Tarawera Ultra Marathon

Suzy Monds’ Journey with Team Qwik Kiwi

Suzy Monds is this months ‘Client of the Month’. She has had a massive athletic career since joining Qwik Kiwi many years ago. As the client of the month I arranged for a nice bunch of flowers to be delivered to her. This is her story:

My Journey with Qwik Kiwi… by Suzy Monds

I laugh when somebody calls me a “runner”!   (Thank you Ray) Me? a Runner – WOW.. really?

Runners to me are that variety of people who are tall, lean, wiry and have long long legs, who run like a gazelle, who make running look easy and effortless. I am not one of those people.  Unfortunately I was not blessed with any of the above qualities.  Alas I can hardly call myself tall.  I do not have long legs nor was I blessed with a runners leanness.  My love of all things chocolate has led me astray in that area! Let’s just say I am not a natural runner!

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Suzy during one of her overseas adventures

I also find it unbelievably hard being referred to as an “athlete”… (Thank you Di Chesmar) Me? an Athlete, NO …really? – I am just me and I just go out and do stuff! Athletes are those amazing breed of people that I see on television.  The sort of people that are my heroes. All Blacks, Ironman athletes and Olympians and such.  I hardly fit into that category, but here is my story anyway….

I have played Hockey most of my life.  Representative regional and provincial sides, so you may understand when I say I have hockey player’s thighs and butt.  Low to the ground and rather well endowed.  You could say like a duck! I have also taught aerobic fitness classes at the gym and (still do), played a bit of squash, soccer, rugby, etc

UltraBut here is when it all came unstuck.  After playing hockey since I was about 10 and with the introduction of Astro Turf and bad shoes, I developed shin splints and then eventually stress fractures, gnarly ones.

The diagnosis was no more running (I only ran during the game.  Didn’t even run for training. Training what the hell is that!) No more impact stuff for a while.  Well how long is a while anyway?

So I started putting on weight and getting “pissy” about it all and this is when things had to change.  I decided to just walk.  Well surely it can’t be too bad.  Not that much impact in walking is there?   I found I was quite good at it and I wanted to walk further and faster.  My weekends were soon taken up with 8 hour road walking sessions.

It was during these long walks that I thought I could walk a marathon and entered the Rotorua Marathon. On their website I noticed an advert about Qwik Kiwi and Ray being the official training consultant for this marathon so I contacted him to see what I should do for a training program. He was away in Canada and promised to contact me when he got back and he would write up a program for me.  Yeah right I thought.  That’s the last I will hear from him! But true to his word I got an email and joined the Qwik Kiwi team and over 10 years on I am still there today.

Well I walked that marathon and it was the hardest thing I had ever done and the best thing I had ever done.  I couldn’t walk back to the car without help. I couldn’t walk for a week afterwards! I was so stiff.  I had sore feet, sore knees, a sore hip. In fact just about every part of me was sore and with a hockey tournament the next week, I was struggling. I also vowed and declared that I would never ever do anything that silly ever AGAIN!!!!!

But it didn’t take long till those little germs of ideas were buzzing around in the back of my mind.  What if…what about…you could do this… and so on. I was hooked.  I had created a monster. So it was onwards and upwards with Ray and Qwik Kiwi.  When Ray contacted me, my first words were, “Hi Ray. I don’t run!!! EVER!”   And he will attest to that. How my journey has changed.

At some stage during this early part, I was keen on Adventure Racing (still am by the way) so I entered a team into the Autumn Challenge in Manawatu and Ray was our support person.

A little while later (about 2009 – not too good on the time line) I decided to have another go at walking the Rotorua Marathon and managed 4th in my age group.  Well that was a surprise I can tell you, but once again my mind was ticking over with all the possibilities ahead and so on it went.


  • Hamilton Half Marathon – Walk
  • 50km Solo Taupo – Walk
  • Spring ChallengeSt Arnaud – something else to throw in the mix – Adventure Racing and what fun…White Water Rafting, Orienteering, Mountain biking, running, tramping etc..Woohoo
  • Round Mount Taranaki Relay – Walk


  • Rotorua Xterra Half Marathon – Walk
  • 100km Solo Taupo – Walk – this was the biggest learning curve for me.  Unfortunately I bailed out at 75km because everything hurt!  It was to be my nemesis.  It sat on my shoulder for 12 months. I learnt about mental toughness, nutrition, toileting, sore feet, sore hips, sore arms, sunburn, hydration and more.  I recovered so fast that it proved there was more in the tank and I let my mind and my support person talk me in to stopping when the going got tough!!! Lesson well learnt!
  • 10km Walk Rotorua Marathon
  • Mizuno Half Marathon Walk – Taupo
  • Mizuno Off Road Half Marathon Walk – Taupo
  • Tough Guy Tough Gal 12km – Rotorua
  • SBS Hamilton Half Marathon – Walk
  • Rotorua Relay – Walk
  • The Goat Tongariro – one of the toughest off road events in NZ

