Another dreadful day in paradise.
It was an early start, at 530 we were up before sunrise and getting our stuff together for the short drive to the middle of nowhere a few miles out of Wanaka. The start of the race was at Motatapu Station, well actually most of the race was within the same huge sheep farm. There was a delay in the start as one of the buses was late so we got an extra hour to enjoy the crisp warm morning and the insect bites.
Amongst the anouncements before the start were the call outs to the runners who had run all 8 previous Motatapu marathons as well as a mention of Gemma Greenwood who is getting married next week. He mentioned her website runningandstuff. It's not hers, yet. I guess she will get half of it next weekend. This is probably the most valuable thing I own and am a bit worried about handing half of it over. Will probably be made up by getting half her house.
Anyhoo, they also told the story of when Gemma was out here 3 years ago, not long after we started going out. She was running along the Wanaka skyline in her Serpie vest and a guy came up to her and said "Serpies, Serpentine from London right? Do you know James Adams?" One to tell the grandkids.
I was going to run with Gemma for this who has been having some ankle problems since a long run she did (and I did half off due to terrible man flu). Ben Cope was here to run the marathon really fast and Amy Cope was starting later in another race, the miners trail which was about 15k. The path was narrow at the start and we were run-walking the first few kilometers in the crowds. This was good as the terrain was hard going, tussocks and grass. Soon we spilled onto a dirt path and all started to seperate.
I really needed a wee early on and was not sure about the etiquette of doing so here. I know in the uk you just head off the track a little, in the USA you have to head miles off the track to avoid being seen. I know in Paris you stand at the side and piss in towards the crowd of runners. I just found an isolated bush.
The weather was kind, it was well over 30c yesterday and I stayed out in it too long and was feeling it today. It was cloudy to start but still warm and the sun came out eventually. We kept up a reasonable jogging pace throughout and Gemmas ankle was holding up well. There were at least 20 creek crossings.ni laughed at those who tried to tip toe over the early ones without getting wet, the later ones were knee deep however you went. In the heat they were really refreshing.
Around half way we started to get pased by the bikes, there was a mountian bike race too starting after us and they came flying past at great speed. We had to be careful about overtaking other runners as these guys were coming up behind us fast. They looked like they were working much harder going up the hills and through the rivers. We saw one biker fall over properly in the water, that was quite funny.
The secenery was amazing, not the rocky mountains that I have run inview of so far but really deep valleys. It could be somewhere in England or Ireland except all these peaks were twice as high. The sun came out and started to do its work and luckily I found a hat on the floor that I could use. We slowed to a walk later on and I suggested to Gemma we had a game of "pants, thong or commando". She wasn't up for it suprisingly. We got chatting to an old acquaintance of Gemma's who asked us whether this was our first marathon. Gemma said it was her 26th and that I had done over 100. He said wow, not the kind of "wow thats amazing" but more a "wow you look too fat to be even just doing this one".
The last 12k were pretty much all downhill which was great except that the bikes were coming thick and fast. We eventually crossed the line in around 520 which was great considering we feared we'd be walking most of it. Ben came 10th in 340 and Amy came 5th in her race.
The goody bag was quite good. A t shirt, water bottle, aftershave sample (wedding smell sorted) and a token for a free beer. Gemma could not drink hers so I had it for her. Thats the kind of awesome husband to be I am.
So that is my last race as a single man. My next race in 2 weeks I'll be carrying a ring around 100 miles of mountains. The Northburn 100 gets harder every time I look at it. It has a 48 hour cut off. The only 100 miler I know with that long is Hardrock. Shit.