful, totally do-able, a bit tough in sections, and maybe a bit exposed on the mountain, depending on the weather. A combination of trails and off-road. Should be a fun day out!

Doing a hip hop on a half*

*Thanks for the title Graeme!

Date: 14 January 2014
Distance: 21.1km
Time: 3:23

On all accounts, I should not have done this event. Apart from doing two half marathons, one in September and one in October, we haven’t been running for about five months, except for maybe the odd 3 or 4km slow trot-walk-run once every few weeks which is not even worth mentioning. And if there’s one thing I know, it’s that you don’t go running races unprepared. Mind you, I’ve never “run a race”. Rather, I participate in events – there’s a huge difference. Continue reading

A Buffanatic

It has to be said that I’m probably the biggest Buff fan ever since I first discovered these neck scarves. Was it 2003? Or maybe 2004? Just for those wondering where the name comes from, Buff is short for “bufunda” which means scarf in Spanish. It was developed around 1992 by Joan Rojas, a motorcyclist, who was looking for something to protect his neck from the wind and cold.

Will I ever forget the first five Buffs we bought. Five! Not one or two to try them out first. No, it had to be at least five. That probably consumed all our savings, but it just sounded (hadn’t even seen one in real life yet before ordering them) like the best invention since sliced bread. Continue reading

Tauhara Half Marathon

3 July 2016
Distance: 21.1km
Time: 2:48.56

After four days on the road travelling to Auckland, back down to Wellington and back to Palmy the night before the Tauhara, I was a little reluctant to get up at 4am to travel to Taupo for this event. It was just all becoming a little too much. But, we were entered, and events usually cheer me up, so despite no running (and a lot of sitting!) for four days, we took to the road once again to see what this event was all about. Continue reading

#2 T42

Date: 7 May 2016
Distance: 42.2km
Time: 5:27.32
Previous: 2011


Our second event in the challenge turned out much better than I expected – great weather, good physical condition, and manageable terrain. After a not-so-nice experience at Rotorua, I feared that things can only get worse. I was still tired from the Rotorua marathon, and on top of everything I’ve picked up a couple of niggles. Continue reading

The 5-in-5-in-5 Challenge

Many running books I’ve read talk about being passionate about running. How you can only be a dedicated, committed runner if you love running. And while I do love the idea of running and everything it represents, and without fail feel better after a run than before it, I must admit that I often have difficulty getting myself ready and out the door for a run. Once I’m out there, it’s great, but beforehand I often simply don’t feel up to it, and would much rather be doing something else. Continue reading