Sunday, 19 October 2014

Southland Marathon - New Zealand

Race: Southland Marathon part of the Southland Festival of Running.
Distance: 26.2 miles (42k)
Location: Riverton to Invercargill
Country: New Zealand
Website: Here
Results: Here
Route Map: Here 

At that the Southland Marathon, I relearned a valuable lesson that I have forgotten many times. Don't enter a race that you have not trained for because you can't cheat a marathon. The opportunity to enter races abroad was too tempting to surpass so when I heard that the worlds oldest (arguably) and  one of the most southerly marathons was going to coincide with my visit to Southland on New Zealand's south island, I put my entry in.

On the way to Invercargill
Two months later I was standing on the start line looking a bit sheepish contemplating how far it was between Riverton and Invercargill along the road that we had driven along the previous day. The buzz of running in New Zealand was what kept me going during this race. I remember thinking that I would coast steadily to half way then endure the second half. In reality I was spent as I crossed the bridge out of Riverton a couple of miles into the event. My only training had been a crossing of the Tongariro Alpine pass a few weeks earlier.  I did manage to grind out the miles and avoid the temptation of retirement to the camper van which Tracy had manoeuvred into position at various points along the marathon course.    
NZ ultra legend Vajin Armstrong and I after the race.  

I finished via a lap of the indoor velodrome at Invercargill's sports stadium. Looking back, 6th position wasn't bad in a time of 3 hours 24 minutes. The presentation was quite a formal affair at a local hotel. I was able to meet the race winner and international ultra runner Vajin Armstrong.   A few days later we visited the exhibition dedicated to local running legend Derek Turnbull.  

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Porirua Parkrun

Race Route.
Race: Porirua Parkrun
Distance: 5 km
Race Results here

It seemed strange that my first foray into the park run scene should be at the other side of the world. We had travelled south through New Zealand's North island and we had a couple of days to wait before the crossing from Wellington to Picton on the south island. 

Always on the lookout for an international race experience,  I found a parkrun and a nearby spot to park the camper van for a few days. I caught the train to race start and arrived before anyone else, a little perplexed as to whether I had found the right place. This was a well oiled race, the organisers arrived about 40 minutes before race start and I met a host of friendly regular faces that seemed genuinely interested that I had chosen Porirua as my first park run. It made me feel further welcome when at the gathering before race start the organiser introduced me as a foreign visitor from the UK and I received a round of applause! 

Almost home in 2nd place. 

The race was out and back up a gradual incline to half way. I think I led the race for a while before a local overtook me and extended his lead. I was surprised to return down the incline in second position  in a time of 19 minutes 31 seconds, a time that I haven't managed to better at UK park runs since I've returned home. In hindsight I must have been fairly fit at this stage of my travel expedition. My first park run was a very enjoyable experience.