Date: 23 November 2014
Start of the 20.8km walkers.
Shortly before the start of the 20.8km run.
The field of runners rounding the Ashhurst Domain oval.
Was this section meant for the guys and girls wanting to do a full half marathon?
The fairly new path next to the Manawatu River from Ashhurst.
Could only catch up with fellow Strider, Sheryl, around the 3km mark.
The Higgins Depot.
Easy going on the gravel roads around Higgins.
Some beautiful, tranquil sections.
Rounding the corner shortly before reaching the main buildings of the Higgins Depot.
Exiting Higgins land, we reached the second water station just before turning left onto Te Matai Road.
Just past halfway, counting down to the finish.
A nice bit of downhill on the otherwise very flat course on our way to the Bridle Track.
Grateful to have helpers who are willing to sacrifice their Sunday morning to support runners and walkers.
Back in known territory, running along the Palmy Bridle Track.
The section of the Bridle Track next to the river with Elderflowers in full bloom.
The Gas Works Drain bridge. Not the most romantic name, but a scenic little feature on the route nonetheless.
Some sections next to the river can be quite exposed in bad weather, but luckily we had no such problems on a near-perfect morning.
Evidence of the blustery winds of the past few weeks.
Just the short bit through the Esplanade gardens …
… before we reached the finish.
Club President, Kevin, welcoming participants back at the club house, with some of the organising team in the back.
The weather in the weeks leading up to the A2E was, in a word, atrocious. Terrible winds, hail storms and even a mini tornado lashed the country and my hopes for a peaceful fun run in the sun was in the balance. But miracles do happen and on the morning of the event, the most perfect day greeted us. I could hardly believe my luck. The last thing I wanted was another long run fighting gusty winds and/or rain, but thankfully Huey was good to us.
The Manawatu Striders are known for staging great events and this one was no different. Being an inaugural could potentially spell a couple of glitches, but true to their organisation skills everything ran smoothly. At least in our experience as participants in the 20.8km run event.
Date: 15 November 2014
The friendly helpers at one of the water points (at about 19 to go?) offered to take our pic.
Mist and blustery wind at the Miridian Energy wind farm.
Runners huddled up behind the bus.
Dave Franks explaining the route change.
A goat (?) skeleton in the deserted part of the country.
The new start in the road leading to Oteranga Bay.
Within the first kilometre we were in our usual position as the tail-end Charlies.
The start of the Mid Monty at Oteranga Bay.
Intense concentration to fight the gale force winds.
Tough going on the rocky terrain.
Gerry finding his way back to the “road” after being blown towards the sea.
With the strong tail wind we only needed to lift our feet and automatically be propelled forward.
Luckily the rain stayed away and the day turned out not as cold as anticipated.
Lots of time spent running in loose sand.
Rather technical terrain, especially with the wind shoving you along.
A few stream crossings. We could mostly get across dry-footed.
Friendly helpers at the most exposed water station offering bananas, Gu Brew, water and Coke.
A lighthouse out at sea.
More challenging terrain.
I was very grateful for the more solid surface of the 4×4 track underfoot.
There’s no use trying to run all the sandy parts.
And more sand.
Our scenery included distant views of snow capped mountains on the South Island.
Very tough terrain to try and run, especially for a slow-poke like myself.
Beautiful flowers lining the path to the next water point.
This water point had the privilege of a sheltered shed.
Making our way round the southern most tip of the North Island.
The sun came through turning the otherwise chilly and windy run into a warm affair.
Run bits, walk bits, you’ll get there.
How do you run this terrain?
Back in a residential area, but being a coastal challenge, we stuck to the beach rather than running along the easier sidewalk.
Some rock hopping.
With the various distance options, we encountered quite a few other participants along the way.
Nice scenery along the coast.
A detour on the sidewalk.
Looking back at the coast line we came along.
The finish at Queens Drive, about 500 metres short of Lyall Bay.
The Auckland North Shore Coastal Challenge has been a popular event on the Total Sport calendar for the past 13 years. Given its continued success, they decided to extend the event to a series (the Coastal Challenge Series), comprising the existing North Shore event as well as 2 new ones in Wellington and Tawharanui, respectively. Numerous distance options were available – the Full Monty (32km), Mid Monty (25km), Mini Monty (19km), Bay Scrambler (13km) and Beach Hopper (7km).
