Date: 7 February 2015
All photos by us, except the ones containing the TUM logo which are courtesy of Photos4sale and TUM.
Happy to reach the finish. But leading up to this was a long journey …
Gerry at Te Puia, waiting for the opening ceremony.
Entering the Te Aronui a Rua Marae.
Nervous smiles before the big day ahead.
Wandering around Te Puia thermal world. The Pohutu Geyser putting up a show worthy of an international audience.
Malcalm Law, keynote speaker ahead of his High-5-O challenge. Very inspirational. (BTW, you can still text to contribute or make a donation.)
Q&A session with elite athletes from around the world. Seated LtoR: Pau Bartolo Roca, Dylan Bowman (2015 male winner), Jo Johansen, Nuria Picas-Albets, Mike Wardian, Robbie Britton and Ruby Muir (2015 female winner).
Nice touch – a stand at the expo where supporters can create signage to encourage their runners.
Daunting to see these registration tables and you know you have to go to the one with the longest distance.
All the entrants’ names were printed on a huge banner that featured outside the hotel.
I don’t think what lay ahead had sunk in at this stage yet.
Only a couple more minutes before the start. Can you feel the tension?
And away we go.
Only about 99.95km to go.
A few steps early on in the Redwood Forest on well maintained trails.
Beautiful scenery. Living here we sometimes lose sight of the lovely natural surroundings.
Long train of runners snaking through the forest.
Gerry clearly in high spirits.
Wonderful to run into a familiar face, June also from the Manawatu Striders.
A fantastic spread at the aid stations, fit for a king.
Running around Blue Lake. Little did we know when we first walked this trail in 2008 during a visit to NZ that we’d one day run this as part of a 100km ultra!
Happy days on the shores of Blue Lake.
“I can’t do this alone, oh oh oh oh o-ho…”
The variety of refreshments on offer made it difficult to choose, resulting in us perhaps spending a bit too much time at the early aid stations.
Sharing a laugh with the aid station crew.
No lack of fun and entertainment en route!
Aid station activities – eating, sorting out drop bags, filling water containers, checking gear.
Much of the day was run in the shaded forest, ensuring mild temperatures perfect for running.
Yet at the same time us Africans enjoyed the stretches in the sun, offering wider views of the rolling landscape.
Beautiful tree ferns lining the track.
Time for an aid station selfie! My cheeks bulging from sampling the spread on offer.
Slight change of scenery on the shores of Lake Okataina.
The heavy winds of the days leading up to the race left some challenging obstacles on the route.
More obstacles to slide over…
…or slip under.
Past the Tarawera Falls aid station (and 60km finish) the environment changed, with a greater percentage of the route run (or walked!) on forestry roads.
Made it! Having passed the final cut-off at the 70km Titoki aid station, we knew we just had to hang in there for another 30km to finish.
Not too impressed with the “arse-bitingly steep” hills on the loop of despair around the 80km mark.
Close to sunset, with just over 15km to go.
Over the final 5+ kms, many sections of the route were lit up with colourful fairy lights, turning our late night run into a forest fairytale. This picture doesn’t do it justice at all, but it was a really special experience.
Finally reaching the finish after almost 17.5 hours. Tired. but relieved and elated.
Such a special feeling, being able to experience these events together. I don’t know how lonely those hours in the dark must have been to solo runners.
A hug from organiser Tim Day, making each finisher feel special for having made it to the finish.
Receiving our lovely wood-cut Tarawera medals.
A special moment at the end of a very long day.
“Ju-ust the two of us, we can make it if we try…”
Turns out writing about a 100km event is just as hard as doing it. What can you say that hasn’t already been said before? Instead of repeating what you can read about the race on the comprehensive official website, I thought perhaps I should just give a broad overview of my experience of the race weekend.
We drove through to Rotorua (the venue for the race) on the Thursday, two days prior to race day, figuring it might be a good idea before taking on our first 100km run to arrive well in time and settle down before the event. The official opening was quite early on the Friday morning, so even more reason to arrive the day before. After the official race welcome (Powhiri) at Te Aronui a Rua Marae, Te Puia, things moved to the Holiday Inn where registration, the expo, talks, presentations and all the rest took place. It was a jolly occasion, with lots of athletes and their support crews pitching up for the pre-race activities. There was even a rogaine on the Thursday that drew quite a number of participants.
One of the highlights of the proceedings during Friday morning was the keynote talk by Malcolm Law. He really is an extraordinary person, being the first to do the seven Great Walks in NZ in seven days to raise money for leukaemia and blood cancer. This time around he is pushing his limits even further by attempting to scale 50 peaks, and in the process run a total of 50 marathons, in 50 consecutive days, of which the Tarawera Ultra marked the start. Through his extraordinary High-5-O Challenge Malcolm aims to raise $400 000 for Mental Health (having lost a brother-in-law to suicide). One of the things he said that stuck with me, was that if you ever think of doing something, just do it. And that is so true. All the things that I’ve ever thought of doing, but haven’t yet, still taunts me every day (like that PhD!). Another excellent point he made was that if something cannot be scientifically proven to be impossible, then it must be possible. Definitely something to keep in mind next time you feel something is “impossible”. Continue reading