Rebecca Mackay

Rebecca Run’s: Great Runs in Waikato, Coromandel and BoP

So as the weeks have gone by and I’ve become a famous inspirational blogger to runners that hate running (when does the internet start paying me for this btw?). I’ve found this blogging business to be a tough gig. Possibly tougher than running. Although most runners that hate running (or are on a running hiatas) would slap me for saying that. But it is! What do you write about week after week? The hating on running gets so boring – even for myself! I mean, just shut the truck up and get on with it! Although, in my defence, blogging about hating running is less boring than reading writing from runners that like to run (I read the first 2 pages of “Running with the Kenyans”. Yawn. Too many words. Too much enthusiasm. Too much travelling to a foreign country and waking up at 4 am to run with the fastest people on earth. Could anything be more boring?!).

Basically, I think blogging sucks because you have to think it through really. At least with running, you can get dropped off in Ōhope and you’ve just got to get back to your house in Whakatāne before it gets dark. The faster you do that, the sooner you can be drinking that nice cold bottle of wine you left in the fridge for motivation (which is incidentally also what you do to get you though a work day too). After 2km or so, I find I get into a rhythm and I just do it. But blogging…gah…I just don’t have that much to say! I’m less than 5 weeks out from the Toi’s Challenge and it’s just kind of head down, trying to get more kilometres on the clock because that’s meant to help right?

I guess famous running bloggers could review tracks that they run? Yes. That can be my angle this week.

  1. The Karangahake Rail Trail: Paeroa to Waikino. Distance: 12.5km Time it took me: 1hr, 20min   I think this track makes a pretty good attempt at accommodating shit runners. It’s flat. There’s always something happening – bends, bridges, tunnels, big rocks, farmland, trees, cows, a river to run beside (all of which are just gold to bored runners and 4 year-old boys [and girls] come to think of it) – and that makes for good distraction. From the pain. And from the prolonged time you spend in pain. I give it 4 stars out of 5 for runners that hate running. If you like running and you’re good at it, I don’t know what you could do.  Maybe sprint back and forth a few times? Whatever.
  2. Ngā Tapuwai o Toi: Distance: 18km. Time it took me: I’ve only run half so far – 1hr,20min   Toi is a pretty awesome mix of bush, beach, cliffs, the odd boardwalk, 97,000 stairs, and even a stretch of farmland. It’s partitioned out for some smaller but challenging walks for people that are shit at running, can’t be bothered that much, or are old (respectfully!). Like “The Birdwalk” where you can enjoy sweet birdsong for all of about 3 minutes before the blood pumping in your ears drowns it out and the sweat pouring into your eyes and behind your contact lenses leaves you blind, flailing about and tripping over some strategically placed roots. But Toi offers some pretty epic views (once you can see again) and some serene vegetational shade which you appreciate when you lay down and pray for death. And that’s because of those hills. If you survive them, those hills will stay with you. They will haunt you and be the lingering memory you have of traversing those paths. And that’s probably not fair to the old track. I mean there is some manageable terrain too. After those bastard hills… So maybe a 2.5/5 stars for this one. Just because it is unreasonably long, despite the beautiful places you get to see.
  3. Latham’s Track: Distance: God knows, I forgot to start the GPS watch, but about 7km. Time it took me: 1hr, 10min from Awakeri Hot Springs carpark and return along the road.     Latham’s Track is certainly a trail of two halves. The first, well, I wasn’t actually sure whether I was on the track or I was wondering around some dude’s farm. But I wasn’t mauled by a cow or shot by a farmer. I also enjoyed getting up close and personal with some of New Zealand’s most outstanding flora, that being gorse, blackberry bushes and cutty-grass. It was some other level of steep and about 20 minutes into it I was trying to recall my non-existant scout-training around survival. Then I remembered I had a phone, reception and Google. In saying that, when you consider how poorly marked the first half of the track is, I’d come with a survival kit that includes a locator beacon. Or at least a camel pack for hydration. Or a drink bottle if you’re cheap. Or just have a real big drink beforehand. But not too big or you’ll need to go toilet. And then have a waste-zero plan in place.

Second half, after the trig station and back to the road was lovely. I mean, I was going downhill, but it was lovely. Not too steep. Through bush and lush farmland. The only criticism I could make was the odd goat track that was narrow enough to catch a cankle but I was all good following these weeks of training.

Becs MackayI wish that was the end. But I ran a couple of kilometres back along the road to the Awakeri Hotpools carpark where my car was parked and that was a road safety nightmare. In future I will probably make the effort and fashion faux pas of wearing a high viz vest. And endeavour to organise a “wide load’ vehicle to accompany me. Just to be safe. Which even if you get into semantics is still applicable. And Sweet Jesus (I can say that because Jesus is my bro), I wish that was the end of the safety warnings, but on that stretch of road I was legit attacked by a magpie (photo evidence attached). You can’t make this stuff up. I wasn’t waring anything shiny so I’m just going to have to say it was my healthy head of hair that attracted the beast. But Geeze Louise…anyway my flailing around and screaming managed to also set off a stampede of dairy cows in the paddock next to me and I hoofed it from there to the car. The only thing worse than a dairy farmer coming at ya to give you a piece of his mind about his precious cows, is one that knows you work for Council (and in a small town you can never be sure). So maybe 2 out of 5 stars. But defo one I’ll do again if I’m looking for some adventure in my life. Or a near death experience.

4.  Wentworth Valley, Whangamata: Distance: 11km. Time it took me: 1hr,23min    Becs MackayI started my run at the beginning of  Wentworth Valley Road. 5km on partially unsealed road to the Coromandel Forest Park – just the right amount of dust from passing cars mingling with the sweat and sunblock dripping down your forehead to create a delightful paste for your eyeballs. Nice part of the country though, with some houses I’d be happy to inhabit (FOCUS BECS!). After that it was an easy bush track, well-compacted, beautiful. 3km up to a waterfall lookout and 3km back to the carpark. I can’t complain much about this one. I mean, I can. But I probably shouldn’t. It was fine. Doable. Pleasant, I guess, for a run. My biggest problem was actually that I’d forgotten my contact lens solution. So I had to run with my spectacles. Which ran down my nose with the assistance of the sweat also running down there. So I had the sweaty intellectual runner thing going on (that’s sexy, right?!). I’m not sure if it is [sexy], but maybe with some refinement there’s a future there for me. On the cover of a runner’s magazine as we break the glass ceilings of what female runners can look like. Or alternatively, as a librarian. Maybe that’s it. Anyway, I’ll go with 3.5 stars out of 5.

Anyway, those are my reviews, which you must take with a grain of salt because to be fair, every run is painful, mostly boring, and involves me desperately searching for a toilet at some point. There’s the aching and reluctant muscles, the burning lungs, the running snot, flushed face, the pulsing forehead/temple/eye/cheek area, the disappointing pelvic floor, and the buckets of sweat. So really, how good can any of these runs be? I meant they just can’t be. So it’s about making the best of a bad situation really. And from what little I know about running, it’s faster (not always, but mostly) than walking. Which means it ends sooner. So that’s why we do it.  

– Rebecca Mackay

Rebecca will be writing weekly as she continues her journey to achieving her goal of completing the 18km Tois Challenge. Check in next Tuesday for her next article.

Read Rebecca’s last article here:

Rebecca Run’s: Ups & Downs (and Tunnels Too)

And all her previous articles are stored here:

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