I mentioned in a blog before the 100km race (Vibram Tarawera Ultra) I did on Saturday that I was getting tested before and after by a doctor friend to see what happened to my body. I had my after bloods, urine and ECG this morning so a couple of days after the event. The Doctor just called saying the lab had called her because they had found an anomaly. The lab was concerned because my CK (creatine kinase) levels were a bit high. On a normal person it should be around 60-220, but mine was recorded this morning at 7,000! The doctor was laughing and told them not to worry and told them what I’d done so the panic wasn’t needed. The labs are carrying on with the tests and I’ll report on a full results soon.
Apparently blood levels of CK rise when muscle or heart cells are injured. Your doctor may test for CK if you have chest pain or other signs and symptoms of a heart attack. The amount of CK in blood also rises when skeletal muscles are damaged (web source)
This last one is probably more likely my cause! I can feel the damage in my muscles!
All done! I finished this beast in 11 hours 22 which I’m reasonably happy with given how the day panned out.
A bit gutted too though cause I could have been an hour faster probably but I got a few bouts of nausea and stomach cramps which meant I had to slow right down to a walk. I’ve never had this before but Madeline said she was a bit sick today do maybe we had the bug the kids had earlier in the week rather than a race food thing.
Glad I pushed through it though cause I came right and carried on. It happened again a couple more times but I could push through it. I was going great in between these an averaging between 5.30 and early 6 min kms. Thanks to my pacer Darren Ashmore, he kept me focused and pushing along managing to catch a few people in the last 15km.
Was stoked to finally finish. Running down the finish chute with Madeleine and my girls! It was a long day but that’s 100km done!
This run is a stunner. Starting jn Rotorua on DOC bush tracks around the lakes of Rotorua and the last 40km on forestry tracks and gravel roads to Karawau.
Well done to everyone that had a go.
I’ll do a full report in a few days. For now I need to try and get out of the bed as I can’t really walk!
Last run before the big one – Saturday's 100km Vibram Tarawera Ultra
So just finished my last run before the big event on Saturday – the 100km Vibram Tarawera Ultra which I’ve had as a goal for a while now so very exciting the time is nearly here. A nice easy 30 minute jog to make sure I remember how to run after a very easy couple of weeks and a chance to have a bit of a three way conference call.
My body, mind and I all dialled into the meeting and I lay down some expectations and went through the plan.
First I lay down the foundation for the run. I’m aiming for between 10 hours and 10 and a half. I would be super stoked to break 10 hours! I base this on my training and the recent run on the 75km Hillary trail in 10 hours 10 minutes. This Hillary trail run was a training run to practice a few things I’d been thing about and I outlined these in the blog I did afterwards (http://runningbeast.tumblr.com/post/17471449769/another-hillary-trail-run-full-report-on-a-new) Although the Hillary Trail is 25km shorter than this Saturdays race, it is more technical, has more climb and steeper/longer climbs. Several people I know say they have done roughly the same time on the Hillary Trail as they have done on the 100km Tarawera event. At the end of the last Hillary I had gas in the tank and was running quite fast and free for the last 5km. I put that down to the tactics I applied during that day and will try and do the same on Saturday – I’ll go into those shortly.
This will be my longest race, and only the second time to run 100km (the first time was the Hillary Double in July last year which is 150km). Other than that I did the 70km Kauri Ultra last year and prior to that I’ve had two goes at the very hilly 50km Motatapu Adventure Race (2010 and 2011). So not a heap of ultra-race experience…hence the conference call .
After laying the foundation - my body and mind asked what the plan was. It’s a simple plan I started..for the first 60-70km the body is in charge. The mind is just along for the ride and needs to keep it’s mouth shut! It’s no secret that it will try and take over at the start and go out too eager – “writing cheques that the body can’t cash!” All too easy for the mind to get caught up in the atmosphere and gun it at the start to stay up front. This happened at the Kauri Ultra and I had to have stern words at the 1 hour to 1 ½ hour mark as the body was red-lining (heart rate was too high). Once I let the lead group around the corner out of sight and settled down, it was much more comfortable. In my last Hillary Trail run I kept a close eye on the heart rate the whole way making sure I stayed under 160 and it seemed to work a treat. Had gas at the end to spare and recovered really well.
Body will also get feed and watered right from the get go! Another thing learnt over the last 6 months and trialled successfully during the Hillary run. Start eating and drinking early to bank it all up for later when I don’t feel like it so much. When I don’t feel like it…still keep shovelling it in.