I think it was about now that I got sick of all these runners passing me all the time and feeling jealous coz I secretly wanted to run and I think I asked Ray to start me on a run programme.  My first run was like 1 minute here and 1 minute there…..1 MINUTE!!!  Really, geez I am sure I can run for at least 10mins….Yeah Nah….I tried and couldn’t!!  So it was back to what the Coach said.  He was right all along.  Listen to the coach he knows best…lol


  • 26km Tussock Traverse – Central Plateau

Suzy 5
At the start of the Taupo 100km solo walk
  • 100km Solo Taupo – Walk – I can truly say that I knocked the bastard off! I bloody well did it and did it well.  2nd woman and 3rd over all.  I had the  Tbest support person in Ray, who came up and made my day that so much easier.  I didn’t have to think about anything other than getting to the finish in one piece.  He even walked beside me the last 20kms and got me home.  I was ecstatic.  The ambassador for that day was Steve Gurney and unbeknown to me Ray went and got his autograph and presented it to me. it read –Great Work Suzy! Life truly begins on the edge of your comfort Zone…you’re living ! Steve Gurney“.  How true is that?
    • Tough Guy Tough Gal Rotorua
    • Rotorua Relay
    • The Goat Tongariro


    • 26km Tussock Traverse – Central Plateau – and I am running now, albeit slowly.
    • 67km Solo Length of the Lake – Taupo – Walk
    • The Dual Half Marathon – Run – Rangitoto Hauraki Gulf – loved this one
    • Xterra Off Road Half – Rotorua – Run

    Suzy 7
    Xterra – knocked off the 19km
  • T42 Off Road Half Marathon – Run – Central Plateau – another tough event
  • The Great Wall Marathon – China – what can I say? An experience of a life time to run on the great wall, through villages and rural China. It was however very very very very very steep and so hence it was slow going, but I made it.
  • I love challenges – the harder the better, but in all the marathons and events I have done, I have never aspired to do anything but finish! But finish I will, whatever it takes. I do not do this for podium finishes (not that I could!) or flash times or PBs (even though I have done a couple) I only do them to finish. Why? Because the challenge of training and getting to the start line is big enough and the bonus is getting to the end. Plus it takes me to some amazing places in New Zealand and around the world which most people wouldn’t get to see.  To me that is the epitome of why I do what I do.  It also allows me to eat chocolate!!!

    • Spring Challenge – Methven

    Suzy 8
    2012 The Goat finish line
  • 20km Xterra Trail Challenge – Waihi
  • Taniwha Half Marathon – South Waikato
  • The Goat Tongariro
  • 2013

    • 26km Tussock Traverse – Central Plateau
    • 5km Fun run at the ITU World Triathlon Auckland – where I was one of the official mascots for Kiwi For Kiwis and yes I dressed up as a big Kiwi with beak and large furry body and collected money for the Charity. It was so much fun!
    • 2013 – Lake Wanaka Half Ironman…the funny story here is that I won an

    Suzy 3
    Wanaka Half Ironman cycle leg

    entry in October to do a full Ironman in March.  Me, an Ironman – Holy Moly in 3 months? I don’t think so…always read the fine print!!!  So I told them I couldn’t do it and they kindly offered me the half option.  Haha I didn’t even know what the distances were but I said yes after lots of convincing on their part. As Ray can attest, I do not swim very well.  Ha that’s the understatement of the century and even with huge amounts of coaching I was not at all confident in the water, so they kindly got me a swimmer and I was allowed to do the bike and the run and met a new friend in the process who came up from Dunedin to swim for me.  It was four seasons in one day.  The water temperature was freezing,. It had snowed on the hills the night before and it hailed on the morning of the race.  There was a head wind all the way on the bike and then the sun came out and it was sweltering on the run. WOW what a race…thanks to Ray who was a great support person.

  • The Goat goes Bush Kaimai
  • Motutapu Off Road Marathon – Wanaka/Queenstown – loved this one
  • Xterra Trail Marathon Waihi – unfortunately I missed the cutoff by 3 mins.  It really is my only other black mark! It’s very steep and gnarly this one. (Stayed “pissy” for weeks after)
  • Rotorua Half Ironman – I was silly enough to think I could do it again!!!   And once again I got cold feet and wanted to pull out cos I had no confidence in the water.  The organisers were so kind to me.  They let me have a support swimmer.  She swam beside me and kept me going!! Bloody hard work I can tell you….but I made it…
  • The Goat Tongariro
  • 2014

    • Rotorua Marathon – 50th anniversary of the race and my 3rd time, so I was running along (yes running!!) and I saw this big Maori bloke in front of me.  My immediate thoughts were geez he looks like a rugby prop.  I caught up with him and we ran together quite a way chatting as you do. He was very big and tall and I didn’t look at him as I would’ve had to stop and turn and look all the way up as I am not very tall plus I was too busy trying to keep myself going. We pretty much ran the whole marathon together and once I hit the red carpet I took off for a sprint finish as you do and I turned around and coming towards me was…Buck Shelford!!!   Haha I didn’t even know it was him LOL.  My only claim to fame – running a marathon with Buck Shelford, the famous All Black Captain and not even knowing (my father was not impressed lol).
    Adventure Race Coaching
    The thorn between the two roses. Coach Ray with Suzy (left) and Letty (right).

