Date: 12 September 2015
When Gerry and I did this event the previous time, we were fairly new to the area and hardly knew anybody. Although the event is quite sociable, I still remember running by myself for the most part, with Gerry supporting, and vice versa when he was on. We leap-frogged the whole course which I enjoyed thoroughly.
This year we were hoping to be ready to take on the whole distance as solo runners, but alas, I realised one week out that I will not be able to cope with a 60km+ ultra run. I’d rather err on the cautious side and not get injured before the Tarawera in early February next year. There’s still enough time to do these long slogs, so we opted to go for the 2-person team option again, and entered Team Going Nowhere Slowly four days before the event.
We must be creatures of habit, because when it came down to making a decision in terms of how to approach the 10 legs, we opted for the same format as last time. I started and did all the uneven number legs (1, 3, 5, 7 and 9) while Gerry would do all the even numbers (2, 4, 6, 8 and the final glory leg #10). To spruce things up a bit it might have made sense to change our order a little and swop the legs around, or do it altogether differently this year, but getting out of bed in time was enough of a challenge already without having to give the schedule much thought. We arrived in Marton a few minutes early, picked up our race packs and made our way to the start. Bill handled the race-briefing before setting us on our way on the long and winding road to Wanganui.
I started off right at the back, but managed to overtake two runners on my first leg. I felt fairly comfortable and could maintain a more or less 6min/km pace. Not something that comes as automatic as it used to a few years ago. Nonetheless, Gerry passed a few more runners on his faster than normal legs and slowly but surely we were making our way up the field.
I absolutely love swopping over with every leg, so each little section is not daunting (with the longest leg being 8.9km) and the short breaks seem to allow enough rest&recovery to easily get going again. Maybe I’m not running fast enough, but I found that driving to the next change over and supporting when Gerry is on, posed no problems for me whatsoever. Gerry did mention that it took his legs a few metres to get going again. Maybe because he had longer breaks as I am slower?
Meeting up with Steph, Greg, Marian, Kevin, Peter, Debra, Rob, driving past, or passing one of them, made for a very social outing. Meeting new people and catching up with a lot of the Striders’ walkers (Margaret, John, David, Evan, Bruce, Judith, Denise etc) was great. Seeing Perry, with support from Karin, on his out and back stint was an added inspiration. He truly is one of a kind, leaving the night before from the finish in Wanganui to be in time for the official start of the event in Marton and making his way back to the finish, covering 132km in total. We had a lot of fun, talking nonsense and cracking jokes all along the route.
Unbeknownst to us at the time, in all the socialising Gerry and I passed enough other runners that we ended up winning the 2-person team event. Whoohoo! 🙂
Thanks to Bill Charnock and the team at the Wanganui Harriers Club for staging such a wonderful event. It is a well-presented, value-for-money race that should be on everybody’s calendar. Happy to walk away with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc as a spot-prize!