Now somewhere between 60 and 70km the mind is free to butt in. From all accounts the last 40km is a mind bugger and just quietly when it comes to physical stuff I reckon I’m really mucked up in the head – perfect for this stuff! I have Darren Ashmore joining me as a pacer for this part of the journey and I think this will be just the thing to keep the three of us (mind, body and me) going. Especially the mind – it’s a competitive beast, so a sprightly Darren running with me should spur it into action. The body should be able to just hang on for dear life and churn. I say churn as that seems stronger and more assertive than plod.
I’m not one for mantra’s and stuff but during the Hillary I would regularly say to myself “be aggressive!” – spurring my body not to slip into a plod. It did this, slip into a plod, on the Kauri Ultra at the ¾ mark until the mind caught up with what was happening and gave the body a good beating! The last 6km was very fast - down the hill and 3km along a road I was flying.
So that’s the plan. Steady to start with the body in full control – heart rate maintained at a good level, food and liquid intake high. Darren joins and we go hard – mind leading the way and the body just hanging in there.
We finished the conference call with a group hug. All of us happy in how we’ve prepared and itching to get on with it. Bring it on!
As an aside I have a doctor friend (who is far from sporty) and she is fascinated by what I do with these long runs. So she is doing a full set of bloods and an ECG before and after the event to get a stocktake on what happens to the body. Apparently some stuff gets to very high levels and other stuff extremely low? So Friday morning and Monday morning I’m to check in, to get poked and monitored. Ideally the after would be on Sunday but I’m sure there will still be some higher-than -normal stuff floating around in the body on Monday morning. It should be really interesting and I’ll report back with what is found.
For those doing the race – see you there, good luck and enjoy!
Another Hillary Trail run - Full report on a new fastest time!
So another run of the Hillary Trail done and an added bonus of a new fastest known time set. I did 10 hours 10 minutes. Just a half Hillary as one of my non-running friends refers to it now after I did the double! However this run was always planned as a training session for the upcoming 100km Tarawera Ultra.
I wanted to run a decent distance at pace (my pace – hence the solo effort), while also focusing on practising a few things along the way and testing some gear. My goals:
A fighter not a lover!
Feed the Machine
Drink up a storm
Please don’t read just these goals and close the page or you’ll be mistaking me for a drunk, wife-beating crazy man with the munchies!
I had these specific goals I wanted to focus on and managed to tick them all off successfully along the way. I’ll go into these later as they are more for the fellow running geeks or even those starting out to learn from. For non-sporty people a quick roundup of the run….
So it was successful training run. I am stoked with how things went with these goals and the resulting time. A bit gutted I didn’t’ break the 10 hour mark when it was looking like I would - with a time just under 5 hours 30 mins at Piha. But that heat got me and at the end of Te Henga before popping out on the road, I was fried! Luckily after some water in gob and on head, I still had the energy to finish strongly doing the last 5kms in about 25mins – not bad after 70km!
I’m also stoked with how the body feels – nowhere near as sore as after the Kauri Ultra so I can only assume that I’m a bit fitter and the three goals I was monitoring have helped. This bodes well for the 100km Tarawera Ultra race in March. The legs are tired but not really tight and nasty like after previous missions.
If anything the rest of my body is more bruised from the massive tumbles I had in the first half of the day. After a couple of weeks of dry, most of the clay tracks were really hard, but with the rain in the morning they were super slick and greasy so I slipped big time at speed and a couple of times just lay where I feel, doing that body stocktake thing that you do to make sure everything still moves!
No spiel on the Hillary trail in this report – it hasn’t changed! Still a great run, with an amazing challenge for all – no matter what the pace you choose to do it at. After doing the Double last July I didn’t think I’d run it again but it was really quite enjoyable this time (and I’m saying that less than a day after finishing!). Under 10 hours is there for the taking and 9 and a half is there for the speedsters!
Thanks to Gus for being my support crew. He and I ran the first ever Hillary Trail run together just over 2 years ago now and it was great having him there as support. I was worried he’d get bored but he said there wasn’t too much downtime when you move through the trail quickly. Thanks also to Gus for the photos in this report which are from his phone.
A bit demoralising having one of my daughters out sprint me at the end!
Now a report on those goals…
A fighter not a lover!
“Be aggressive” was my mantra during the 10 hours of running. Traditionally I have been attempting these longer runs and the Kauri Ultra race with not a lot under the belt as far as training goes and subsequently have found I settle, a little too easily, into a plod after the initial rush of adrenaline. With a bit of training and some hill sessions under my belt, I wanted to make sure I pushed the whole way – hence the mantra and I found myself saying this a lot, both while jogging up the easier hills or tramping the steeper ones. I’d tell myself to get aggressive and start striding out stronger with arms pumping, making sure I was going a good pace – rather than stoop back into the plod when it got tough.
