The Rugby World Cup is in full swing, and it is great to see all the supporters’ flags and messages on houses, in paddocks and on cars. Everywhere you look there’s support for people’s favorite teams which in NZ is, of course, the All Blacks.
All the way, as we drove to New Plymouth on Saturday, evidence of the country’s commitment to the RWC is visible as the world cup fever casts its spell on everybody. There’s no escaping the mania that plays off all around us – tonnes and tonnes of little flags representing all the different countries are hanging from every shop and restaurant, while loads of cars are driving around with All Black flags stuck in their doors. The occasional Irish, England or South African flag can also be spotted, but the black flags are hard to miss. An article was even published, giving stats about the amount of extra petrol your car will be using with the drag of each flag sticking out from your window.
Having attended the Taranaki Daily News half marathon as spectators in 2010, we committed there and then that we will be running the half this year. If I’m not mistaken, we were still joking about the fact that we should do this event, since everybody received medals – a rare commodity in the NZ running scene. We haven’t had the honors yet. And guess what? No medals this year!
New Plymouth is known to get it’s share of rainfall. No surprise then when it rained on and off during the night prior to the event. We woke up at around half past six to have breakfast, get ready and head off to the TSB Stadium/Pukekura Raceway where the run starts and finishes. A light drizzle is all it takes for me to grab my rain jacket. Not the nicest thing to run in, since it quickly becomes soaking wet and steaming hot from the inside. To it’s defense, it does help against cold winds no matter how wet you are, inside or out.
We lined up with Henriette, Marianne and Des who all decided to do this wonderful event that is in their backyards, shortly before eight. It is something of an institution with Marianne who has been living in New Plymouth for the past 17 years.
The showers in the first couple of kilometres made sure that we had a nice wet start. Fortunately it was downhill towards the city centre and after a short section in town, we reached the first uphill. The course is rated as hilly making it a tough outing – not one to attempt a PB! As is customary with the NP events, lots of supporters are en route again with kids cheering-on their moms etc. As the last suburbs fade away, we head into the country towards the mountain – Mt Taranaki which is known to be on the shy side … always hiding in a cloud.
The farm roads are fairly quiet, making for a very pleasant run. The first half is hilly, whereafter an undulating section follows. Just as you think you are done with hills for the day, a short little surprise uphill appears at about the 20km mark. From there on it is flat to the finish.
Most of the rain cleared up after about 2kms and the following hour and 45 minutes were sort of dry. Shortly before we finished (in 2:09) it started raining again. Being wet and very cold, we took shelter on the pavilion as we watched runners and walkers finish, waiting for our mates to arrive at the finish line. Deon was our lift to and from the event – thanks Deon! Henriette’s excellent carbo-loading meal the previous night did wonders. 2:08:56 is (aside from the Hatuma half) my fastest time in quite a while.
We were also treated by Deon and Henriette to lovely post-run home cooked hamburgers and bubbly! It worked wonders for sore, hungry bodies that are sick of jelly-babies and water.
We went back for the prize-giving where Gerry got a lucky draw prize of 5 months subscription to the Runner’s World magazine! A wonderful prize – I always enjoy reading the stories and articles for inspiration and motivation, which I may add, repeats over and over each year just dressed up in different clothes. 🙂 But, repetition is good for your training, isn’t it?