Tag Archive: offroad

When it rains it pours

Anzac weekend (yay for now having Mondayised public holidays!) we took the Friday off to head down to Te Anau again, this time so I could "race" the Routeburn Classic on the Saturday. We got there in the afternoon and basked in the sunshine...from within our cabin where it was warm and there was a bed to do our basking on. Unfortunately though, the sunny weather was not to hold...

It was a pretty early start the next morning, with the bus heading to the startline leaving at 6am, getting us to the Divide in time for an 8am start. Lots of us were getting into the spirit by wearing our heros masks from the race pack which turned out to be a cool edition since it helped kept my head warm!

Basically, it was raining and cold at the start and continued to be raining and cold for the whole race but the Routeburn is pretty darn spectacular all the same. Running along the tops after the climb up from Mackenzie Hut was tough going though as the rain was horizontal and the wind was pretty strong. I kept getting water in my contacts which blurred my vision - not good when the track drops off steeply next to you!

Arriving at the Routeburn Falls hut. Yep, I'm still wearing my heros mask - it helped keep my head warm!

Anyway, it was a super fun race and especially exciting to have M cheering me on at the Routeburn Falls hut. Yay! Unfortunately he got a bit sore and tired on the way back and I bet him to the finish which was an impressive feat since I was going at snail pace. Not to worry though since there were lots of people to cheer me on anyway.

The finishline, heros style. There was even a crash mat for us all to 'fly' onto. Good times!

I was pretty happy with my time since I really just wanted to get under 4 hours 30 but I can't say I pushed very hard so I might have to come back another year and attempt a sub 4. Actually pushing myself would probably help, as well as better weather conditions! It was fun though! Such a cool atmosphere.

The next day, after a nice long sleepin, we ventured out to the Milford Sound into the wild weather for a cruise. If only we could take good photos because the ones below make it look just wet and dreary. In fact the rain meant heaps more waterfalls (and I LOVE waterfalls) and this really spectacular atmosphere. I would love to come back on a rare day when it's sunny as you'd get a sense of the scale of things. The mountains quite literally rise straight out of the sea.

Here's how it looks when it's sunny! We've been working on this puzzle during the increasingly colder and darker nights!

One thing that does surprise me is how many tourists we saw down here without real jackets. Seriously, if you are planning on visiting New Zealand, especially the West Coast or Fiordland, ummm, bring a decent raincoat no matter the season. You will almost certainly get wet.

Okay, that's enough chatter for now. So much is getting banked up. I even have delicious food to talk about, not to mention the gypsy caravan...

Horrible runs and magic runs

Before we embark on the final long weekend before we get plunged into the depths of winter (sigh) I better get cracking and get myself up to date! It's been exhausting over the last couple of months. It seems crazy/weird but the winter period always seems to be the main event season. At least it keeps you moving through the dark months!

So last time I wrote, M and I had just raced Le Race and then I'd just flown home from a quick trip up to Auckland to run a half marathon across Rangitoto and Motutapu because, well, it seemed like a good excuse to visit my parents! Like I said on that post, I really don't recommend a tough off-road half marathon the weekend after going hard in an even tougher 100km bike race! I suspect I haven't learnt my lesson though...

I've raced The Dual half marathon twice before, several years ago and was kind of keen to get a PB but I hadn't had the best buildup with some niggly foot issues and spending all summer riding a bike instead of running. I don't run in the same way I used to back then either, with runs these days usually heading straight up into the Port Hills and then back down again and I'd forgotten how much 'flat' running there was on this course.

Basically hitting the wall super badly heading over the top of Motutapu for the final time

It was really not my day. I've forgotten how horribly humid Auckland can be and this sure was one of those days. Pretty much the moment the gun went off I felt awful, just super dizzy and my vision kept blacking out. Just shows how sleep-deprived I'd managed to get in the build up. Somehow, despite this, I made it up and over Motutapu and Rangitoto to the wharf in fairly good time (I think it was roughly an hour to that point which is around the 11km mark and with a fair amount of the climb done). I even managed the technical singletrack round the edge of Rangitoto okay but the dizziness was getting pretty bad and my 'cycling legs' (i.e. thighs feeling like blocks of wood) were really kicking in.

