Kosci Kosci Kosci, Oi Oi Oi

Crossing that bridge to the unknown.

To say that the past two years didn’t take its toll, would be a lie. I thought I was reasonably okay with everything that surrounded the COVID-19 pandemic, but on hindsight, I did feel down and uninterested in most things. Especially with regards to running, training, events, and everything running related, but also going groceries shopping or even just out for coffee. The constant reminder via masks, the tracer app, QR codes, and the resistance-inducing smell of sanitiser, was all a bit overwhelming and distressing, and it was almost as if social distancing became attractive and comfortable – not needing to interact with others. It was promoted everywhere – keep your distance, stay two metres away from others, and so on completely the opposite of normal human behaviour, wants and needs.

During the very first month-long lockdown, Gerry and I trained heaps – 465.5km in one month to be precise. I loved everything about it, apart from the fact that the virus was new and unknown, and just a little bit scary. I loved that we could run, and still get lots done around the house. It was also the first time ever we ran more than a hundred kilometres in 24 hours outside of an event. 

At the time I thought we were well set up for an ultra in the near future, but for some reason we just about stopped short the moment everything went online and all events were cancelled. I can’t explain why or what exactly happened, but before I knew it we hadn’t run for months, and we were back to square one. It always amazes me how quickly that happens, and how being sedentary creeps up on you so easily. Laziness seems to be the default mode.

The fact that events were cancelled left, right and centre, didn’t help. With the lure and prospect of an upcoming event off the table, keeping going didn’t feel important enough. I know it is and one should never stop moving – move it or lose it – but it always helps if there’s an event on the horizon.

Finally, after two years of not feeling interested in events in the least bit, I found one that got me a little bit excited: the inaugural Ultra-trail Kosciuszko by UTMB, in Australia. It is a sister event of the UTA and TUM. There are four distances to chose from (27k, 50k, 100k, and 100 miles), allowing 450 participants in each distance. 

Since we did our first marathon and ultra in South Africa, and our first 100k in New Zealand, I’ve always had it in the back of my mind that our first 100 mile event should be in Australia – a tri-nations of our running endeavours if you will. The event seems to be not super technical and might be the perfect introduction to a 100 miler. Only problem is, we’re almost starting from nothing and have to be ready by the end of the year. 

To kick things off, we decided to do a 15k for 15 days base-building stint, finishing our last 15k at a slow trot. Almost every outing was a run-1-walk-1 kilometre to help build a base without breaking ourselves by trying to run everything. Occasionally we walked the whole 15k, as often these outings took place after work and partially in the dark, and sometimes one just don’t feel up to running anything. There will be lots of walking involved in a 100 mile event (for a normal person), so training the walking muscles is a no brainer. Having to do this after work meant that we also already started using headlamps – another good thing to get used to.

On the eve of our last base-builder, we hauled out some big sheets of paper and coloured pens and started drawing up a training plan. Even though we plan to build up to reasonable weekly mileage, we will still be walking about half. Time on feet is after all what we need. Unfortunately, time is the one thing we battle with on a full-time job for Gerry, including 30 weeks of night and weekend classes for the year. To juggle everything around to get enough training, especially during the winter months, will be the biggest challenge.

On the up side, I haven’t been this excited about an event in a very long time. Now just to keep to our schedule, and not get sick or injured. Of course maintenance will have to come into play also – foam rolling, stretching and strengthening. 

The prospect of being signed up for a 100 mile event is very exciting, but at the same time I am scared senseless. A hundred miles is a very long way, and staying awake for 35-40 hours will be super challenging, let along trying to move for all that time. But scary challenges are always a good thing – something that will get one out the door and doing the homework.

The big question now is, what is further, a 100 miles or 161 kilometres?

The intrepid trapper: Week 21

After 21 weeks of exploring and seeing, up close, a part of the country I never would have otherwise, my adventures came to an end at the Southern Ruahine Kiwi Habitat Restoration Project.

Life is a funny old thing, and the only certain thing is that everything is uncertain. It is nonetheless sad for me and a very difficult decision to have made to leave. Due to a number of reasons – none of which had anything to do with working outside, in sometimes challenging weather, cleaning rotten critters out of traps, and often being knee deep in mud or cow poo – I made the call to move on.

We went for a run on the beach on a beautiful sunny day which was good, and topped it off by scoffing down some fish & chips which was perhaps not the healthiest but very good. You win some, you lose some.

