It isn't my first time out of the Shire but it is the first time I have been south of the equator. My nose did not bleed although my luggage made a different journey and was not with me for a few days. Landing in Queenstown on the south island of New Zealand was pretty epic. This place has more mountains than England has chip shops. Big ones too, while out for a pre breakfast run this morning I took a detour up a slope only to find that the top was higher than Snowdon. You really can have mountains for breakfast here (and bacon).
I am in New Zealand to get married to Gemma. She is from around here and is showing me around her wonderful homeland. There are snow capped mountains everywhere and all joined up by wonderful trails. You could run or cycle anywhere here. The lakes are so blue, like copper sulphate, caused by rock flour. The coffee could actually be the best in the world. The sun has not stopped shining, the lakes are warm. Last night was the first time I ever saw the milky way "form" in the sky, I lay on the ground and watched dots of light appear in the black sky while at the same time a fine band of starlight flour swept across it. Yes I like it here.
I hope Gemma got a similar feeling when I showed her my home town. Here on the left is the pork pie library and on the right is the infamous welcoming sign "You are now entering Leicester -nobbers "
While I am here though it would be rude not to squeeze in a run or two. Yesterday I ran around glaciers at the base of mount Cook, the highest peak in New Zealand. I felt a bit breathless, it may have been the altitude or the air or because I have not run on hills for a while. Today at lake pukaki I ran along the lake and then up Mount John, a peak of around 1000m. Within 20 minutes you can be at the top of a rolling Lord of the Rings set, cooled by a refreshing breezeas you catch your breath. At home I am about a 20 minute run from willesdon junction cooled by an industrial smog that I am trying not to breathe.
While I am here I will be doing two races. On Saturday I will run the motatapu marathon, a local race to Wanaka where I am staying. I have had my kit check (it is sneaky making you go to a sports store to get a kit check 2 days before a race, trying to get you to buy more stuff you dont need. I guess all big city marathons do the same with their expos). I managed to forget to put the foil blanket it. Not quite as bad as bringing two left running shoes. This is a hazard when you buy 6 pairs of the same shoe. It is also a hazard if you are an idiot.
In two weeks I'll be running the Northburn Station 100 mile race, it looks amazing and has 8000m of climbing. Check out some of the photos on this site. http://northburn100.co.nz/100miler/ "you don't race it, you survive it". I hope to survive it.
Anyhoo gotta go. There are loads of different beers here I need to try out before the wedding. Hard life.