I reckon I accomplished this goal. My phone GPS thing clocks splits every km and I had some good min/km rates throughout. I averaged a smidge over 8min kms for the day, an average of 7mins 34 per km for the first half and 8mins 34 per km for the second. For the last ½ hour along the roads, I managed just over 5min/kms which I’m stoked with after 70km.
I also wanted to start reasonably hard to recreate the rush in the first hour of a race till everyone settles down, so pushed quite hard. For the first two hours I averaged 6mins 34 per km.
But on the flip side of this “Be Aggressive” mantra was a constant eye on my heart rate monitor. At the Kauri Ultra I got suckered into the lead bunch for too long and my heart rate was red-lining for too long – consequently I paid a bit for this later. So I wanted to remain below 160 for a much as possible and as per the graph I am stoked with how this worked! I am pretty sure this careful monitoring early, helped created the reserves needed for later.
The last point for the “Be Aggressive” goal, was time spent at the support stops. I wanted to breeze through these as it’s wasted time. I did this for the smaller stops - just put food and fluid in the pack and go, so these were a couple of minutes each. Piha blew out to around 10 minutes with a change of shoes and sunblock etc. so still work to do here!
Feed the machine
I wanted to focus on eating right the whole way. In the past I’d start eating something after an hour and then try and eat something every half hour to 45 minutes after that, but would quite often realise I’d missed a feed. This is fine but you pay for it later when you start to run out of energy. So this time I got nutritionally geeky and listed out what I’d eat for each leg making sure it was the right number of calories and mixing it up so I’d be interested in eating it. So my great support man – Gus, had a list of what I wanted lined up to collect at each stop.
I managed to do this throughout the day and probably only missed out on the planned intake in the last hour when it got really hot and I could see the finish. Once again this, what felt like pigging out all day, really paid off as I still had energy to burn at the end. Along Te Henga I struggled a bit energy wise but I think this was heat more than food intake as I’d been eating well till then and had a good fed at my Bethells support stop. But once I hit the road and downed a litre of water plus a bit more over the head, I had energy to burn and raced hard for the last 5km – spurred on by wanting to get as close to 10 hrs as possible, now I knew the under 10hrs wasn’t going to happen.
Another benefit to me was no cramps during the day. I’ve been quite susceptible to cramps in the past and this food (and fluids) regime meant I had nothing more than a couple of “I might cramp soon” twinges from the legs throughout the day. This was fought off with another large sip of the electrolytes.
Drink up a storm
The last major goal was fluids – to keep this going in fast! I’m a cold temperature lover so as soon as it heats up I’m struggling. So the trick I needed to focus on, after the experience of the Kauri Ultra, was drinking the whole time no matter what – this means when it starts to warm up I wouldn’t be in the situation of ‘too little too late’ in the hydration scheme of things. So in the morning for the first 3-4 hours when it was raining I was making sure I was still guzzling down the fluid. I tried and actually managed to keep this up throughout the day – apart from the Te Henga walkway leg where I didn’t have enough so was conserving and probably fell a bit behind.
As well as the intake levels I wanted to try out a mix of liquids. So I had a 1.5 litre bladder of slightly higher than normal concentrated electrolyte (I use Nuun) and a handheld bottle of just water. This was the first time with a hand held bottle and I quite liked it mainly for knowing how much I’d drunken in a leg, because it’s right there in your hand – you can feel and see the water level dropping.
Handheld Bottle - I wanted to try the handheld bottle out and as I above found it really helpful. Once you are used to carrying it you don’t notice its weight. The only downsize was not having that second hand to catch you in the rough stuff – especially on tumbles. But this should be a concern on smoother terrain.
Pack – I wanted to recreate what gear I’d need to carry for Tarawera. There is no compulsory gear for Tarawera, so it’s just water and food which is not something I’m used to. I usually carry a lot extra and carry spare food and everything. So for this run I emptied our all this excess and just took the food I would eat for each stage and the fluids – just for that stage. I could have gone all the way but still carried a first aid kit and a warm top and hat – just cause I don’t thinks its sensible running in the Waitak’s by yourself without these. My pack felt super light and is probably a bit big with so little gear so I need to sort that out.