Ultreia et suseia

The intrepid trapper: Week four – 30 Jan – 2 Feb

Day 10 – Knights Track, Toka Peak to near Tunupo Peak

It was a beautiful Sunday morning when we set off to Limestone carpark for another trip along Deerford and Knights Tracks, and up the mountain. Jonathan came up from Wellington, and Gerry offered again to help carry traps up the hill, both as volunteers. Since we only had three frame packs to carry traps, Gerry took my two traps, and I carried  all our snacks, water, warm clothing and safety gear.

The weather forecast looked favourable, and since we still needed to ground-truth the ridge between Toka and Tunupo Peaks, this seemed like a good opportunity. During our previous attempt, it was drizzly, super foggy and quite cold. And that was only three weeks ago. That is the nature of the mountain beast in NZ.

The steep uphill hasn’t miraculously flattened one bit. The relentless hill just goes up and up without respite to the top of Toka Peak, and beyond. Walking up the mountain with a heavy pack is, of course, slow going. It took a couple of hours to reach the place from where we had to start dropping off the traps (trap #15-10) and bait them. Some of the traps we set out were above the tree line already, in the dense leatherwood.

Once we got rid of the weight of the traps, we moved a bit easier as we headed further up the mountain. Another kilometre or so, brought us to the top. Once on the ridge, it is another few hundred metres to reach Toka Peak. The temperature immediately dropped, and I had to add a couple of layers, especially since we were soaking wet from sweating going up. The wind was also quite cool, which didn’t help. But, all things considered, it was actually very good up there – no adverse weather conditions.

We started ground-truthing when we reached the ridge and set a waypoint on Topo maps every 100 metres as the crow flies. A good few climbs on the ridge kept our hearts pumping and lungs burning. And a few steep clambers up and down on steep, tricky terrain, really engaged the attention. The ‘track’ is almost non-existent and unmarked, with leatherwood and tussock to walk through and over.

By the time we had marked twenty spots, we decided to turn around. It was already two in the afternoon, and we still had to make our way back along the ridge and down the mountain. After a quick snack (we left our sandwiches in the car), we started heading back the way we came. We were going at a reasonable clip, and it still took more than three hours (without stopping) to get back down the mountain. Every single step is a step down. Apart from a couple of super small and short wee uphills, there’s nearly nothing that is not a quad buster.

On the way up, I managed to go through both streams dry-footed, which was a welcome change to a usual day. But going back, I stepped on a loose rock at the last stream about half a kilometre from the car, and managed to get both my feet soaking wet. Yet again. No mercy for the wicked.

We arrived back home a bit before seven, and after sorting the animals, I was ready to go to bed. But of course we still needed to make dinner, finish cooking the preserve I was going to do during the day, get ourselves clean and myself sorted for work on Monday. I only managed to get into bed by midnight, and with the heat and wind, sleep wasn’t very flash, so I knew I’d be starting the new new week tired already.

All up, we covered 16km, with 1600m elevation.

Day 11 – Cone Creek

We met at the usual spot in Ashhurst, where Ian picked us up to collect 17 new traps from Ryman Residents. Afterwards we drove out to Ian’s farm to check that everything was working as it should, and spray-paint them with our logo.

It had been overcast when we woke up, but by the time we met in Ashhurst, the clouds dissipated and the mercury started rising already. By midday it was blazingly hot. Even with all the car windows open, we still arrived in a dam of sweat at Jim’s place in the small town of Apiti.  Driving out to his farm, some clouds started to roll over the mountain from the east, but they were few and far between overhead.

We drove all the way to just above Jim’s private hut, named Edelweiss, from where the trail starts. Luckily Jim offered to help carry traps and show us the way. Despite having been up the creek to ground-truth some of it, I wouldn’t know be the best route to take.

The four of us each carried two traps, and Ian had an extra one under the arm that was dropped at the first spot. Luckily most of the walk is in the forest so we were sheltered from the sun. I was a bit sunburnt from the day before, and was happy to be under the canopy of the trees.

Slowly but surely we were making our way up the creek, criss-crossing through the water. One by one we dropped the traps off, until the first nine were all in place. On the way back for a second round we baited, tagged and recorded them.

Back at the ute, we had a quick bite to eat, before setting off with another batch of two each, so another eight traps. This time we had to pass the first nine traps before we could start dropping off the new batch.

