Kahuterawa Two Day Classic – 19 & 20 November 2011 (43.99km)

It’s official – I have well and truly run myself unfit. I guess that is what happens if you just pile on the kilometers, plodding away at the same pace without doing any quality sessions. And as we all know – when you go longer, you get slower.

When we ran the 7km section of this event last year, we promised ourselves to do the full event this year. But things don’t always work out as we plan, does it?

The Kahuterawa Two Day Classic, organised by the Manawatu Striders, is an on and off road marathon divided into three stages spread over two days: a 7km, 15.42km and a 21.57km. It remains a great way to complete the marathon distance without the rigors and damage done to your body when running a marathon in one go.

But for some reason, the weather has just been awful this year with wind and rain that just won’t ease up. We’re grateful for every drop of rain since our water tank had been completely empty earlier this year, but sleet and wind just don’t do it for me. The only things that spring to mind in such weather, are nibbles, wine and a book, snuggled up in front of a cozy fire.

It is not surprising then that when we woke up on Saturday morning to gusts of up to 80km/h, rocking our little house on its poles, coupled with sleet, that I couldn’t plug up the energy to drag my sorry arse out of bed. The first section of 7kms is run at eight in the morning, which at that point just seemed too early (which it is not! But if you’re not training for something specifically, your motivation and willpower seem to be way on the backburner). Since we have done this part in 2010, we decided to stay in bed and hope the weather would improve for the second leg starting at one in the afternoon.

My energy levels were sapped for no particular reason, and my motivation was at an all time low. I just could not imagine myself running … not even one kilometer. So Gerry came up with the brilliant plan that we could walk the Saturday afternoon event and run the half marathon on the Sunday morning.

No sooner said than done! The prospect of walking in the countryside at an organised event, getting water and support en route, lifted my spirits considerably. What is it with me and running these days?

The Striders’ events are all wonderful and I really didn’t want to miss the opportunity again to participate in this run. But walking nearly half if it, sounded grand. So with my bag of jelly babies, we lined up with about 20 other participants in the walking event which started half an hour earlier than the run. The wind was still howling, but for the moment at least, it wasn’t raining.

Alister explained the route, counted down and then we were off. It didn’t take very long before the pecking order was established between the speed walkers and the casual walkers. I guess we settled in somewhere in the middle. It took us 2:08.40 to walk the 15.42km, if that’s any indication.

The course winds through the farms of the Dam Block behind Massey in the foothills of the Tararua’s. Needless to say, the course counts as “hilly” in my book, although it is locally described as rolling. Parts of the road are on tar, others on gravel and a short section in the middle is on a footpath. It is a beautiful event in the quiet country.

At around halfway, we were shocked out of our blissful thoughts by a hail storm! Fortunately only tiny wee size ice pellets, but coupled with a bit of rain, enough to get us wet. The wind was still fairly strong, which cooled us off quite a bit and for the remainder of the couse it rained on and off. Shortly before we finished, it really came down and we were rather wet.

To top it all off, I was so sore by then that I could barely walk. Obviously my “speed” walking muscles were’t used to going at a 7.5km/h pace. I got so carried away when I realised that I might be the third lady, that I kept going as fast as I could. But alas, I was overtaken by a small lady making a great effort to pass some participants and managing to maintain her pace.

My only hope was for a miraculous recovery overnight. Yeah right!

Came Sunday morning, we rose early for the 8:00 start. Alister again explained the course while a faint rain and wind made me again contemplate my own sanity. Taking into account that I could barely move, let alone run, I wasn’t sure how I thought that I could possibly participate in a 21km event.

Before we passed the starting banner, I was at the back of the pack, and there I remained for the whole event. Because of all the rain of late, the approximately 7km loop on the Back Track, couldn’t be done. The footpath was damaged and potentially very dangerous. To make up the distance, some out-and-back sections were introduced down Greens Road and on Kahuterawa Road.

It was tempting to skip some of them and just take the shortest route home (which is exactly what some people did), but we hung in there and completed the full course. Albeit in 2:37.38! Not my best performance of late.

The weather really didn’t play along and I’m sure more people might have turned up if it was a sunny, wind-free day. As usual the event was absolutely wonderful – I sure do hope that the Striders would not cancel it due to lack of support. They put in a lot of effort and it might not seem worthwhile when there’s so little interest. Although, this year saw a record field of 129 participants across all the events. Maybe it is just a case of me being so used to 1000+ participants at every run in SA, that any event smaller than 500 people makes me worry that it might be cancelled (as often happened with SA races).

Glad to have “done” the event, I did feel a bit sorry that my fitness levels weren’t up to standard. We went home for a quick shower and dry clothes before returning for the prize-giving and wonderful lunch (with dessert!) at the Dransfield’s farm.

This is definitely one of those events that must go on one’s “to-do” list every year. A great outing, very well organised in wonderful surroundings. Thanks to the Manawatu Striders for making the effort. More information and results can be found on their website.

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