After our “long-run” the previous day (about 10km) we decided to partake in the inaugural Windrush event of approximately 6km the next day as a “shakedown” (a term used by friends for the recovery run the day-after a hard session). Not that we are even close to double-sessions, cool-down/recovery runs or any other such technical things. But it sounded fancy, so there you have it :-).
This new event on the calendar comprises of a 2.7km run, walk or ride, as well as a tougher 6km run, walk or ride on the rolling hills of the Ruahines. The biggest draw card is probably that the public were allowed to roam in the Te Apiti windfarm, to which access is normally restricted. Thanks Meridian Energy!
As someone who has always been keen to play in the windfarm, instead of just visiting the viewpoint over and over – this was an opportunity to grab with both hands. And it’s free! Plus on top of everything, we also got to see the winners of the 5 day International NZ Mens Classic Cycle Tour afterwards. The Windrush was staged to coincide with the final stage of the cycling event, so while the riders were fighting it out in the last few kilometres, we got to run around the turbines.
The event started at midday and we arrived around 11am as we weren’t sure how many people would take advantage of this rare opportunity, to find only a few other cars and participants. Maybe it wasn’t advertised widely enough, but I can say whole-heartedly that if you were in the area and weren’t there, you missed out on something special. Even if just to stroll around on the farm, taking pictures and enjoying a day in the Ruahine ranges with stunning views over both the Manawatu and Wairarapa. As aptly described by Ross Castle (on the Windrush Windfarm Adventure FB page): you get to see “A view of the Gorge that has been locked away from public for over 100 years…. you get your chance to stand for the first time, in awe and gaze over the stunning Manawatu Gorge. This opportunity will happen just once a year and that’s next weekend Sunday 2 Feb 12pm.”
This could easily turn into a very special annual event in the Manawatu, with even longer options for runners, walkers and MTBs alike. I’m sure the MTB guys would have loved to go a bit further and I wouldn’t mind a longer run either.
The course is fairly tough – very hilly, reducing even the toughest amongst the tough guys and gals to walk up some of the hills. Some of the downhills are even too steep to walk! But the views make up for it, with a perfect day to boot. Just a slight cool breeze to cool you down in the blazing sun. The course took us about 38min to finish (which means it was probably a little shorter than 6km – with me being a slow-poke and all).
We were all of 13 participants in the run/walk long course and 12 on MTBs. The shorter course saw a few more participants, but all in all a very small field. We wouldn’t have found out about the event if it weren’t for a Manawatu Striders email circular to club members. I’m sure there would have been a lot more people if it was communicated to a wider audience, maybe?
A big thanks to Team Ashhurst Sports Cycling for organising such a wonderful event. We will most certainly be back next year!