Shoes – I changed shoes and socks at Piha. Some people do this at the Tarawera event so thought I might as well. Was nice to change in dry shoes and socks – not that its lasts long!
All done in 8 hours 15 I think. Managed to pass 10 people in the last technical roots and massive downhill. Love dat shit! Unfortunately it was only one ultra runner and the rest were 32 course runners.
I started going to get between 8 and 9 hours so pretty happy with that effort for my first race greater than 50km.
Now I need to get beer and keep moving before I seize!!
Fastest on the day by 25 mins was Andrew Turnbull in a very impressive 7 hours 2mins. His first decent length ultra too.
Could have done with more water on this leg. Starting to cramp !
Lucky I’m coming up to 32 kn to go which is an aid station. And my food bag is there, with pizza! It’s also where the traditional 32km Kauri Run starts. But it doesn’t start for 1 hour so I guess they will come through me. That should help.
We're off on the 1st ever 70km Kauri Ultra Trail Run
A 6am start and just under 30 people have just started the first ever Kauri Ultra.
An uneventful trip up from Coromandel with Barbarella, Mal Law and Vicki Woolley. Another stunning trip along the windy gravel road to the top of the coromandel and around to Fletcher’s bay which is the start. We all stayed in a backpackers there and it was lots of serious race faces on. Not much yibba yabba so off the bed at 9pm. Probably asleep at 10.30pm once excitement allowed!
My body was super eager for its punishment to start ….so woke at 3.30pm and couldn’t get back to sleep. Never mind.
Full report and photos of my Hillary Trail double mission
So last weekend I completed a double effort of the Waitakere Ranages Hillary trail in 29 and a half hours. I’ve had a week now to ponder this mission and this is my full report.
The Hillary Trail
To recap, this is a 149 km run (6,700 metres climb) through the Waitakere Ranges at their wettest following the 18 month old Hillary Trail Route which goes from Arataki Visitors Centre at the southern end of the ranges to Muriwai, taking in some of the more scenic tracks in the Park.
The Hillary Trail connects a network of existing regional park tracks through the Waitakere Ranges. The 3-4 day tramp is advertised on the Trail’s website… “The Trail epitomises the sense of adventure and personal achievement that Ed Hillary himself championed and was renowned for. It is not a walk in the park - but a chance for well-prepared trampers to experience the diverse, and often challenging west coast.”
Together with Gus Grey, I was first to run it, and since that day I’ve talked about attempting the double. I’d never run this distance before and considered myself not particularly trained up for such a feat as I was recovering from a damaged disc in my back (long story) and prior to that my only real run of distance was in March racing in the 49km Mototapu Adventure Run event with Phil Wood. Also stacked against the mission was the fact that it is the wettest time of year so the tracks were muddy and energy sapping and the fact that it was the shortest day of the year 4 days after the run!
So I started at 2pm on Saturday at the Arataki Visitors Centre. I had my Osprey pack loaded with water and food, but only for a the next couple of hours as I had Richard Moyle (pretty much a professional support crew) following me in the car and he met me at points along the way so I could restock my pack with food and water.
I’d also roped in some awesome people to run different sections along the way. These were die hard trail runners who hardly need an excuse to get out on the track. They joined me mainly for safety so I didn’t run off a cliff, but also to keep me company through the long sections!
The first leg from Arataki to Huia (10.5km) was pretty uneventful – Bart Muylle joined me on this leg before racing into town to work and then joining me again later on in proceedings. Half way through here we ran into some Japanese tourists who casually asked how far we’d been and were going. The look on their face was priceless when we told them. “You crazy man!” they cried.
Bart and I coming into the Huia stop
Next was a similar distance out to the coast to Whatipu, but this leg had the first big hill and highest of the trail. Luckily we had fresh legs and made short work of it. Lousie Marks was with me on this leg – Bart’s partner and she is a great multi-sporter getting 4th in the Coast 2 Coast this year and 2nd last year.
Lou and the Manukau Heads in the background - starting to get dark
She kept me honest and we arrived in Whatipu 10 minutes under the fast scenario I had mapped out for the run. I had worked out a fast and a slow scenario, with the fast based loosely on what time I did for the single trip or 12 and a half hours (which was done on the dry summer tracks). This way I could give support runners and spectators a bit of a window as to when I’d be at various spots along the way. So coming in that quick – I needed to calm things down a bit if I was going to make the whole distance.
