Kapiti Classic Beach Races (21.1km) – 13 March 2011

For lack of another word, I can only say that this race is awesome! What a gem. NZ is full of these very nice off-the-beaten-track small town races and the Kapiti Classic, a newby on the calendar, is no exception. Another inaugural for us.

We left Palmy at 7:00 for the drive down to Paraparaumu where the different races were to start: 21.1km, 10km, 5km and a 1km dash for the kids. All the events can be walked or run. The starting times for the different races were staggered so we had company all the way.

We arrived an hour early at Maclean Park – race headquarters – and my best attempts to have a quick nap amounted to nothing. And then the funniest thing happened – on hindsight, that is. Walking to the toilets, half asleep in my case, I spotted a cubicle opening right in front of me and walked straight in. Gerry headed for the one next door. But when I stepped out, there he was … standing in a queue! Where did that come from?!? It took me a second or two to realize that I’d jumped the queue completely, and a long line of clearly agitated males were staring at me, not even trying to hide their “stupid women!” thoughts. At least one guy saw the humor in the situation. And, thinking about it, I may have helped a few others to a half-marathon PB, running on pure adrenaline! 😉

With just a cool breeze blowing, we made our way to the start on the beach with some 30 odd other runners on the 21.1km course. With so few participants it is almost possible for everybody to start right in the front – in one long line next to each other! Race briefing was short and sweet (being an out and back event, one of the organiser’s comments was “Be careful not to run into other athletes coming the opposite direction!”) and then we were off.

We were warned about a couple of river-crossing, so “you will get wet”, and while this could have phased me, running 42km in pouring rain a week ago, somehow made this sound like nothing. The water was shallow, but still deep enough to get your feet/shoes thoroughly soaked.

Getting wet is still something to get used to. We were completely spoilt (?) in SA with the country generally tending more towards the dry side. Rain was a bit of a novelty for us, and you could almost always avoid getting wet. Not in NZ though.

The first 2.5km is run in a northern direction towards Waikenae beach, before you reach the first turn around point. Heading back, you run past the start/finish point, which is at the 5km mark and also the first of two water points. The course carries on straight, passing the 1km dash for kids, the 2.5km turnaround point for the 5km event, and the 5km turn around point for the 10km event. This is also the second water point, which you pass again on your way back. Three kilometers further you reach the turnaround for the 21.1km event, and from there it is only 8km back to the start/finish. A nice little loop in both directions on the beach from the start/finish area.

As you run the bigger loop in a southern direction (after the shorter 2.5km northerly loop), you also pass Raumati beach, with the turning point for the 21.1km event being at Paekakariki beach, the next-door neighbouring town.

Kapiti island lies a short distance out to see, and with the perfect weather, lots of fisherman, boats, kayaks and people cooling down in the sea, were also around, contributing to make this a very social event.

Between 12km en 13km the sound of your feet on the sand suddenly turns into the crackle of clam shells under your feet as you run through a very shelly section, while the cool breeze picked up a little to face you head on on your way back.

The races are scheduled to take place during low tide and, being run right on the beach, the course is as flat as you can possibly get, which actually makes it a bit more difficult, me thinks. No “freeing” on downhills! And the softish sand on some sections may also have added a bit to the effort. As it turns out, I had a nice little swollen and sore middle toe on my left foot the day after the event, possibly due to some monkey business, making a funny move somewhere on the course …

Between 4km and 11km we were dead last, but we managed to overtake two or three people to finish in 2:19. There were no prize-giving as such, but when you hand in your race number, you stand a chance to win a spot prize. And low and behold – Gerry won a prize! Lucky devil. A night for two at the Quality Hotel in Cuba Street in Wellington. Can’t wait! Thanks to the organisers and sponsors for yet another great event. We’ll be back next year!

To top it off, we had a lovely pizza on the beach at Waikenae, before heading back home.

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