Date: 10 April
Each year thousands of participants make the trek to the Matariki forest at Waitarere Beach near Levin. And why won’t you if you live only a stone throw away? The Great Forest Events chose their name wisely. It remains a great event; with lots of participants, great atmosphere, good organisation and medals to boot.
The Great Forest Events saw it’s 20th running this year. With nearly 3000 entrants, this must count as one of the largest events in the country. Ample parking, lots of food stalls, enough portaloos and great prizes up for grabs, all add up to make this a great event.
Being off-road and away from traffic, also makes this ideal to just switch off and cruise along in low gear. Which is exactly what we did – a LSD (long slow distance) run. Running in the forest, you are for the most part sheltered from the sun, which no doubt would be ideal for most runners. Even I was happy with that for the most part, but a couple of clearings where you could feel the warmth of the sun on your skin were a delightful change. Admittedly, running in a forest doesn’t offer much variety on the scenic front. Pine forest have a lovely, tranquil atmosphere, but in every direction you look, the view is the same. Green canopy overhead, naked tree trunks, a thick layer of brick-brown pine needles and giant white-spotted red mushrooms everywhere.
The terrain underfoot is not particularly challenging, but it is also not tarmac or even a gravel road (just a minor hassle if you have low vision, or are not particularly agile). It is a two-lane jeep track with some shallow “potholes” that fills up when it rains and we had to sidestep a few of these. The gravel over the last few kilometres is quite coarse and difficult to run/walk on. But nonetheless, still a great event – not to be missed.
We arranged to meet up with some fellow runners/walkers from the region and it was great to finally put faces to names we’ve only met on FB.
As I was still in the process of trying to get fit for our 5 marathons challenge, this event yet again proved that a couple more months are required to achieve our goal. Alas, time is up and all we can do is soldier on.
Definitely, an event to consider if you haven’t done it before. And if you have, you will know what I’m talking about and wouldn’t need any encouragement to sign up next year.