Three Bridges Marathon

Date: 13 December 2014
Venue: Wanganui
Time: 4:52

I always find it amusing how people with the same goals in mind, tend to gravitate towards each other. Years ago, 2008, Gerry and I entered for the Cape Odyssey event as a team. It was a 5 day staged race over roughly 220km for teams of two people. (The event unfortunately had a short lifespan of only two years before it was cancelled.)

During our built up for this mammoth task, we entered a lot of other events of various distances all over the country. It’s always infinitely easier to cover long distances when you know there are other runners and everybody is going through the same effort and sometimes pain, plus you get support in the form of aid stations. The company on the road and getting to meet and chat to likeminded folk, sharing experiences and swopping tips and tricks, makes it all the more worthwhile. We’ve met so many wonderful people who became great friends afterwards.

Similarly, having entered for the Tarawera in February, we increasingly run into others who have also entered and who also use events as training runs. But we are in the minority… This could be a gross generalisation and I could be hugely mistaken, but it seems to me that in NZ there’s the overall opinion that if you’re not fast, you might as well not do races. For instance, if you can’t run a marathon under four hours, why bother? Just as a case in point – the average finish time for the Wellington marathon was under four hours. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with being competitive and doing your best, but there’s also absolutely nothing wrong with someone who is a slow runner, not as competitive and who does events for fun and socialising. To me, anybody who does anything is still far better off than someone who does nothing. Even if it takes you ten hours to complete a marathon, you are still a winner in my books.

Johann and Nettie joined us for the Three Bridges: Johann completing his second marathon, which he wanted to use as his qualifier for the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon next year in South Africa, and Nettie completing her fourth half marathon. Although the weather leading up to the event was horrendous again, the day of the run could not have been more perfect. Probably a bit hot for the kiwi’s, but this camel has yet to find a race that’s too hot. 😉

We decided to take it easy, so started off slowly and just trotted along. We have done the 10.5km event previously, so we knew more or less what the course was like. What remained a mystery was how ones mind would handle four laps of the same course. Yep, the Three Bridges is a lapper: your could choose between doing only one lap, two laps for the Half Marathon, three laps, or four laps for the Marathon. Distance really is a mind game more than anything else. As Nettie pointed out, doing the half marathon at this event, you have a starting lap and a finishing lap. Both laps had a clear purpose. But we still had two in the middle that were neither the excitement of the starting lap, nor the pleasure of the finishing lap. What to do with them?

Three quarters through the first lap, we were four people running more or less together. Gerry spotted a hydration vest that he’s been looking into buying for our longer solo runs and the Tarawera, worn by the one guy (Dennis Hunt) and started chatting to him. As it turned out, both him and the other guy in our small group of four runners at that point, have also entered for the Tarawera. We ran together for a few kilometres, chatting away, sharing stories and advice, while the second lap ticked over nearly unnoticed.

Admittedly, piling on the kilometres like we have of late, takes its toll and from early on in the third lap my legs were really aching and I felt quite tired. The interesting thing though, was that although my legs were rather sore they didn’t deteriorate much further and remained at the same level of pain to the end of the run. Guess I can be positive and call that progress! We had a few more laughs and chats with other runners along the way, and caught up with Johann again at about the 30km mark. The three of us just trotted along, running bits, walking bits, for the last lap to finish in 4:52.

Three aid stations along the route, stocked with water and energy drinks, kept us hydrated. A really nice and social event, even though quite small. It was great to run into some of the guys and girls again that we met at the Flying Pink, and to see so many of our fellow Manawatu Striders club mates. Unfortunately a tentative and somewhat haphazard prize-giving resulted in a rather long day out for us, but all in all a great outing.

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