It is quite slow going, as the track is rather technical with heaps of fallen trees to clamber over. Not to mention all the stream crossings, slippery rocks and other obstacles. I managed to step on a slippery rock in one such stream-crossing and gave my shin a good knock on a sharp rock, which developed a massive bump and turned all shades of purple by the evening. Finally we reached the spot for trap number 17, our final destination for the day. We turned around and on the way back, baited, set, and tagged all the traps.

It was after six before we got back to the ute. Nina and I checked two traps on the farm (we checked the previous week) that was en route, and found a hedgehog in the one. After Nina cleared it out and reset the trap, we were on our way. The hilly drive through the farm also takes a bit of time, before we headed home, dropping off Jim in Apiti and driving back to Palmy.

Another very long day, and quite challenging to boot.

Day 12 – Jocks and Pohangina Base

I have not met farmer Jock before, as I only started working at ENM after Ian and Nina had already met with him.

Nina and I met bright and early (7am) on another beautiful, warm, day, got a cup of take-away coffee before we were off to the farm to check the traps. Despite roadworks, and slow speed limits on the way, we arrived a few minutes earlier than agreed at the farm. Farmer Jock heard us coming, so came down on his quad bike from the house to where we parked.

Nina introduced us, and while I was still thinking we might be walking around the farm to check on the traps, farmer Jock offered to take us around with his quad bike.

With bait, gloves, spanners and tongs at the ready, we were off. I haven’t been on a quad bike much (and have never driven one) before, but sort of knew what I was in for. Some of the places we went seemed quite steep or at too much of a lean, and if you’re not used to it, it feels a bit scary at times. But it was obvious farmer Jock knew what he was doing, so I needed not worry at all. And he is very entertaining, as well as knowledgeable about farming and the environment.

We started checking the traps, and quite a good few of them had killed something. Mostly it was hedgehogs, but also a few rats. In one of them, only the head of the rat remained. Something else got hold of the body and ate everything – bones, guts and all, or dragged it away.

Being on the slope of the mountain, we went further and further uphill, until we reached his private (hunter’s) hut. From here it did not seem too far to the top of the mountain, and Jock offered to take traps as high as he could with his quad bike, for the line on top of the mountain. This will save us a lot of effort, which I for one am very grateful for.

The hut has a beautiful view down the mountain, and is well equiped. Jock showed us around while we checked the two traps at the hut. The firewood for the hut comes from a huge old fallen tree (totara?) that they dragged up the mountain. Each year they saw off a ring to split to provide wood for the year. I quickly used the loo – with a lovely view! – before we started heading down the mountain through paddocks, and towards a more sheltered, forest area. Jock has quite a few trees and sheltered areas for his sheep, including streams and wetlands to ensure his stock is well looked after.

Some steep ups and downs, a few lessons in tree identification, and weeds and feed, and we had made it back to the farm house a bit after lunchtime. Jock gave us a few faulty traps that needed fixing, and showed us his fridge with deer that was shot recently.

A good day, great weather, entertaining company and a good few kills. Roughly every third or fourth trap had some or other pest and all up we got 10 hedgehogs and 2 rats.

After finishing up at Jock’s, we drove to Pohangina Fieldbase to check the trapline there. Over the 15 traps, we ended up with another 5 hedgehogs and 2 rats.

This trapline follows the edge of the bluff, and at one point, Nina showed me a viewpoint in a clearing, with Ski Station just across the gorge from where we access the Mid-Pohangina trapline. The latter was on the agenda for the following day.

Unfortunately this trapline is also somewhat overgrown (which seems to be the norm), but one can’t really get lost; you with either end up in the gorge or in the road.

Near the end of the trapline we took a shortcut out to the road for the walk back to the car.

Day 13 – Mid-Pohangina

Back to the Mid-Pohangina trapline to check the traps for the first time after deploying them some three weeks ago. Arriving at the farm gate, some sheep were being mustered into a different paddock, and we had to wait a couple of minutes before getting access. The rough 4WD road through a few gates took us to the furthest point we can drive to. The walk from the ute across the farm and down into the valley to the start of the Ruahine Forest Park is about 1.6km, with some decent elevation.

Since we deployed traps along the river in the last few hundred metres towards the park, trap-work started as soon as we crossed the river. With the lack of rain the past few weeks, the river is even lower than when we deployed the traps.

This track is fast becoming a familiar sight, but some of it remains a bit nerve-wracking. One particular scree slope looks like it has become a way for deer to dash down the mountain, exacerbating the erosion. My worst nightmare is slipping on the slippery slope and sliding off the mountain. Sidling up the valley remains a steep and exhausting climb, including some hairy bits.

