With all our collective training hours behind us it was now time to go for a lovely wee run along the Hillary trail with over five hundred of like (out of their) minded individuals. Oh and what a wee run it turned out to be.
Who would have believed it had been nearly 3 months since I made the call and committed to entering the Hillary. What seemed like would be a huge amount of time was quickly whittled down to mere hours.
The week before had been pretty busy for me, which was both a blessing and a curse. I’d been too distracted to get overly nervous about the race and what was in store, but on the flip side I hadn’t been able to get out for much in the way of a run. The weekend before about 20 of us attended the Pre Hillary Yög put on by Tim and Arlette from Icebug and CEP, for what was meant to be an “easy” tapering run. But good old Slip track killed my thighs, effectively confining me to the ground floor at work as the stairs were unclimbable (my office is of course on the 2nd floor).
Come the morning of the race I awoke at 7 and saw on Facebook that the 80km nutters had started and so in support of them I went back to sleep, #sorrynotsorry. That was until my phone lit up with messages from friends and family; “Have you seen the Herald today?” I knew the article was coming but didn’t realise it would focus almost solely on me, so needless to say there was a degree of embarrassment – Thanks Vicki. Which was not helped by finding a copy stuck to the wall at work that Monday.
After a morning of not doing much (all the while knowing some of you were out there running), it was time to head to Bethels for my start. It was great seeing everyone ready to go and cheering on the longer distance runners as they came through. With a countdown we were off and as we went uphill things started to go downhill for me. I’m not going to bore you with too much of a blow by blow as it’s pretty much me struggling for 3.5 hours, rather some highlights.
It was definitely a run of extremes from blistering heat, to the remains of a cyclone, and the jury is still out on which one was worse. The heat really got to me, as I’m sure it did to most; highlighted by the small clusters of runners huddled under any shade that they happened across. I’d heard that it would be a killer and it was for me. From about 4km my head was swimming a bit and there was a lovely nauseous undertone. Looking back I don’t think I drunk enough water, so pretty much my fault there but something to work on.
Whist I had water but forgot to drink it, I came across a gentleman that had run out and was struggling. In what I have come to recognise as the trail running spirit, complete strangers stopped and topped up his bottle from our own backs. With 80km of trail only afterwards does one hear of the other selfless acts that occurred. Such as Laurie Wilson, who put her race on hold for hours to help a fallen comrade. Only to then, in a cruel twist of fate, end up caught in a slip she otherwise would have cleared by hours. But then enter one Hamish Johnstone to do his bit and in turn rescue Laurie. There are undoubtedly hundreds more stories, maybe not as dramatic, of runners doing things as simple as a few words of encouragement, offering a hand to someone that’s tripped, or staying with your struggling mate (cheers Lee).
We were just about to begin our assent of the great equalizer that is the Contestable Road Stairs when the rain caught up with us. Lucky stars were thanked for the respite from the heat, the fact we were off the trail, and that there was the Hawaiian Hula aid station beckoning us onwards. Which despite no longer being so tropical was a welcome sight.
From here it was all new for me and I was glad the rain had killed the heat from the black top. The lovely downhill section to the gannet colony had me in pretty good spirits, which were further lifted when, lo and behold, I was met by my mates Graeme and Dale. They had braved the wet to bring me the last few km’s home. Turned out they’d also dragged their families along. Coming up the hill by the surf club I saw my family waiting as well, and they joined me as we crossed the line together. Tired and spent, I’d finished, about 30 minutes slower than I’d hoped but still stoked to have finished.
During the race I was certainly questioning my sanity for participating but as is so often the way, upon completion I realised that I’d just done something pretty damn awesome. Ok, make that a few days later once I’d recovered. I will certainly be entering again next year, and maybe, just maybe there is even a chance of giving the 34km a crack. Well that will depend on if I can hit my goals throughout the year and I don’t realise how crazy idea that sounds.
A huge thank you must go to the Lactic Turkey team, medics, and all the volunteers for making it such an awesome day. I haven’t done a lot of running races, but based on the few that I have the atmosphere that you guys created was something special. It was less like a race we’d paid to enter and more like a “fun” social day you guys were putting on for mates – relaxed but you knew everything was under control. Just a shame about the rain, but then that does add something to the story of the 2016 Hillary.
So I guess this is my last blog as an Inspirer and it is a little bittersweet. I have really enjoyed the role; telling my story, sharing experiences and hopefully convincing you to buy Icebugs and CEP gear (pay my commission anytime Tim). It’s been great to get your feedback and to meet a few of you, knowing that people were enjoying my blogs is awesome. I hope that I have inspired a few of you to push for loftier goals, even if that is just to do more, I know I’ll be.
So rather than dispense any more advice, I shall spout forth words of encouragement with a liberal sprinkling of clichés:
- As you crawl up that hill, a little finish line waits, as you tumble down the other side, a little finish line waits, and hopes that you make the cut off.
- Know that you won’t be suffering alone, elsewhere there will be someone else in pain. Take solace in that you’re now pain buddies bonded by burning lungs and legs.
- Enjoy every horrible minute. At the end of the day you’re doing something with your life.
And of course:
Good luck for your running, and I’ll see some of you along the way or recovering at the end.