So far you’ve meet two of our UltrAspire Hillary Aspirers who will be sharing their lead up to The Hillary event on the 14th March. Today I introduce you to number 3 – probably the more experienced trail ultra runner of the bunch – Eugene Bingham
Here is Eugene’s application and we look forward to hearing his build up to the event.
I see you’re on the lookout for UltrAspire Hillary Aspirers in the lead-up to The Hillary race.
I wonder if you’d be kind enough to consider me. Here’s a recap of my background and why I’d love to be involved.
1. It would make me feel less like my career had been a misguided trip down a wrong track. Although I’ve been a journalist for 24 years, I’m actually just a failed sports reporter. Right now I’m working for TV3’s 3rd Degree programme as a producer – having previously spent 18 years at the NZ Herald covering everything from the Fiji coups to political machinations in the Beehive to the shipping round (honestly – there was a time when I could tell you the name, ETA and cargo of every ship arriving in Auckland, Tauranga and Whangarei…) – but the truth is I really started out wanting to be a sports reporter. I’ve never made it. At least this way I’d be writing about the sport I love.
2. Still, all that time working in print and TV newsrooms writing stuff and being yelled at on deadline has given an innate ability to, well…write stuff and meet deadlines…
3. I’ve actually already left millions of words lying around all the way from the Slip Track to the Te Henga Walkway. These bunches of words – I suppose you’d call them blogs – have gathered in my head during training runs over the years and I’ve never actually done anything with them so have left them behind along the way.
4. One of them was called: “What’s said on the trail, stays on the trail: Dad Jokes and Other Weird Stuff Runners Say”. At least that’s what it would have been called if I’d actually written it down. (The gist of it was about the jokes which seem insanely funny right before you realise you really need a gel and the chitter chatter which goes on during a training run with friends – an ode to friendship on the trails, if you really want to be fancy about it). Bout time I started writing some of that stuff down, I reckon.
5. Oh, and running, you ask? Yep, I’ve done a bit of that. Running is part of who I am and always has been. I remember jogging around the block behind my Dad from the time I was barely old enough to tie the laces on my Bata Bullets. Soon enough I was in road shoes and running marathons (ok, when I say “soon enough” I mean quite a long time after I’d learnt to tie my shoelaces, just in case you think my parents were some kind of deranged pushy parents).
6. Then I started hearing people talk about these crazy off-road runners and their ultra-distance ways. I was intrigued. Since then I’ve run a couple of off-road 50km events and, in 2013, the Tarawera Ultra – all goddamn 100 of the energy-sapping, toe-bruising, exhilarating kilometres of it. I’m going back to do it again this year. Real soon in fact – yikes!
7. Last year, I chickened out of running the 80km of the inaugural Hillary. I whooped and hollered my way from Piha to Muriwai instead. Every day I’m reminded of how much I loved that 34km run – cunning plan that was handing out fridge magnets instead of medals! So this year I intend to knock the whole bastard off.
8. If I can help spur anyone else on to do the same, it would be my absolute pleasure. I filmed a TV story about running Tarawera a few years ago and I still get people saying it inspired them to start running or to take up ultras. About time I started doing something else to encourage people to run.
9. I ran the Hillary unofficially in training two years ago. It remains the best day’s running I’ve ever done in my life. I couldn’t get over how lucky I was to be out there on the trail, to be soaking in so many incredible vistas, pushing myself physically and psychologically – and yet to still be in my hometown, Auckland.
10. Despite having been a runner for so long, I definitely qualify as a mid-packer. In all those years, I’ve only ever won one race. Ever. Ever, ever, ever. Not bitter about that, honest (here’s proof: to this day I’m still friends with the guy who beat me into second in every distance from 800m to the cross country throughout my entire secondary school running career). After school, I kept running but drifted well back in the fields of the races I entered. Until the day I managed to cross the line first in a 50km race at Riverhead. In truth, there were so few other people entered it should not count. But, hey, a win’s a win, right?!
11. And although I’ve scootered around road marathons in under three hours a couple of times, when it comes to off-road races I’m liable to be passed by grandmothers pushing prams. Seriously. (Just look up the results of the Speights West Coaster Marathon from late last year – no, it is not a misprint…I really did take more than six and a half hours.)
12. Importantly too, you should know I’m already an advocate of UltrAspire. Since taking up off-roads, I’ve used UltrAspire gear, including my trusty pack. Much like the unwritten blogs I’ve left lying along the Hillary Trail, I’ve sung the praises of UltrAspire all the way from Arataki to Muriwai already, and further afield too.
13. And what’s that you ask? What’s my level of commitment? Yes, there’s been the hours of training (nine hours in the heat setting out from Constable Road last Saturday, five hours starting at Cascades today). But I’ve also been on another mission.
14. Sometime last year I started growing a beard. And it’s kind of taken on a life of it’s own. So much so that I can’t bring myself to tame it until I cross the finish line of the The Hillary. I’ll admit it’s unwieldy and multi-hued (ginger and grey, perhaps?), but I just can’t trim it until we cross the finish line together. I knew you’d understand, oh Great Ginger Bearded One.