Hacket Track, Whispering falls, and Chromite Mine loop

Date: 24 February
Distance: 11.6km
Time: 2:22

A few weeks back Wouna found a notice about an upcoming textile art exhibition and competition (the Changing Threads National Contemporary Textile Fibre Art Awards) that was open for entries, so she decided to give it a go and entered a couple of her large patchwork-style fabric portraits. Initial digital entries were submitted, from which one of her pieces made it through to the shortlist for the exhibition. This required couriering the artwork down to Nelson’s Refinery ArtSpace, where the exhibition was held. And then came the nail biting wait to hear if she made the finals.

When we got the news that her “Jacinda #1” made it through, we jumped into action (after some suitable celebrations) and before long we had an Airbnb and ferry-tickets booked, and our bags packed for a 4-day mini-holiday (plus two days travel) in the upper South Island to attend the opening of the exhibition. And of course, being in such a beautiful region, we were hoping to explore some local tracks and trails.

Our accommodation was on a farm just outside Richmond, and after our first breakfast I started scouring the internet for trail running opportunities in the area. As is often the case, the Wild Things Trail Directory proved a solid source of information. We found there were a range of interesting-looking routes (loops and out-and-back options) heading out from the DOC Hacket car park, which happened to be just a few kms down the road from where we were staying.

It was a rather dreary looking morning, with MetService promising rain from around midday, but luckily the Hacket trails offered many distance options, so we decided to head out and adjust our explorations to the weather as we went.

The track to Whispering Falls looked a no-brainer – a short-ish out and back with a beautiful waterfall at the furthest point, that should see us back at our car before the rains came. It proved a lovely run across varied but mostly runable terrain and the dainty waterfall was really pretty. About 1km before the falls, you have to cross the river where the path has been washed away. This will likely be a problem when the river is high, but luckily we got out and back before much rain had fallen so we could rock-hop without getting our feet wet.

Heading back, shortly after the stream hopping, a signposted turn-off to the left leads to Hacket Hut, some 3.5 km further out. We didn’t want to head quite that high up, but also on offer was another enticing option, the Chromite Mine loop, which starts on the Hacket Hut Track and then turns off to the right to wind its way back to the car park some 6.5km on.

While a 6.5km loop isn’t a big deal distance-wise, the day had gotten progressively darker with a light drizzle starting to fall. And as is always the case when it gets dark and overcast, unknown trails look just that little more remote and scary. So we hemmed and hawed for a bit about whether we should do the loop or just head straight back to the car. Eventually the realisation that we probably wouldn’t return to this area soon (we were hoping to rather continue exploring other areas during the rest of our stay) swayed our decision towards doing the loop, so up the hill we went.

The Chromite Mine loop starts at an incline, and for a couple of kilometres the uphill didn’t let up. We walked most of this, except for one stretch where we could hear some tree-felling activity quite close by so we decided to get through that section as fast as possible to limit the risk of a massive pine tree coming down on our heads. I’m sure that would not have happened as the tree fellers will be well aware of the track just beneath them, but one never knows. Accidents do happen. Once past the old mining area (which has warning signs to not explore), the track contours its way around a couple of hills on a good quality, very runnable old road that must have been built to service the mines or the forestry activities. After another kilometre or so, the track leaves this road and starts a rapid descent back to the river. This downhill went straight down and felt never ending – hard to believe the gradual uphill we did earlier took us this high into the mountain. We were relieved we did the loop in the direction suggested on the Wild Things site – going the other way would have given us a climb to rival the Rain Gauge track between Atiwhakatu and Jumbo huts in the Tararua Range.

After lots of downwards scrambling we eventually rejoined the track we took earlier heading out to the falls. From here it was less than 3km on a gentle downhill back to the car park – a perfect finish to a most enjoyable outing. While it’s a pity we didn’t get so far as to bag any huts on our morning’s outing, we were glad we ended up doing both the waterfall and the Chromite Mine loop – this is a beautiful and varied trail which I have no doubt would have become a regular part of our training regime had we lived in the area.

The Lords of the Ring: Massey 21 Marathon

Some time ago, we dreamed up the 5-in-5-in-5 Challenge as a way to keep us motivated and out of trouble. In a nutshell, the challenge involves running five full marathons over 5 consecutive weekends (from 30 April to 29 May) in less than 5 hours each. But there’s more… Since the fourth weekend of the challenge period is totally devoid of any running events in New Zealand even approaching the marathon distance, our challenge also means we will have to stage our own marathon in order to complete the challenge. We considered various options, including running the route of one of the existing marathons in our region, but in the end, to simplify issues such as hydration and nutrition during an unsupported long run, we came up with an alternative solution. Continue reading

The 5-in-5-in-5 Challenge

Many running books I’ve read talk about being passionate about running. How you can only be a dedicated, committed runner if you love running. And while I do love the idea of running and everything it represents, and without fail feel better after a run than before it, I must admit that I often have difficulty getting myself ready and out the door for a run. Once I’m out there, it’s great, but beforehand I often simply don’t feel up to it, and would much rather be doing something else. Continue reading

Manawatu Striders Half Marathon, Palmerston North

Date: 9 August 2015

Distance: 21.1km

Time: 1:40:46 (Gerry); 2:21:42 (Wouna)

If you do any significant amount of distance training, you invariably end up running out of new routes in your region. And most likely, to simplify your daily routine, you end up regularly re-running the same routes day after day. In our case, our daily runs usually include Massey University and/or the Bridle Track along the Manawatu River.

As a result, lining up at the start line of the Manawatu Striders Half Marathon which covers, you guessed it, Massey University and the Bridle Track, I was not exactly breathless with anticipation about the course. Which is not to say that it is not a nice route – we just get so used to it that we forget that it’s actually quite special. Spoiled ay? On the bright side, I was aiming to improve on my time from last year, so that will keep things interesting. Continue reading

Road-testing the Asics Gel-Kayano 21

Asics Gel-Kayano 21

My trusty Gel-Kayano 21’s after 6 months on the road. Being a mid-to-forefoot striker, the forefoot of the outsole shows a fair bit more wear than the heel, but generally the longevity of the outsole has been good. And I am very happy to report that the upper materials still seem perfectly intact – a definite improvement from my Kayano 20’s.

It has been 6 months since I hooked up with my bright and cheerful new road-tester Asics Gel-Kayano 21’s, so this may be a good time to look back and take stock of the first 600 kilometres of our relationship.

“Six months and only 600km!?”, you may exclaim in surprise. Well yes, I have to confess, my relationship with the Kayano’s has not been exclusive – I’ve also been spending some of my running time in other shoes, including a pair of minimal road runners (the Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit), and a range of trail shoes from Montrail, Nike, Asics and Mizuno. Continue reading