Round the Vines – half marathon

When first we stumbled upon this event, to be staged in the lovely town of Martinborough, we just knew it is a must do. We need to include long runs on weekends as training for the Rotorua marathon anyway, and what better way to do it than in events with lots if other runners. It’s much easier when you know you are not alone out there covering 20+km by yourself.

During the week leading up to the event, the news and weather reports turned increasingly more ominous. Cyclone Lusi was making her way through the Tasman and was bound to play havoc by the weekend on the east coast and surrounding areas. Actually just about the whole of NZ had severe weather watches and warnings. People were advised to stay off the roads, tie down trampolines and other outdoor furniture and just sit it out.

As luck would have it, Gerry had work (plus we had concert tickets for the Yo La Tengo show) in Wellington on the Saturday, and we were hoping for the best as we drove down in windy, gusty conditions on Saturday afternoon. Not an ideal situation, but what can you do. The weather was bad, albeit not so extreme that we felt we should call everything off.

All day long we kept an eye on FB for updates from the Round the Vines organisers, incase they decided to cancel the event. We stayed over at Johann and Nettie’s for the night, who were going to join us for the race on Sunday. They treated us to lovely tea before heading off to the show. Arriving back shortly before midnight, we tried to get some sleep for a early start on Sunday. Our heads were still buzzing from old Ira’s extremely loud and hectic freak-out sessions, while we couldn’t believe how hot the night turned out to be, making sleeping a bit challenging. An average wind with only a few spits of rain during the evening and the rest of the night, kept us wondering about the day to come and whether Lusi would spoil the event.

The other concern was having to cross the infamous Rimutakas to get to Martinborough from Wellington, which could be closed in extreme weather conditions, meaning that we wouldn’t be able to get to the race. But when we woke up on Sunday morning, the weather was perfectly fine, a good day in Wellington. We left for Martinborough and got to the start early and very relieved that the weather was near perfect! Just a few patches of cloud and a light breeze to cool you down.

The half marathon started 15 minutes earlier than the 10km, and the walking events for both the half and 10 also had their own starting times. The half is a double-lapper of the 10km course with an extra bit added to make up for the 1.1km needed for the 21.1km. We started off on a nice trot, maybe a bit faster than what I planned, but we were going okey, so I tried to stick to our pace. Neither of us have a watch and therefor had no idea really – other than gut feeling – of the speed we were going.

Extreme humid conditions made for a very hot run, especially on the first lap. The few clouds gave way to a hot sun with only light wind. Luckily the Round the Vines have six heavenly water stations, stocked with watermelon, grapes, chewy sweets, water and of course wine! Gerry was brave enough to sample everything and had a good wine tasting as we went. As our old friend Jaco used to say; “it is rude not to have everything that is offered to you on an event”. 🙂 Not so brave me stuck to water and my own jelly babies. Rude!

This has got to rate as one of the most scenic and joyous running and walking events out there. The whole course is around and through vineyards and vines in and around the town, with a short stretch through the school grounds as reminder of where your entry fee is going. Some stretches are on sealed roads and others on grass and gravel roads on the wine farms. Every water/wine point also had a band playing and since there are so many refreshment stops, you just about have music all the way. Live music! That’s just plain awesome.

Participants were also encouraged to dress up with great prizes going towards the best dressed teams, and some pretty elaborate ones that obviously took some time and effort to prepare, added to the entertainment for the day. Some of the volunteers and helpers at the water tables also dressed up, making everything a very jolly affair.

We ran the first lap of 11.1km in 1:04 (give or take) and slowed down a fair bit for the second one to finish in around 2:10. The only indication of time we had, was from the watch on the camera recording the date and time the pics were taken. I thought the second round would be much slower as I also took a couple longer walk breaks at the water tables, but all in all our time is not too bad at this point in our training. I would love to get back to a 6min/km pace or faster, though.

Johann and Nettie also had a great run on the 10km course, sampling everything on offer and having a good time all round. We stayed for the prize-giving afterwards with some wonderful spot prizes up for grabs, had a sausage sizzle and donned dry clothes before heading back home.

I can only say that this is a MUST DO on the calendar. Even if you aren’t fit at all, just go along on the 10km walk and enjoy the scenery, wine tastings and live music. In fact, this might be the better way to do it afterall! And it’s all for a good cause with proceeds going to the local school.

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