When I left school I swore to myself I would never become a teacher. Now having amassed a fair bit of knowledge in the art of Navigation I found myself in a position where I know enough to be able to pass some of this on to others. So when I was asked by the organisers of a school fundraiser rogaine to come in and teach some some navigation to the kids at Kaikoura High School I jumped at the chance to help out, and give something back.
To make sure I was able to get up there during school time, I had to take the day off work. I managed to work it in with the Rogaine so it was a fairly pleasant drive up to Kaikoura on a Friday. The road was a quite interesting drive and a good opportunity to see the new road works going along the road there. Kaikoura registered the national high for the day at 21ºC, a nice warm autumn day… little did I know this was probably going to be the last day of Sun I was to see for a fair while!
I arrived at the school with enough time to be prepared but plenty of time to get nervous! Once I got into it and started talking about what I have lived and breathed for the best part of 15+ years it all came fairly naturally. Then before I knew it an hour had flown by and we were stopped by the school bell signalling the end of the day. Having no real idea about teaching, I had no idea whether the kids had learned anything useful, or whether I had explained it clearly enough for them to work it out. I was told afterwards I had a pretty captivated audience, and the principal even offered me a job!
After the School session I also ran an evening session for adults and anyone else that was keen, to make the most of my time! I had Tim and Nick who were going to race with me on Sunday come and join me to help out but as it was they left me in charge and added their own bits of wisdom every now which was pretty helpful. Another successful session down and I was happy with how it all went.
Bin Kennedy, who was the main organiser for the rogaine and the Navigation sessions went out of the way to look after us and arranged accommodation at the Anchor Inn and dinner at the Pier Hotel for us. I was fortunate enough to have a bit of time to kill between the Navigation session and an evening ride around the headland in, making the most of the daylight, Sun and the warm weather.
The next day, Nick had plans on a bit of an adventure on our bikes, however the rain had other plans for us, and we opted for a late-ish start and a visit to the supermarket for supplies. The adventure turned to Plan b when confidence on the achievability of Nick’s plan was cause for a veto. Then we found that the Waikene Lodge on the Inland Kaikoura road, where we were staying for Saturday night (also arranged by Bin!) was opposite blind saddle and near where we were planning on going biking. So we headed up there and checked in and dropped our cars off. As we were checking in we discovered that there was a number of trails around the farm that were all set up for Mountain Biking, perfect!
There was a bit of drizzle about, and more rain was forecast, so we headed out on our bikes as soon as we could. The tracks were quite interesting, mostly 4WD tracks, but still through some interesting terrain and probably perfect for riding in the rain. Once we reached the high point the rain decided to roll on in properly, so we started to get properly wet. Hoods up riding once again…. There was a steep descent into a small creek in there, that was so steep that I actually had a bit of a bail at the bottom. Whoops. There was even a small side trip up to a waterfall, which probably would have been a bit nicer on a sunny day. The trail out of there and back to the Lodge went by pretty quick with a lot of river crossings, so by the end of it we were a bit wet, and Tim and I at least were not too keen on going much further.
With an afternoon to fill and miserable weather outside we sat in the lodge by the fire and played an intense game of scrabble! The evening brought a few more of the event organisers and some more company for us, before we all headed off to bed ready for a wet 6 hours running around the hills the next day.
Morning came and of course it was still raining, and raining solidly. It was going to be a cold and wet day. Mentally I was prepared for it, or so I thought. The Rogaine started off well, just enough speed to get warmed up, and to stay warm to an extent, but about an hour in I was already wet right through. I started to fade a bit so Tim and Nick took charge up in front as I was left to drag the chain. We had planned a fairly ambitious plan, but we thought it was achievable to get them all, so linking the dots together on the ground had been an easy task. Executing was beginning to get a little bit harder.
About 2 and a half hours in I was starting to get irritated, I hadn’t been navigating, only just managing to keep up with the fresh legs of Tim and Nick, and starting to get cold as well as fully saturated. Water down the back of my neck was almost the last straw and I threw a bit of a tantrum. Nick and Tim were very calm and helpfully allowed me to continue on in my own little world for a bit. I just needed to be grumpy for a bit. The bit I choose to be grumpy was probably one of the most physical parts of the race, so there was a fair bit of internal suffering going on.
Once we hit the two hour to go mark, I was starting to perk back up, some food, and some Barkers at the Drink stop and I was back out of the grumpy zone. We were still on target at this point, still making good progress, so the next two hours was going to be telling. About 10mins later things were now not looking good, we had to make some calls on shortening our course. We did so, and I think we all felt a bit happier about it… although now Nick was showing some signs of slowing down.
The highlight of the race was now we got to go past the Monkey Face rock formations at a place called Tukutukuiwi. There were some pretty amazing limestone rock cliffs and caves in there, a shame almost that the course didn’t go in there! We hit our bail out point here, but things were not good with Nick, he had slowed down considerably, and was nursing his ankle quite a bit. Our cut down course had to be cut down further, plus we were looking likely we would finish up a bit early what’s more. I don’t think any of us were complaining about that too much!
The last few controls were pretty damn boggy and messy to get into, probably just as well we came back early! Having had to cut back our course we thought we had still done a good job to rack up a pretty decent score. Unfortunately as we found out later it hadn’t quite been enough, and we were out scored by some guys from up Nelson way, who sounded like they had had a good day out there. The Kaikoura High School guys put on a fantastic bbq afterwards with the best venison burgers I have ever had, and I had more than a few while I was at it too!
Special thanks have to go to Bin Kennedy for inviting me up to teach the kids and adults at the Kaikoura High School…. and of course for helping to arranging a great weekend for us, organising accomodation at the Anchor Inn, Food at the Pier Hotel and another night at the Waikene Lodge as well as baking all the organisers dinner on Saturday night!