So this was yet another inaugural event for us, which is always exciting, but does mean that not a lot of info was available beforehand about the event. Total Sport described the series as a “run, walk, wade, scramble and rock-hop”, so we knew we were in for something special.
Date: 8 November 2014
Race briefing in a friendly farmer’s paddock.
And a few more seconds, aaaaand …
… we’re off!
Shortly after we turned onto the trails, we were treated to this stunning view over the Waikato.
The sun only just out, but already quite warm. For the most part plantations and indigenous forests sheltered us from the worst sting of the sun.
Gerry speeding around the switchbacks on an early steep downhill.
Happy for the downhill stretch.
Gerry, myself and Paul (pictured left) where the tail-end Charles’ at this point, with the sun at our backs.
Dodging MTBs on narrow trails.
“Only” 55km to go.
Gerry having crossed the first and largest swing bridge.
An open section where large sections of plantation have been cleared.
Slowly but surely we chipped away at the kms.
A wonderful, wide, easy, forest road where MTBs could pass with ease.
Gerry going strong.
Down a steep gorge with some spectacular scenery.
Crossing the Waipapa Dam wall.
Approaching our first water station – a welcome sight after about 18km.
This was also the start of the 42.2km event.
Having a runny nose due to the cold air, and continuously having to blow my nose, feels like a waste of breath.
One third down, I was wondering how I would ever make it to 60km.
Large native ferns to shelter us from the sun.
Another steep downhill. As a fellow runner noted, steep descents really are a waste of a good downhill – you lose all your elevation without the privilege of a long, easy descent.
Another milestone. By this point I was pretty stuffed, and remained that way to the end.
Enjoying the perfect weather and the good conditions underfoot.
Hey, hey, halfway, yay!
Strangely enough we had more interaction with other participants, than what we had on most other road races.
More friendly support at the waterpoint at about 32km.
Slow down, Gerry! We’re in an urban area. Entering the historic riverside town of Mangakino.
Big was my surprise to find the 21.1km to go marker, as the 20km to go sign was about 3kms down the track! Speaking of mind games, this one really got to me.
Crossing a wetland area.
Running with constant views of Lake Maraetai to our left.
Another crossing on a swing bridge.
The flatter terrain of the last 20km helped to keep us going at a reasonable pace.
Crossing the river at the Maiterea Power Station.
I just had to have a sit down at this water point, while drinking my GU Brew.
Running next to Lake Whakamaru.
Come on dear, we don’t have all day.
This bunch was such a happy sight at about 4kms to go. Free hugs and jelly sweets were handed out.
The last section had lots of tree roots to trip over – a real challenge when you can no longer lift your feet.
Crossing the narrow road leading to the island in the lake and Whakamaru Christian Camp, finishing site of the race.
Gerry and I all smiles, happy to have survived The Taniwha.
With a beer in hand the pain is almost already forgotten.
Here’s a funny story. On our way to the start of the run, our 65 seater bus suddenly pulled over and a girl and guy jumped up and urgently stepped out of the bus. Everybody was like, huh?, but as they made a beeline to the nearest bush, laughter set in at the familiar sight. A girl has to go when a girl has to go. It turned out her husband had a chat with the bus driver a few minutes earlier asking him to make a pitstop and the driver kindly obliged.
The Taniwha (meaning protector or guardian of the river) is organised by Auckland based sporting events management company Total Sport and a host of distances are available to walkers, runners and cyclists alike. For the cyclists there’s 83, 60, 42.2 and 22km events with the 83km also available as a team relay. The runners have 60, 42.2, 21.1, 14 and 7km options with the 60km also as a team relay option. Walkers had the choice between 21.1, 14 and 7km routes. Route markings were excellent – there’s no getting lost, and the water stations were well stocked with water and GU Brew. The drink station at about 37km also offered Coke, bananas, pretzels and sweet biscuits. Continue reading
The start and finish of the event.
Gerry at the start with 20 other participants.
A few announcements before we were off.
