I’ve said it before, that I love big hairy goals. The ones that scare that pants off you. The ones that you hope you can achieve but deep down you don’t know that you can. For me this was the Tarawera Ultra 100km. Yep 100kms. Damn that’s a long way, but I had committed myself to attempt it and attempt it I did!
The week leading up to this huge event I have to admit I got very cold feet. I text Coach Ray with my doubts. I rang Coach Ray with my fears and I emailed Coach Ray because I didn’t think I could make the cutoff.
It rained the night before. You could actually say it poured with rain. It kept raining all night, but surely it would be fine on the day wouldn’t it?
The start was 6.00am and it was still raining. It continued to rain for the entire day and the entire race. Because of this, the trail was boggy, wet, slippery, muddy with little traction uphill or down. By the time this tortoise got through I was carrying the whole trail on my shoes with me and with most of the field ahead of me the trail got slushier and slushier.
It was very steep and not for the faint hearted. The selection of hills had me struggling for breath and down to a walk. If you thought it was going to be a nice easy run, think again. The hills kept coming, one after another, after another, after another.
The trail follows the Blue Lake, Lake Okareka, Lake Okataina, Lake Tarawera and thru the Kawarau forest, with fantastic views along the way and even on a wet day it was beautiful.
I pushed hard through to the 60km mark where I could pick up my first pacer. I was looking forward to seeing my friend Caroline who was keen and ready to go and pushed me hard through to the first cutoff. It was looking good up to this point, but I was feeling the effects of all those hills in my legs and the next leg through to the final cutoff was to be my undoing. It was continually up hill and I felt tired and slow.
Although I tried to keep pushing I was now down to a walk and had to accept the fact that unfortunately I wouldn’t make the cutoff.
I was cheered into the aid station by so many wonderful volunteers who were all dressed in fancy dress and manned huge buffet tables of food and drink. This is where the 100kms competitors turn off to do another loop to finish the 100kms and the 85kms competitors turn off towards the finish line.
It was starting to get dark now and we still had about 13kms to go. This is where my pacers swapped over and I was joined by my sister Helen. It was good to see her and we set off to finish this race. Alas we had a gear malfunction and had forgotten our head lamp, so as it got darker and darker within the forest we started to struggle to see the trail which was awash with water. We were a bit scared of falling as it being so slippery. We were passed by a runner finishing the 100km with his pacer who kindly lent us one of their head lamps and for this we were eternally grateful. It allowed us to pick up the pace and get home.
The next aid station was the highlight with flickering blue lights through the trees that lit up the trail and the volunteers dressed as Star Wars characters with music blasting. It lifted our spirits and made us feel good. Not far to go now.
15 hours since I started early this morning, I ran through the finish gantry with huge hugs from both Paul Charteris and Tim Day the organisers who put a beautiful 85km medal round my neck.
Whilst I didn’t quite achieve my goal of 100kms, I am pretty proud completing the 85km Ultra under trying conditions. There’s always next year.
Thanks to Coach Ray for getting me this far. Thanks to my pacers Caroline and Helen and thanks to the Qwik Kiwi family for all your support.
*A thought to remember…. If you know you can achieve your goal then it was never big enough to begin with! Always dream big!