A couple of traps were set off which could have been due to tree branches falling on them, or deer kicking them accidentally, or whatever other random reason. In some, the bait disappeared mysteriously, so we had to rebait them. But a few had killed rodents – four hedgehogs and two rats. One was still quite fresh. Poor bugger.

The rope we attached to a tree the previous time, was luckily still there. The trees hanging over the track was unfortunately also still there, and with a cap on, I could not see that it was perfectly positioned at the exact level of my head, so I walk straight into it, knocking me back on my arse. I heard something that sounded like a crack and hoped it was the branch. A couple of days later my neck was still sore, probably (hopefully only) from the knee-jerk reaction, causing some tightness in my neck muscles.

I was quite surprised at how steep uphill the last few traps were. Somehow I had wiped this out of my memory. Once at the far end, it was just a matter of getting back to the ute. Servicing traps take up quite a bit of time, so going back was a notably quicker.

Back at the ute, it was very warm, as it has been the past few weeks. On the drive back to Palmy, we had lunch. We finished a little bit earlier, which was a welcome change to our routine.

I will not be working the following day, which will be Nina and Ian going back to Knights track to deploy the last few traps up the mountain, and checking the trapline as a whole so far.

The intrepid trapper: Week three – 24-26 January

Day 8

With 24 January being a public holiday, we had a long weekend, so Gerry and I finished digging a trench through part of our olive grove and installed a drainage pipe. Some of the trees suffer from wet feet, and with all the rain we had late spring, they don’t look all that good. Digging trenches and carrying gravel up a hilly property is no easy feat, giving the old gal a bit of a hammering.

On Tuesday morning, Ian met Nina and I in Ashhurst for a trip back to farmer Jim’s property to check the traps there. On the way, we picked up Jim in Apiti to show us the way around his property. Ian brought along a few new traps and some mechanisms to replace any faulty traps. The ones on farmer Jim’s are about fifteen years old, some quite rusty and others just not in good nick anymore. Ian will service these to be deployed on a public road that’s part of the project area. The rationale is that, being old and rusty traps, they are less likely to get stolen or vandalised. And if it does happen, the loss is somewhat smaller.

Jim’s property is such that there are two separate traplines. One with 16 traps and another stretch with 20 traps. Ravines, hills, and steep valleys separate the different sections of his farm. Both lines run along fence lines bordering on paddocks. Although it is very steep up and down, the going is easy on grazed grass. But with the rain the previous night, it didn’t take long before my feet were soaking wet. We also had to jump the fence a few times as having traps on the other side of the fence means that the sheep will not kick and accidentally set them off. 

Jim and Sandy’s farm is beautiful – huge areas of indigenous forest with some giant red beechwood trees dotted all around the property, with ravines, valleys and little streams. Since Sandy also has a horse trekking business, this is perfect for scenic treks with clients.

He showed us a few landmarks, or attractions that are part of a horse trek outing, among others an old cedar tree stump that still contained slits cut into the trunk as foot holds for the tree fellers to saw higher up the trunk. There’s also an abandoned old blue Bedford truck hidden in the bush since 1983 (last date on the licence) when the owner parked it for good. It is completely overgrown with lichen and hidden in plain sight right next to the road. A bizarre, but quite amazing sight, with an interesting history, I’m sure. Even though there are quite a few massive red beech trees on the farm, one giant in particular is a favourite landmark on the horse treks.

We also installed five monitoring tunnels on this stretch, which took us on a private bush track that forms part of the horse trekking route. The monitoring cards will be placed at a later stage, as they have to be collected again after three days. Doesn’t make sense to place them if collecting them means having to go back on the weekend.

The second stretch of traps finished at a private hunter’s hut on Jim’s farm. We could get these checked, and reset by lunchtime. Jim offered to make us tea while we had a quick bite to eat on the porch of the hut. A light drizzle started and I decided to don a rain jacket for the walk down to and up Cone Creek. It runs parallel to Knights Track, but is located a bit more north, and on private land.

This section had to be ground-truthed, so a spot was identified every 100 metres as the crow flies, where a trap will be placed at a later date. Jim showed us the way down to the creek from the hut and back up on a different track. Although it is very pretty, it is also very steep, and will be quite slippery when wet. Down at the creek, we just followed Jim who knew which side of the creek is the better way to walk at any given point. A few landslides and some waterfalls forced us to make detours around them, and I fear I might not be able to find the exact, easiest path by myself.