The Surf Club disappearing in the back with two runners behind me.
Blue bottles in abundance.
Loved the informal water points operated off the back of people’s ute’s.
Overcast and a bit of wind, but quite pleasant.
Gerry donned his Manawatu Striders shirt, but we spotted no other club members around.
The perfectly straight, perfectly flat beach between Foxton and Himatangi.
Seven done, 13 to go.
The second water point.
Front runners on their way back.
A baby seal came to greet us.
The turn around point at 10km.
Gerry providing some entertainment along the way.
Footprints in the Sand. Apt name for the event.
The wide flat beach makes for some lovely reflections.
Third water point.
The end is near.
Prize-giving at the Foxton Beach Surf Club.
I guess if you battle with motivation to do long runs on your own, it’s always a good idea to join some other runners for an event somewhere. Even it there’s only 21 other participants.
The Foxton Beach run is organised by the local Lions Club in Foxton, a small town on the west coast of the North Island not far from where we stay. We stumbled upon the event earlier this year and decided to participate when the time comes. Then we overheard other runners saying that they weren’t sure whether it was still on and thought the race might be cancelled. But luckily I saw it listed in the Runner’s World so we reckoned it must be on. Continue reading
At the start on a cold, windy, misty morning, Johann, Nettie, myself and Gerry.
Gerry and I. [Photo: J&N]
Reassuring to see the green light, but still a scary thought of crossing active volcanos.
View towards the west with Mangatepopo Hut just visible on the right.
The last toilet stop before heading up the mountain. No wonder it looks like a busy morning at the farmers market.
The scary sign before the big climb begins. It’s amazing how many holiday-goers still take on the mountain in jandals, t-shirts and jeans despite the warnings.
Everything is quickly frozen in the wind. Luckily we had a tail wind going up.
Still some patches of snow, just to remind you that it’s not summer yet on the mountain.
Grass icicles. [Photo: J&N]
We discovered a nice little bench (made from old sign poles) behind a rock sheltered from the worst wind. Was too cold to stay long.
An old wooden sign-post halfway up the mountain adding atmosphere to the walk.
It’s hard to imagine an icy 65km/h wind when you’re sitting in front of your computer. 🙂
Nettie and I having a bit of fun at the Red Crater saddle.
Ice, wind and mist combining to create an unforgettable experience.
Very very cold wind up there.
En route down Red Crater on the northern side.
Mist starting to clear a little to give us a lovely view of Emerald Lakes. [Photo: J&N]
Time for tea and a biscuit.
Next to Emerald Lakes.
With the mist clearing, we were treated to some wonderful scenery.
A view of Red Crater with the path we came down with visible on the right. [Photo: J&N]
Time for some fun in the snow.
Gerry at Blue Lake.
Looks like a beach made of snow.
Majestic mountain scenery. [Photo: J&N]
Quick lunch break, huddling between some rocks for shelter.
We only had little bits of slushy muddy snow on the track.
Te Maari crater that popped twice in 2012, causing a track closure, is stil fuming.
The last few kilometres through indigenous forest.
The finish at Ketetahi carpark on the northern end of the track, is a couple of hundred metres lower than the start.
These volcano warning signs feel a little surreal, but they’re really quite scary.
Happy to have had the opportunity to make the trip.
“New Zealand’s oldest national park and a dual World Heritage Site. The Tongariro National Park is rich in both cultural identity and dramatic, awe-inspiring natural scenery. Unique landforms, including the volcanic peaks of Ngauruhoe, Tongariro and Ruapehu ensure the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is considered a world-renowned trek.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is heralded as the best one-day trek available in New Zealand, while others say it ranks among the top ten single-day treks in the world.
Many who complete the 19.4-kilometre journey will tell you the climbs can be steep and the weather unpredictable, though worth it in every aspect.” [http://www.tongarirocrossing.org.nz]
Since relocating to NZ a few years ago, we’ve wanted to do the full crossing. But every time something else comes up. Or the weather turns nasty. Or the mountain pops, causing a track closure for about nine months. You know how it goes. This time we had our hearts set on Labour Weekend when we could be joined by Johann and Nettie. Continue reading