Still, I'd made good time but the final climb over Motutapu back to the finish, well, I just felt so ill so powerwalked most of the final 4km. It was awful! Then, with the finish in sight, I got confused and tried to go through a fence instead of following everyone else (totally my orienteering background coming into play here!). My parents had taken the ferry over to see me finish so I had a cheer squad at the finish which was awesome but I was so gladd to finish. 7 seconds slower than my best which sucked since I lost that trying to cross the stupid fence! But pretty impressive since I walked most of the final 4km! Unfortunately though the race really took its toll on my body and I was horribly sick on the ferry trip home and didn't really recover for another week. Sigh.

And then it was Easter...

M was racing the Tour de Lakes so I was there as support crew (and doing it badly!) and to check out either end of the Routeburn as I was entered to race it 3 weeks later and racing isn't exactly the best way to enjoy what I'd heard was one of the most scenic tramping tracks around.

After doing my best not to screw up my support crew role on Friday and Saturday I had a super early start on Sunday to drive the long road out from Manapouri to the Divide where I planned to run the track out to Lake MacKenzie and back (about 12km one way). In an ideal world I'd have gone further but I was supposed to get back to Five Rivers in time to meet M after his afternoon race and it was at least a 2 hour drive (so much driving...sigh).

I feel like I just don't have the words to describe that morning. From the moment you set foot on the track it is so incredibly beautiful. The bush was amazing (but beech forest is always beautiful), especially with the early morning sun casting thin rays of light through the trees. Then you reach Earnslaw falls and I'm a definite sucker for a waterfall so I hung out there for awhile (and again on the way back when the water hitting the pool at the bottom was creating a rainbow!). Then you cruise along the side where you get some stunning views of surround mountains before dropping sharply down to Lake Mackenzie where I hung out for a while, wishing I could head up on to the tops as the weather was so perfect. After a sandwich and a laze in the sun it was back again. Quite possibly my favourite run ever!

Monday morning M woke up feeling sick so wasn't able to race but fortunately he was happy enough to sleep in the car whilst I headed out on the track from the Routeburn Shelter end this time. The weather wasn't quite so good but most of this side of the track is in bush and quite low. I cruised along the flats then up the hill to the Routeburn Falls just in time for the weather to pack in which defintely made it pretty atmospheric! I cruised along the tops for a little while but it was getting pretty wet and cold so I figured it was time to head down again.

Like the day before, I met plenty of people all keen to chat and everyone was finding the experience as magical as I was. It helped to remind me just what an incredible country I live in. And by now I was super excited about the race in 3 weeks time (and also had learnt that trying to run over swing bridges is not fun).

In case you wanted to see some actual nice footage of the Routeburn rather than just my shocking photos, check out this video or, just actually go and do it!

Next up...wild Southland weather and the Gypsy Caravan.

Riding at Slater Road

Michael and I spent the weekend house-sitting at my mate's property up on South Head. It has to be one of my favourite places and is so awesome to explore. I still get lost! They even have their own private mountain bike park with heaps of single track in steep pine forest and an orienteering map of the whole property. What more could you want?!

On Friday I was up there by myself (well, other than all the animals) so I went for a good long run through all my favourite tracks then, after a rather brief dip in the pool (it's definitely starting to get a bit too cold for that kind of thing!) I took my bike out for a bit of a spin. Saturday Michael and I took the bikes out for a long ride through some of the many trails. Awesome day for a ride.

On Sunday Michael set us an orienteering course to do and we bashed through the bush having a bit of fun and getting in some training before Nationals at Easter. No photos because we were too busy orienteering! We were going to take the double kayak out after lunch but it clouded over and we decided to be lazy instead. But we did do our bit and rake some tracks...

Me and Jess playing at being farmers