This morning I woke to the hum of a fishing boat coming peacefully down the Dunedin harbour. I had just slept solidly in my own cosy bed.
Last night I was exhausted. I couldn’t remember my last sleep or bed or shower or meal or even what day it was.
Initially I was not going to go. My foot injury had already taken me out of the 6ft Track Marathon – Blue Mountains, Australia (which was cancelled in the last week due to high flooding rivers) and I had focused rehab at home with a fantastic support network at Physio Performance and the ABSolute gym to pump some weights at as well as the sunny outdoor pool to get my lungs burning.
But I couldn’t resist. I will admit it, I am intrigued to learn more about ultras – after saying ‘never’ I know.
Tarawera Ultra Marathon in Rotorua had an awesome international field joining the already strongNew Zealand entries. I had to watch this one unfold.
With a Salomon contingency of Matt Bixley and Mick Donges I was going to be kept busy, excited and nervous.
The fun started right away. Travelling up with a giggling Matt, meeting Paul Petch and even through the gps failure catching up with Tony Krupicka who had come from America to join in the fun. Playing security guard we camped on the start line on a still and stunning night.
Morning came quickly and the race was all go! Generally I am on the other side but it was nice to watch, a reminder of how awesome sport looks when it is done well.
Unfortunately Matt pulled up at about 35km with a lot of sciatic pain in his butt and made a brave and sensible call to finish while he was still in control. http://runlongergeek.wordpress.com. Matt and I plus Paul Petch from Outdoor Photography then trucked on to chase Mick down who had just broken up the pack and was now charging out at the front.
With 10km to go I joined Mick who was now 8minutes ahead of Vajin Armstrong to keep him going strong to the finish.
I felt privileged to be there with him and proud of his efforts. I watched, through his pain, his confidence and determination grow and develop with every stride to cross that 100th kilometre in 8.51hrs. This one I could see myself enjoying…
It was now a week before the Northburn100 – which Team Salomon were about to gate crash. But until then Tony, Mick and I decided to go get lost in the mountains of Queenstown and Te Anau. As we flew over the Remarkables – Queenstown I watched them both squirm in their seats like little boys. No care in the world for anything else other than getting on that mountain ridge.
As three cripples (Tony with shin pain, my caution for my foot and Mick’s beaten up legs from the 100km) we hit the direct vertical way up to the top…which happened to be through all the prickles! I was ecstatic. The sun was beating down on us. The chilled mountain air was swirling around us. The mountain was luring us higher and higher. Our excitement and contentment came out as hollers and shrieks. My heart and mind were at home here and I was with two others who I could sense were feeling the same. http://antonkrupicka.blogspot.co.nz/
We were now itching for more…and the Kepler – Te Anau was hot on Tony’s mind. The carpet like trail through the forest surprised us all and was frustrating to all of us that we could not just run.
Mick took the rest option on the lush beach while Tony and I trooped on to Mt Luxmore. We took the vertical option where I watched in awe Tony’s powerful legs, huge lungs, precise footing make a mountain goat look sluggish.
We were blessed with stunning summit weather and views before bombing it back down the scree to our campsite where amusing chat was to continue throughout the night.
It would be rude to not summit my favourite – Ben Lomond back in Queenstown. And again the mountain gods looked after us. Tony and Mick set off for the summit…leaving me for dead with painfully sore legs from the last 2 days of adventure. Fortunately they were both snap happy at the incredible views so I was able to puff my way onwards and upwards. That is true mountain running bliss. A dip in the freezingLakeWakatipu freshened us up and we said our ‘good journeys’ to Tony who was off on his New Balance media tour.
Mick and I headed for Cromwell where the Northburn100 and Team Salomon action was going to take place. Amongst the chaotic weather, people’s pain and exhaustion there were some special moments of camaraderie, sharing joy, new friendships and new challenges. At 2am on the next day round I was done…my eyes were glassed over and my brain was getting grumpy. I needed sleep and I had only been support crew. There would still be people out there for another whole day without sleep. I am amazed and realised there is much to teach my body about ultras. Some things I’m not sure if it is ready for!
It is amazing how close you get to people in a short time. When they understand. When they share the same passion. When you live, run, breathe, eat, sleep, hurt, laugh and rest in the same space. I am so fortunate to have a bunch of those people (you know who you are). I miss them incredibly when we don’t have the time together. I have been extremely fortunate for the love, life experience, highs and lows (and lectures) that each one of you have shared with me. You have allowed me to and have let me into a place that not everyone can go. That is special.
I ran in my home mountains today – Flagstaf to Swampy instead of packing and organising my last 4 days in Dunedin before I head toEurope and USA/Canada for the rest of the year racing and travelling.
I am excited to see some more of my special Salomon family next week in Greece for Advance Week (a week of prototypes and media).
I am excited to be racing again. I am excited to be travelling again to new places. But, this year it is feeling harder to leave all my beautiful friends and family here at home who I have had such a fun and fulfilling summer with.
Talk about every emotion running high…Frosty