Coming into Whatipu
The Osprey Talon 11
At Whatipu Dan Roberts joined Lou and I and we set off up the coast to Karekare. Dan has done the Hillary Trail 4 times and parts of it many times so is an experienced runner for these tracks. It was just getting dark here so I slipped on my Ay Up lights. Cue the gratuitous plug…These are the bomb and turn night into daylight. The Ay Up Lighting system is lightweight and has some of the most powerful LED’s out there. The small rechargeable batteries lasted the duration. I used a smaller (2 AA battery sized but lighter) battery for 5 hours on mostly full beam (they’re advertised as 6 hours low beam or 3 hours high beam) and the rest of the night session with a bigger (around 4 AA battery sized) pack on high beam and it had heaps of juice left. I would highly recommend these to anyone doing anything at night.
We got to Karekare at 7.11pm, a few minutes ahead of the fast scenario still, despite the track being really muddy. Doh! I thought I needed to slow down as it seemed pretty quick but the legs felt good. We hoovered into some pizza here – my first real food and as we left regretted eating so much as the tummy was a bit solid! Up and out of Karekare towards Piha, this was a slightly longer leg at 12.5km and included a bit of gravel and sealed road along the top of Piha before dropping back into the bush again and running past the Kitekite Falls (which were in full flow and looked stunning in the moonlight). Just before dropping into the bush we were met by two Auckland Council Parks Rangers (Stu and Simon) who I have dealings with through Lactic Turkey Events and they were keen to run with us for an hour or two. One was the local Piha ranger and he had great delight in pointing out how much better his tracks were than some of the rest of them we’d run over – hilarious! These two sprightly rangers managed to drag us through at a pretty hectic pace and we arrived in Piha 18 minutes ahead of the fast scenario schedule. I was tracking for a pretty solid time for a one way Trail, better than I had done before and was really worried now because I had to come back.
Louise finished here and it was just the Rangers, Dan and I as we climbed out of Piha. It was a stunning clear night, but we could see the odd lightning flash over towards Auckland. This is a big leg, from Piha to Bethells and I reckon the toughest at 14.2km with the dreaded Kuataika Track in the middle of it. We left the rangers on the road at Anawhata before Dan and I dropped onto the Kuataika track and plodded our way up the big steep hills. My mind and body still felt really good and we kept a good pace despite these hills. I was surprised as I was expecting to be starting to cramp and tire by now, given how little training I’d done. After these climbs we had a gnarly downhill to the Wainamu Lake and found the tracks around the lake a mud pool the whole way. My feet were well and truly soaked through and starting to get a bit damaged. We came into the support spot at Bethells in 9 hours 40, just before midnight and still 10 minutes ahead of the fast schedule.
Dan and I at Bethells - still got energy!
We picked up Bart again here and the three of us headed off along the Te Henga Coastal walkway. This is my favourite track in the Waitak’s and it didn’t disappoint. Running along here was the highlight of the whole mission – both ways were good but probably the return trip better. This track weaves along some cliff tops high above the crashing waves of the West Coast. The wind was up so the waves were really cranking and the moonlight on these was quite dizzying if you looked down. Bart was recovered from his earlier jaunt so pulled Dan and I through. However it was still quite a slow leg compared to the schedule, just due to the darkness I think and having to take things a little easy. It could go horribly wrong with one misplaced step! We were at Muriwai and had finished the first half of my mission, one Hillary Trail in 12 hours 35 and the time was 2.45am.
Vicki Woolley was waiting to meet me here. The lads headed home so it was just Vicki and I heading south. Vicki has done the Hillary Trail before, in winter last year starting at midnight and did a spectacular time. She is a trail running junkie and was the most excited of all the support runners – more so than me even and said she had hardly slept all week with excitement. We set off on the return leg to Bethells and as we tramped along the road section, saw massive bursts of lightning across to the east above the city. Luckily it was still pretty clear where we were although the wind was starting to pick up. By the time we got onto the coastal walkway the wind was blowing big time. We kept a good pace but there were some hairy times. At one stage I heard Vicki yell “arrrggh!” I looked around asking if she was alright and she said she grabbed a gorse bush as she’d tripped and didn’t know what was below, so gorse was the lesser of two evils. She admitted afterwards that this was the only night run she’d done where she actually felt uneasy! Once off the cliffs things were a bit quieter and smoother and we clocked into Bethells at 5.40am and only 3 minutes slower than the outward leg. Pretty impressive! But when was I going to do that calming down I needed to get through?!
A wee bit to eat for breakfast and we continued around the bog of doom that surrounded Lake Wainamu and up the hill. The sun was just peaking over the ranges as we neared the top and it was really nice to take off the headlamp that had guided my way for the last 13 hours or so. We could see further than the spotlight the Ay Up’s lit up!
