What a beautiful setting for a run, or should I say 5 runs. A whole run festival with the big race being 32kms right around the Island. When you arrive you acclimatise with a 5km fun run and fun it is with a huge welcome from the local people. The next is the big one with a 5.30am start and about 10km of running in the dark, all on road. It’s right next to the sea with a lovely sea breeze the whole way round. Coconut palms, blue lagoon, brightly dressed locals cheering you on and….hundreds and hundreds of dogs…they are all friendly, have right of way and wander everywhere…one in particular ran about 15km with me until he got tired and wandered off for a sleep, whilst another competitor had a companion the whole 32kms and he even went thru the finish gantry and had a photo finish like every other runner.
Me being a dog person it was great fun as I got to pat every one that came out to say hullo when I ran by. With lots of support, toots, clapping and cheering the main road was abuzz with activity. There were plenty of drink stops all manned by local families, brightly dressed and hugely encouraging. The finish line was heard from the last 3kms with the local drummers beating up a storm and welcoming you home – and what a welcome home it was…with the beat of the drummers everyone sprinted up the finishing chute, under the gantry and immediately got given a coconut to drink, a beautiful carved shell medal was placed around your neck, lots of hugs from the local ladies and plates full of pawpaw and banana…Brilliant.
What a great run and over before the heat of the day attacked everyone, and time to hit the local markets for gorgeous local food.
A rest day was had the next day with lounging by the pool and some RnR.
A Hash harriers run was the plan for the next day – and if you have never done one of these, then DO IT! Check out your local run – they are an absolute scream…costumes were the order of the day. We were given rules by the Admiral and we were off following paper trails, arrows, rock markers etc – we got lost, we laughed, nobody could find the trail. There were people screaming off in all directions shouting “on on’ when they were going in the right direction. It is the funniest run I have ever done. We were then given a local island dinner put on by the Hash Harriers club – WOW…fabulous! And me being a foodie…I was in my element.
So the next day was a Round the Island Relay – teams of ten, so you got to do about 3kms each, costumes again and what fun that was, scooters ferrying people to the next drop off point, picking up the runner so they could cool off….it was a hot one tho…phew!
And….the hardest of all was an up and over the mountain run, right up to the “Needle” – the highest point on the island, which is a very tall rock! It is not for the faint hearted. It had rained the night before so the track was quite slippery and it is all through the bush, roots, rocks, mud. You pulled yourself up on ropes and slid down on your bum. It was straight up! And straight down! Hard Yakka this one, but well worth doing!
So there it is – the run festival in Rarotonga, with another day or two to eat, and drink and check out their beautiful black pearls, it was time to come home.
Well worth it and if you are thinking about doing it – the best place to book is with Andrea at Wildside Travel in Motueka, as she deals with all South Pacific events including the swim series in Samoa and the Tri series in Nuie.