    The Absolute Wilderness Adventure Race – Murchison, -team mates, Ray of Qwik Kiwi and Letty from Dunedin.  We came dead last.  Lost our way a couple times. We got to the summit of Mt Mole on the Southern Alps, slowed up some through the night on the bike, coz we had to carry them a few times! Itwas freezing over night with temperatures hitting zero.  We made it in about 3.00am in the morning and I moaned and bitched the whole way -lol.  Ray can attest to that too, but it was good fun.

  • The Great Forest Marathon – Waitarere, Levin
  • The Goat goes Bush Kaimai
  • Tussock Traverse – Central Plateau
  • Bagan Temple Marathon – Myanmar (Burma)  This was one of the most

  • Suzy 10
    Bagan Temple Marathon

    awesome experiences I have had. This marathon was run in 35 degree heat with only 100 runners.  It was run in amongst the old temples and pagodas with their amazing Buddhas. Our pre-race briefing was just four things:

    • Look out for snakes
    • Look out for scorpions
    • Keep hydrated
    • There are no marshalls

    Holy Moly ..SNAKES.  No one said anything about snakes.  Hell what do we do if we see one?

    Flip it was hot.  There was no breeze and the humidity was so high you were drenched at 6.00am in the morning. Unfortunately my friend had a broken bone in her foot, but was still determined to finish this race so I made the decision to stay with her and get her home.  Never leave anyone out when they are struggling!!  Even though we had slowed quite a bit, as she was in so much pain, we both made it home and were placed 6th

    • The Goat Tongariro – as you can tell is one of my favourite events


    • 26km Tussock Traverse – Central Plateau – as you can tell

    Trial Run Training
    Tussock Traverse – one of my favourite events

    another of my favourite events

  • High Five O Challenge50 peaks 50 Days 50 marathons – Leg 45, Mt Te Aroha, to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation. Malcolm Law is a legend and I am proud to be one of the High Five O Family.  More detail about this can be read here.
  • Marathon de Paris – WOW WOW WOW – I have never run with so many people before…..54,000, it was such a fantastic experience and I know I have said this about them all and they are in their own right, but this was my bucket list marathon and it truly lived up to all my expectations. The people lined the streets and they called out your name… “allez allez allez go Suzy”.  I was offered Tequila to make me run faster, red wine, Baguettes…
  • I met amazing people and some other Kiwis in the mix. The atmosphere was exciting and energetic.  There was so much going on all the time. Japanese drummers, drag queens, bands of all sorts and nationalities, singers, dancers to name just a few, but I have to tell you about my funny personal experience.  Whilst I was running I had a wee technical gear failure i.e. my skort kept dragging down and damn near falling off.  It was messing with my head so something had to done as I couldn’t put up with it for 42kms!!! I backed into a doorway, whipped down my skort, whipped my knickers off, pulled my skort up and threw my knickers into someone’s front garden and kept on running.  It was over and done with within a few minutes and I carried on with peace of mind…lol.  The things we do.  The poor person that had to find them – well that’s another story, thankfully I was long gone!

    • Inaugural Taupo Marathon 
    • Round Rarotonga Road Race – 32km  This was fun.  They hold a

    Suzy 13
    Long steep climb to the Needle, Rarotonga

    run festival for a week with five other events – a 5km fun run, around the Island Relay, an off road up over the mountain (the needle) run and the big 32km race.  We did them all.  A nice jaunt around the island, you always see the beautiful blue water and always a nice breeze but it is still really and hot.  More in-depth detail about my time in Rarotonga can be found here.

  • Tarawera 50km – not for the faint hearted a good very steep run with varying terrain. In other words it was bloody tough!  Read more about my thoughts on this event here.
  • The Goat Tongariro – my report here endorses that this is another event not particularly for the faint hearted !
  • 2016

    • Tarawera Ultra 85km (87.2 actually) Yes I attempted to do the 100km in this race and didn’t quite make the 2nd cutoff, so it was the 85km for me

    Suzy 2016 a
    Happy to make the 85km in somewhat challenging conditions.

    on that day.  The weather conditions were atrocious.  It rained all day and the bush conditions were boggy, slippery and wet, wet wet! Maybe next year.

    A review of my effort at Tarawera Ultra can be read here.

    As you can see things have been varied and fun.  There is also many things I haven’t included, probably coz I can’t remember lol.

    I have done the Oxfam 100km walk, walks for Breast Cancer, walks for Endometriosis, walks for the SPCA- I have enjoyed it all.

    So what next?  Well there is always something in the pipeline and I have a few things coming up and an Epic adventure in October/ November this year.  Watch this space. Woohoo.

    Huge kudos to Ray and Qwik Kiwi for the coaching, programs, tips, phone calls, information and friendship, I would not have been able to do half of what I have achieved without his support. Thank you Ray.

    Remember: – Always dream big, and never ever give up!

    For more on what Suzy Monds has done recently with Team Qwik Kiwi click here for Part One and here for Part Two.

    If like Suzy you have got a big goal you need assistance to complete, apply to join Team Qwik Kiwi.

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    Click here for more information: https://www.coachray.nz/get-coached-coach-ray/coaching

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