The Kuataika Track was a slog and I was feeling pretty sleepy by this stage. At one stage as we arrived at the top and out onto Anawahta Road Vicki asked me if I would continue from Piha? She’d heard me wrong or I’d said something I didn’t know, to give her the perception that I was calling it quits at Piha. I replied “No…no way!” super animated compared to what I’d been for the last hour as I hadn’t even considered this. I was however fighting the sleep monsters.
Vicki and I running along Piha Beach
These monsters were well blown away as we made our way down Piha Beach towards the Piha Café, where the support team waited. Also waiting was a super delicious and hot breakfast from the wonderful new owners Pete and Pattie at the Café. There were actually more than 10 people there to cheer me in. It was awesome to see my three wee girls and they sprinted with me up into the café carpark.
My three lovely girls sprinting to keep up as we near Piha Cafe
My wife and Rich got my pack ready with food and water for the next leg while Pete and Pattie provided coffees and a full cooked breakfast. I inhaled this big breakfast like it was a wee snack and the coffee was almost instant in its awaking of me. Thank you Piha Café – awesome food and coffee and the hospitality was outstanding for our somewhat unique party – Pete was taking photos and shaking his head in amazement. They presented me with a Piha Café t-shirt just before I left. I was stoked!!!
Look at the smile! - Food
Vicki digs into her food
Mmmmm yum yum mmmmmmmm
Rich the support man, Zara my eldest, Barbarella (standing), Pattie (cafe owner), Me, Vicki and 3/4 of Phil
I spent a bit long here enjoying the food and rest. The new support runners were itching to start so I put the pack on again and off we headed. For this leg I had Vicki, and the nice and fresh Barbarella and Phil Platt. Barbarella is an experienced hand at adventure races, long trail runs and in general team racing and quickly took charge of seeing I was right and supporting me for the majority of what was left of the run. She even said they were going to take my pack for the uphills….”No way”, I replied. I wasn’t about to let that happen, as that would have been cheating and it felt good on me.
Cue another deserving and gratuitous plug. My Osprey Talon 11 had been on me and loaded up for nearly 19 hours and I didn’t have any pack rub! There’s not much better test and proof of a good pack than that. The beauty of the Talon is the ease at which you can adjust all the straps as you go. So as you eat and drink and the pack gets lighter you can fine tune the setup of the pack on your back to the optimal position – it was magic. But that’s not all – the two hip pockets allowed plenty of room, one for my iPhone which was tracking my progress with a GPS app and the second for gels and bars. There was some more substantial food in one of the bigger side pockets and rubbish in the other. Lastly the liquid bladder fits nicely in the provided compartment and the wee loops on the front straps kept the hose and nozzle at the right spot. Highly recommend this pack – it felt like a bit of good fitting clothing for the whole way rather than a pack on your back – even though I was carrying lots of water, food, some warm gears, first aid etc. Go the Osprey Talon 11!
Barbarella, Vicki and I at Kitekite Falls
Anyway… they didn’t take my pack ever! We made our way out of Piha at a slower pace as I finished another coffee!! It was nice to see Kitekite Falls in the daylight and likewise the coastline from the Mercer Bay Loop Walk – it was pretty wild with the weather now and looked amazing.
On the way to Mercer Bay
Mercer Bay lookout - that’s a wild coast!
We ran into another supporter, Alan Moore, as we dropped down into Karekare. It was quite a group of runners now which helped the time and the kms ease by quickly. A wee routine was formed in that there was always someone behind me and the rest took turns at the front – good pacing! We finished this leg quite strongly I thought and I was feeling good after the coffees.
Looking down into Karekare
The legs still felt pretty strong the only thing bad was my feet (which by this stage felt like one big blister underneath from being wet for so long) and an upset stomach which I assumed was from the huge amount of sports gels I had consumed! We did that leg in 2 hours 10 which was only 25 minutes slower than the day before on the way north. I was stoked with this given we’d had a longer break in Piha which was included in this time. It started dawning on me here that I was going to easily make it and even with quite a smart time! Why was my body not buggered yet?!
A quick stop here as the rain had set in for good now. We made our way to Whatipu. Things really slowed here, not due to anything we controlled but because of the track conditions. The tracks were more like streams filled with mud and it was slow going slipping and sliding through mud pool after mud pool. Downhills, which I’d usually been jogging down at a reasonable pace, were lots slower as we tried not to end tits up in the puddles!