By the time we got back to the hut, we’d marked about 12 new spots for traps. The light drizzle persisted, but almost not worth bothering with a rain jacket. Back up and out of the valley, we gathered our stuff to make our way back to Jim’s, as it was getting late in the afternoon.

On the way back to Jim’s place we caught up with Sandy who was tending horses, so Jim decided to catch a ride with her. While chatting, the drizzle turned into rain and the mountain disappeared even further under a thick cloud.

All up, we got six hedgehogs and a rat on the 36 traps. He also has a few possum kill traps in trees, and we saw at least one dead possum.

Day 9

Nina suggested we go back to Deerford to move the traps that were left at the junction below the loop the previous week, further up the mountain.

Luckily Gerry could juggle his working hours, so came with us to help carry traps. The weather forecast didn’t look too flash, but it turned out quite nice for most of the day. We each carried two traps (#5-10 on the trapline) to their spots on Shorts Track, some 3km and 450 metres elevation from where we left them the previous time. The first bit is a reasonable gradual uphill, but then the climbing starts in all earnest on some super steep sections. Carrying the weight of two wooden traps and some emergency gear, food and water, is hard yards.

After baiting, setting and tagging the traps, we made our way down the mountain for another round before the weather turned for the worse. This time we took the traps only to the start of Shorts Track (1.6km and 270m elevation), past Deerfort. Just getting there is in any case one of the steeper sections on the trapline, and about halfway to the peak. On the second round, the wind picked up and the clouds grew darker. After dropping off the traps, we decided to take the other side of the Deerford loop back down, to check the traps on that side. Some windfall blocked the road in a couple of spots where one either has to clamber over multiple huge fallen trees, or take a detour.

On this stretch we cleared out a hedgehog and a rat, and had to reset some traps that went off without killing anything.

My legs went from tired, to sore, to cramping, to screaming by the time I’d made two trips up and down the mountain carrying the heavy weight. By the time we got back to the car, the clouds were thick, and the cool wind was blowing quite strongly.

We have 53 traps planned for these two traplines on Knights and Shorts Tracks, and have deployed 25 traps so far.

Mini long loop from home

Date: 4 September
Distance: 30km
Time: 4.07

During last year’s Level 4 lockdown, we ran short out-and-back stretches in our tiny neighbourhood. So this year, we went back to doing this the moment the second (in 18 months) Level 4 lockdown started on 18 August. Running in our neighbourhood means that we are running more hills, which is good. Longer might make you stronger, but so do hills – perhaps even more so.

After three weeks of running up and down the hilly road, I figured I should be in a better place for running uphill. At our last hilly outing three weeks ago (the Mukamuka Munter) it was obvious that we run mainly on flat surfaces, and on-road, as was evident by our time, not to mention how I was huffing and puffing to get over the mountain. But we made it to the finish in one piece, and committed to getting more hills into our training regime.

We are lucky to live in the foothills of the windfarm. At the far, dead-end of our road there is a gate. I have often looked past it to where a wee forest is edged on the side of the mountain, just below the turbines. The turbines are so close to our place, it feels like I can reach out and touch them. We can hear them on wind-still nights. A contradiction in terms it would seem, but that is when the wind (usually a westerly that blows the sound towards the Wairarapa side) is light enough to move the blades, but calm enough that we can hear them loud and clear on the Manawatu side. Speaking to a neighbour yonks ago, it transpired that this road past the gate, apparently, does lead through this forest and all the way to North Range Road. We’ve been meaning to chat to the farmer to gain access, but haven’t got around to it yet.

So we opted for an alternative which unfortunately meant quite a bit of road running, and only about a third off-road. But the good part is that it included a hill of some 700m elevation.

It was overcast and somewhat windy. The forecast claimed sunny, one degree Celsius during the night and seven kilometre per hour winds reaching 13km/h by noon. By morning it was six degrees Celsius (so not terribly cold), overcast, and the wind was not too bad. By 8am, with a belly full of breakfast, we were on our merry way.

The road sections were unfortunately on reasonably busy roads. The Aokautere-Pahiatua Road (Pahiatua Track) saw quite a few cars and trucks coming by, but the Fitzherbert East Road extension towards Ashhurst was worse. Luckily we only ran about 4k on the latter. Pahiatua Track from top to bottom is about 9k, which was all included in our loop.

