When Gerry signed up for this event about two month ago, I could barely cover the 5km loop we’ve been using as training for about three weeks. Worst is, it’s mainly downhill! I certainly didn’t expect to run 21km two months later. But we kept at it, did our little training run almost every day and even started to add “long runs” on weekends to get us used to a bit more distance than 5km.
We had to make a trip to the South Island for work, and thought it a good idea to add a run (and a walk) in the mix. With all the work obligations done and dusted after the first week, we drove the scenic route via Lewis Pass from Christchurch to Nelson the day before the run. Little did we know when we booked accommodation, that the event is taking place about 50min drive in the opposite direction from where we chose to stay. But, the campsite is a lovely low-cost affair in beautiful surroundings – in a valley next to a river with huge old trees.
Mahana, a short drive outside Nelson, is home to the Woollaston wine estate which hosted the start and finish of the race. The 5km (and kids Mahana mile) run through the vineyard, but the half marathon and 10km events were mainly on roads. As they cater for various fitness levels with various distances, it is an ideal family outing and one of the bigger events we’ve participated in so far in kiwiland. Pace setters are provided, courtecy of a local gym, for finish times of 1:30, 1:45, 2:00 and 2:15. I nearly offered to do the 2:30, but since it was our first half marathon in two years (!), I wasn’t sure if I was even going to make it to the end.
On the morning of the race, we left early as parking is fairly limited at the start. Cars are directed further down the roads, adding a few hundred metres walking to and from the start of the event. At registration we were handed a timing chip for official race results. Neither of us has a watch, so we sort of played it by ear en route, running as we felt and not by time.
The 21.1km course is a 10km double lapper – you share the road with the 10km runners who started a few minutes later than us. On the first round, an extra out and back stretch is added to make up for the 1.1km needed to complete the distance. The start is a nice little downhill section after which the course can basically be described as undulating and meanders through farms and lifestyle sections. Apart from a few Mo’s for the Mohana Movember competition, we also saw someone dressed as a clown, girls in tutus, reindeer antlers and some other entertaining costumes along the way.
The event had lots of entertainment at the finish area where picnics were held, a band was playing and some nice spot prices up for grabs at the prize giving. We unfortunately had to leave before the prize giving for the drive up to Picton where we still had to shop and pack for the Queen Charlotte tramp the day after.
Surprisingly we finished in a time of 2:16.25 which was better than what I bargained for. I was also very chuffed with the bottle of wine provided to all finishers by Woollaston Estates. Cheers!