Coming down into Pararaha Valley - look at the track (stream) we had to run in
Vicki, Barbarella, Alan, and I at the bottom of the Pararaha Valley. Flooded boardwalks.
A flooded Pararaha
As we came into Whatipu we were relieved for a break from it! This leg was 40 minutes slower on this return than it was the day before … it was a bit frustrating.
Having a quiet moment - 2 legs to go!
At Whatipu I said goodbye to Vicki who had been with me for 11 hours now and she was looking tired … at last! An awesome effort! Amy Entwisle joined me here. I used to work with Amy and she is now a regular running buddy and together with Alan, Barabarella and Phil we set off. Phil was doing awesome and announced as we left that this was now his longest run ever! He’d only recently been introduced to trail running by Vicki and was loving the run, the stormy weather and the whole experience – fantastic. He would race ahead and take some of the great photos you can see here.
Coming up out of Whatipu - still striding out!
The rain was really hammering down as we climbed the big hill out of Whatipu and tip toed our way along the exposed ridgeline of the breathtaking Omanawanui Track. It was wild!
Windy Omanawanui Track
We got to the top of this climb, the last monster climb of the run and it was nice to drop down into the valley above Huia. I was getting really excited now – only one short leg to go! We clocked into the Huia stop at half 4 on Sunday afternoon or as the lovely lady who made announcements on my iphone app said, “1 day and 2 hours” after we started. This lady had been making announcements every half hour and had during the run been introduced to all the support runners and developed quite a personality. She was great and although a little disheartening in the early part of the run when she triumphantly declared I only had 134 kms to go! or 120km to go, was a great tool for making sure I ate and drank at regular intervals as I’d made sure I’d done both each time she spoke.
That leg took 2 hours 47 minutes, which was just under an hour slower than the way out – seems a long time but once again I think the mud and weather was to blame. We were pretty ginger along the ridge in the winds, and in the steep slippery downhills, but running quite steadily when out of the weather.
Last leg now and its considered a wee leg compared with the others – we had clocked it in 1 hour 20 the day before so thought 2 hours would be achievable. Barbarella dropped out here to look after her injured knee – she’d been fantastic since Piha making sure I was looked after and still fine. A great team player and I heard afterwards that the other support runners learned lots off her in this time – that’s the spirit!! Phil also decided to finish here – a marathon effort from him … now a true trail running convert! So Amy and Alan were there to look after me to the end. Little did we know it was to be the toughest leg of them all!! What a shocker! This wee leg sucked my will to live – what a mind bugger. I was so close and I regularly run these tracks so know the speed I could do on them but we were stuffed by the mud. It was long and tedious. I was thankful I still had strength in my legs because it was tiring work literally plodding through ankle deep to calf deep mud most of the way. It got dark a third of the way in here so we donned lights again.
It ended up being a 3 hour 8 minute leg! It was a huge relief to be done with the mud and get onto the big wide and gravel Slip Track (ironic I know), which climbs to the finish. I pushed hard up here, legs feeling good so I tried to keep a good pace so I’d finish under 29.5 hours. As we peaked onto the top of the climb I heard a cheer coming from the Visitors Centre just 200m below. It was amazing to jog down to the finish with this constant noise from a lovely little crowd cheering me in. At 29 and a half hours I stopped the stopwatch! I’d done it – first to do the Double Hillary Trail! I’d knocked the bugger off!
Amy, me and Allan - Finished!
I was stoked to finish, although to those there it might not have seemed it as I’m pretty sure my body started going into shutdown … Shaun is logging off. From one instant striding out up a munty hill to hardly being able to walk and I felt sick and shaky. The crowd of supporters (some had come back after a sleep and showers from running with me earlier) congratulated me and I tried to stay standing up.
I couldn’t eat or drink so my lovely wife piled me into the car while the awesome Richard who supported the whole way packed up my gear (despite probably feeling just as whacked). I got home and tried to shower (quite hard to clean muddy legs when you can hardly bend down past your shoulders!) and fell into bed. I was feeling pretty rough. Quite mind blowing, the body had been fine all the way until it had done its job and then it was instantly sore. Sore like you feel two days after a massive run! Apparently all night I swapped between a fever like warmth to shivering cold and shifting around as though I couldn’t get comfortable. I was oblivious to this as I slept.
So it’s a few days later now and I am all recovered – didn’t really get sore legs, no hint of any injuries – the only thing is some blisters on my feet. Once again I can’t quite understand it. I thought was well under-prepared for such a feat given I’d not done any specific long training and was recovering from a back injury. Before starting I was worried I was taking it all a bit too casual and probably shouldn’t be doing it but I did. The body is a fantastic invention!!!
