Barb’s 2nd Place at the Arrowsmith High Country Marathon

My journey to running Arrowsmith Marathon started around four months ago after running as part of a team in the November 2017 Molesworth Relay.  I started wondering what challenge, if indeed any, I next wanted to set my sights on.  2017 was a little disappointing for me as my health did not allow me to fulfill my earlier dreams for the year.

As a Mid-Cantabrian there are amazing mountains and high country stations within an hour or two from home and I had been aware of the Arrowsmith Marathon event for a couple of years and always thought, no way – it would be much too hard for me.  However, I decided to bite the bullet and completed the online registration early in December 2017 including payment so was then fully committed to just getting on with my training and doing it.

I have been fortunate to have continued guidance and training from Coach Ray which allowed me to regain most of my form lost previously through surgery and a few winter bugs in 2017.  Despite knowing my fitness was at a level where I would be competent to complete this marathon I still had a lot of self-doubts before the day.

Saturday 24 March 2018 was an early start for me rising at 4.50 am, having breakfast at 5.20 am, and in my car at 6.00 am to drive the hour and a half up to Lake Heron where Mt Arrowsmith Station is located and home to Arrowsmith Marathon. Pre Event registration was from 7.00 am with the run starting at 8.30 am.

The event organiser had emailed all competitors on Thursday night advising that there had been substantial rain on the station resulting in a very wet and muddy underfoot four-wheel drive track so I was expecting a 6-7 hour slog especially as the first 11.5km had a 700m climb.

Most of my training had been completed on flat terrain with a very small amount of hill reps thrown in a few weeks prior to this event so I had already decided my game plan would be to take it nice and easy on the first 11.5km running the flatter sections and walking the steep sections to conserve my energy levels.  I’m in no way fast on downhill running as I simply don’t have enough chance to run this type of terrain so I knew even on the downhill sections I still would not be fast.  I hoped to be steady and this was the case for the most part on the steepest downhill sections except for a 200-300m section that had quite large rocks where I felt safer walking.

There was a lot of mud to contend with adding to the challenge, and numerous streams to cross, with one at knee level.  Runners had to be aware of mountain bikers also on the course and I was pleased to be running rather than biking.  The brave bikers had amazing stamina to ride this course considering the steep climbing on sections of this course and there were a couple of bikers that I passed pushing their bikes up these.  They later rode past me as the terrain flattened out somewhat again.

It was really encouraging to get supportive remarks from the search and rescue volunteers dotted throughout the course of the marathon, especially at the halfway point where there was a rather large mud hole that I was able to avoid thanks to the very lovely SAR lady advising a way to the right to avoid the worst of it.

The final 10km was a lot flatter through the station’s winter feed crop but unfortunately straight into a headwind and I was feeling a bit over it by then so there was a lot more fast walking rather than SLOW jogging through parts of this.

The final 150m or so was a zig-zag downhill marked with orange tape and I was elated to finish to my name and number announced to those waiting for finishers in a time of 5 hours 58 minutes, just under 6 hours.  I wasn’t sure if I was hungry at this point until I ate possibly the best steak sandwich ever and settled down in the grass to cheer on other finishers.

Much to my surprise I was placed 2nd in the veteran women’s class and received a rather large chocolate bunny as my prize not to mention a fantastic spot prize of a Montane hooded rain jacket rounding up what turned out to be a great day for me!

– Barb Frost

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