My parents are staying for the school holidays, and so we left a day early to show them some sights on the way to Waihi. We drove around the Coromandel Peninsula stopping at a few beaches along the way:
|Hot Water Beach|
|Hot Water Beach|
The Trail Challenge has several options - I ran the Short Course, but there is also a Mid Course (13km), Long Course (19km), Marathon, and the Kaimai Killer Ultramarathon (60km) - something for everyone!
Oh yeah - I haven't mentioned that we have had relatively fine weather lately, but a band of rain decided to pass over the Karangahake area yesterday morning timed especially for the race. Minor details like this don't stop intrepid runners though! It wasn't cold or anything, just on and off rain to add to the atmosphere.
|Not sure what I am doing here, but look at that rain!|
|The starting lineup|
|That's me turning on my GPS, but I forgot to click start until well into the race|
|Happy so far!|
Soon we came to the first tunnel which was a lot of fun! I spent the next 200m stumbling around in the dark over rocks and puddles in stolen flashes of torchlight from other runners, cursing the fact that I hadn't bought my own torch! Thankfully I made it safely through to the other end, where the trail continued alongside the river. Soon I reached familiar ground, as we had visited this area at Christmastime - here are a few shots I took back then which gives you an idea of the terrain - just imagine rain instead of sunshine ;)
More running beside the river until the steep flight of stairs up to the tunnels of the Windows Walk. This area is a remnant of the gold-mining days, and you can look out the 'windows' cut out of the cliff face straight down to the gorge below - but no time for that today! This tunnel was a lot less rough, but there is a railway track which will trip you up if you're not careful. Soon after we descended to the drink station and turnaround point to retrace our route.
I felt pretty good the whole way, and overtook quite a few people. The trail is narrow, so I ran up behind them and just said excuse me if I wanted to pass, and thank you when they did. In the last third a girl settled in behind me and kept me on my toes - it was quite good actually as it stopped me from being lazy and walking! We had the same pace and I am sure she was following my footprints exactly - I could hear the same sounds being repeated behind me as we ran over the wet trail, rocks and puddles - splat, splat, slosh, splat, splat tap, tap, stomp, splat, etc - it kept me amused for a while! She passed me just before the last tunnel though.
Mmm - the last tunnel..... I was starting to tire and stumbled around quite a lot in the dark. There was less torchlight this time, and I held my arms out to feel the walls, trying not to think of what creepy-crawlies existed in the darkness! Footwork was complete guesswork, and you had to be prepared for potentially stumbling into a rock or plunging into a puddle for every step. This is quite hard on your back after a while, and good core muscles would have come in handy!
I made it though - but only just! At the end of the tunnel the roof was slightly lowered, and as I stood up to run out and try and keep up with the woman exiting in front of me, I slammed my head into the rock and nearly knocked myself out. I stumbled along for a minute wondering if I should stop, the woman ahead of me disappeared into the distance and there was no-one behind me to help. I came right eventually and carried on, although the swinging of the swing bridge made me a bit dizzy this time!
After coming out of the bush it was a quick scoot across some paddocks, a ditch, and a couple of stiles to the finish. I noticed DH with the camera at the end of this fenceline, and that gave me a little burst of energy to overtake the woman just behind me!
I'm glad he didn't get one of me crossing the last stile, as someone accidentally stood on my shoe heel and I nearly face planted. I was running so fast ;) at the end that DH didn't manage to get to the finish line in time for that Very Important Shot. I'm working on that major issue in our relationship.
Here I am after crossing the line in about 1 hour 23 mins, 19th out of 29 in my age group:
|Finished - and still smiling!|