Lots of people have congratulated me and in the same breath told me I am crazy – more the ones that don’t do much exercise themselves so don’t understand. Lots have also asked what next? I’m not sure. I’m stoked I’ve done it but don’t want to see the Hillary trail for at least a couple of months. At this stage I don’t have a big mission on the horizon. Now I know my new limit, I’ll have to think of something to test it!!
I’d like to thank all my support runners who came for parts of my journey. It was reassuring knowing that they’d look after me if things went pear shaped and it was great company. People from different backgrounds, but all enjoying being out in the wilderness that is the Waitakere Ranges! A huge thank you to Richard who clocked up over 300km in the car supporting, feeding and watering me and pushing me out of the support stops back onto the trail. He managed a bit of sleep but it was a full on mission for him and he adds another support badge from me! Thanks to my wife Madeleine too for understanding that once I have something in my head there’s no stopping me so she might as well support me and help me through – just like she did. All fantastic people and without whom I wouldn’t have been able to compete this mission.
I hope you enjoyed the live updates and reading about this adventure. I’ve shared because I would like to read about stuff like this. It’s inspiring to me so hopefully helpful and interesting to you!
Well I did it. The Hillary Trail Double which my phone clocked at 148.8km, in a time of 29 and a half hours.
The last leg from Huia to Arataki really nailed me - probably more mentally as it was a muddy bog hole! Draining the energy and slowing things down. So close to the finish but it was taking so long My legs still felt okay up the last big hill.
Then I finished at Arataki to a loud cheer from a bunch of supporters and family. It was amazing! (more on these great people later).
I was stoked to finish, although to those there it might not have seemed it as I’m pretty sure my body started going into shutdown….Shaun is logging off. From one instant striding out up a munty hill to hardly being able to walk and I felt sick and shaky.
I couldn’t eat or drink so my lovely wife piled me into the car while the awesome Richard who supported the whole way packed up my gear (despite probably feeling just as whacked). Got home and tried to shower (quite hard to clean muddy legs when you can hardly bend down past you shoulders!) and fell into bed. Scoffed 2 kebabs that Madeleine had got me and fell into a deep sleep.
What blew me was that the body had been fine all the way until it had done it’s job and then it was instantly sore. Sore like you feel two days after a massive run!
Anyway. Just woke at 7.30am (thanks to my lovely rowdy daughters), checked all the awesome support on Facebook etc while having breakfast and draining Auckland water reservoirs of liquid. Now I need to sleep again.
A proper post mission report will be filled later.
It’s about 0630 and the action is just starting out here the beast and Vicky have left bethells and are heading to piha now o think we will see them about 0830-0845 the beast now admits to feeling tired but the interesting fact is bethells to murawai 2.50.30 and the return trip 2.53.10 all is well out here a little rain and some wind
12 hours 40 to muriwai. Heading for home now. The homeward stretch. A long stretch but in the right direction.
A wee body inventory check. My arms still work wonderfully! The legs are starting to feel a bit tired. Feet a bit sore. But in general feel okay and still able to stride.
Have Vicki wooley with me now. The boys stopped at Muriwai. She is a mad keen trail runner and is with me to the finish. A bunch of people are joining at piha. Along with a cooked breakfast from the piha cafe!
2.15am and I’ve been going just over 12 hours. We just finished the Te Henga coastal walkway. Stunning! The moonlight meant we could see the big waves crashing against the cliff which the track we were running on weaved above.
A bit slower in the dark on this leg as there’s some treacherous above the cliffs.
Bart joined up for this leg coming back out after working. Help keep the pace honest!!
So nearly at the end of the first Hillary Trail. Up to just under 71km.
Well the beast and his followers have left bethells and are making there way north just heard from Vicky she is gonna aim to be at murawai a little early there doing real well Shaun has gone to new socks as the last ones were full of sand
Just Dan and I now. The park rangers bailed at aniwhata. We were quite happy actually as they were a but speedy! It’s pretty quiet in the bush now at 10.30pm. Making good progress and averaged 10 min kms so far.
Just over aniwhata road. I have a gps app on my phone that does announcements every 30 mins. A nice ladies voice announces my current pace, average pace, distance. Best of all though she puts on her most cheerful voice for distance remaining…109km :)
Well they have left piha no sand or surf for me and hopefully they will miss it to clear night and the moon is awesome still running fresh. Lou recons it’s a warm night out . Thats all from us till murawai sleep well