From Fitzherbert East Road, we turned right onto Forest Hill Road. Once off the busy roads and on the country roads, the run became more enjoyable. No need to constantly watch out for cars, and having to get well off of the road when trucks approach. After a kilometre or so, the uphill began in all earnest. We tried to jog little bits, but was reduced to a walk every so often. We knew that this road goes all the way to North Range Road, but didn’t realise it goes through private land, and a permit is required for access. A friend told us a few years ago that he often runs in this forest and so we assumed the closure pertains mainly to vehicles. From the North Range Road side, there used to be a gate, but I don’t remember any access warnings/issues. My understanding was also that the army sometimes uses this area for training.

After about 4k on Forest Hill Road, we reached and jumped over the locked gate (12k). We went through a tiny paddock and after about 50m there was another gate. Once we were over that I felt more comfortable that we were safe from the bull. Actually I couldn’t see whether it was a bull or a cow, but it was eyeing us and I was in no position to start sprinting should he decide to chase. Mind you, a raging bull might have pumped enough adrenaline to make me clear the average fence not touching sides.

Naturally, once we were in the Aokautere Forest and having jumped two gates, I instantly felt super guilty. Although it would seem that lots of runners use this forest as a training ground, I felt like a trespasser (which I was), and as if we were being watched all the time.

About 700m in, we reached a fork in the road. I checked my Topo Maps app, and saw that the road I thought we should take is quite a bit longer than the alternative. At this point I thought that the quicker we can get through the forest and onto North Range Road, the better. I was, however, uncertain about the alternatives as they didn’t look like proper roads. But as it turns out, they were just the same as the ‘main’ road. We turned right and after about 1k we reached another fork with the road veering off in three directions. Instinctively I thought the middle road to be the right one. Gerry suggested we go right as this road seemed wider and more like the correct road. I couldn’t disagree. After a few hundred metres, another fork made us once again question our direction, but when we reached the fence line of the windfarm still a few metres further, it seemed like the road was going in the wrong direction (heading back towards Palmy). Out came my phone and Topo Maps again, and so we backtracked to the fork where we went wrong, to take the middle road. Always follow a hunch. Haha.

Back on track, I was amazed by the beautiful area almost on our doorstop, but being a ‘trespasser’ spoiled the experience. With lots of the pine trees still in their teenage years, little bits of sun came through the clouds to warm the way. Even though it wasn’t meant to be that cold, it wasn’t warm either, mainly because of the wind.

The section through the private land was just a bit over 5k and almost worth the unnerving situation. Having said that, we will obtain formal permission to be there for next time. At the top near the gate just before reaching North Range Road (at 17.2km), it would appear that someone (the forest manager perhaps?) decided to make sure no 4WD vehicles can go down that road, by dumping two truck-size humps of soil right across the road. I’ve noticed the gate being flattened the previous time we were on NRR, but this was new (at least in the last two or three years). It took some clambering but we got over the obstacle, and clearly we were not the only pedestrians/MTBs going through there, as there was a clear, narrow path to show the way.

Once on North Range Road, we turned right again and immediately had to start negotiating the mud puddles. Even after a few sunny or no rain days, the 4WD section was still quite muddy. The wind was also very strong by then, and the wind-noise in my ears was deafening. It was evident that the 4WDrivers have carved up the road much more than last time we were up there.

Once we reached the Te Rere Hau windfarm gate (20.5km), I knew that the road was almost all the way downhill back home. The 3.5k we had left on NRR had only a small little incline, while Pahiatua Track was downhill all the way. With the new windfarm in progress on South Range Road, the quality of NRR has also improved. However, the super course gravel was very uncomfortable to run on. The road is wider, cleaned up on the sides and with a new (coarse) gravel topping.

The wind was very strong by then, and my arms and hands were starting to go numb from the cold. My core was still warm so didn’t feel the need for an extra layer.

Hitting Pahiatua Track (24km into the run), the road was busy as always. It is not the best road to run on, with only a narrow shoulder, and some parts lacking a shoulder altogether. For short sections we were somewhat sheltered from the wind, but most other times the headwind would blow me to a standstill. Lots of cars were out on the road.

I was tired and sore, but with the last 5.5k on-road downhill stretch, I could run all the way.

Back at home we had a shower, and made lunch before venturing outside for a bit of puttering in the garden. Late afternoon we made a campfire and had some vino to celebrate. I’m not nearly back to ultras, but am getting there slowly but surely. Getting back into the swing of things just take much longer than I hoped. And I still need to do lots of work on my mobility, strength and flexibility. My buggered hip and leg is still part of the package.