We asked Russell just why he was willing to change his life by doing all this training to run his first trail race at The Hillary Challenge. Here’s what he told us …
It’s done. I filled in all the mandatory fields, entered my credit card details and hit submit. I have a habit of biting off more than I can chew and although I was looking at the 34km event out of the corner of my eye, I managed to find a slither of common sense and entered the 16km to be my first foray into off-road running.
Am I looking forward to The Hillary? Bloody oats I am, although I probably won’t be feeling that way 4km in. There are probably two things that I’m really looking forward to and the course is the easy one to start with. We are lucky enough to have some incredible landscapes within arm’s reach and in my humble opinion we don’t get out there and enjoy them enough. The Bethells to Muriwai event takes in two amazing west coast beaches and spends 9km up a clifftop with stunning views up the coast. I don’t know any of that as a fact but the course description on The Hillary website certainly made it sound good.
The second thing is the challenge. For me running is not only a physical challenge but is as much if not more a mental challenge. The Hillary takes that up a little level though. We’re running off-road. The terrain is step. The surface is uneven and we can throw in some uncertainty from the weather for good measure. When your legs are screaming 10 minutes into a hill and you come around the corner to see more hill, that is when you are being challenged both mentally and physically. The challenge doesn’t stop there for me though. 90% of the effort and the challenge is the training. I’m reasonably conditioned to running on a treadmill or down the road but running off-road is another thing all together and so I’ve been putting a lot of thought into what I need to do differently to prepare myself for the event. But to the point, why am I looking forward to the challenge? I find it too easy to get caught up in the routine of daily life and without even realising it you fall into a pattern full of familiarity. Without challenge we cannot grow or move forwards. At the risk of sounding cheesy, pushing through a challenge makes me feel alive and there are few greater joys in life than overcoming a challenge. This is what I am looking forward to the most.
And what about a goal? Every runner needs a goal. I thought about this before I entered and I distilled it down to two key things. First is to run the entire way. No stopping (except briefly at aid stations to gasp for breath) and no walking. Second is to finish. Just finish. No first place or light speed time. I know that both or either of these may sound cliché but hear me out. By nature I like to give anything I commit to my best shot but my thinking is that if I’m going to punish myself not only for two hours in the event but the countless training runs up to the event – I want to enjoy it. I get to spend half a day away from the city, in the fresh air and outdoors taking in stunning views from a clifftop for the majority of the event – so my plan is to slow down a little and make sure I take all of that in. I want to make this event about the journey, not the destination – both on the day and in training.