Not much noise…

When things have gone quiet here it probably means there’s some other things brewing in the background….. Since bombing some training with the weasels it’s been full steam ahead with Godzone training…. and I’ve recently started a new job! So here is a quick summary of what’s gone on:

Just after New Year I was up in Reefton for some Mountain Biking with Hilary and Isla. It rained the entire time we were there, but there was a Mecca of bike trails in and around the area. It was really cool, not without drama however as Hilary managed have a bit of a crash and rip her arm open requiring me to pull out some first aid skills!

Riding in the rain

Nothing to do but stand around and take pictures

Not long after returning to Christchurch it was back out into the hills with Isla for some Coast to Coast training. We did the ‘double’ as it’s known, the run and paddle sections on a sunny Sunday before heading back to my old job the next day.

Two weeks back at Tait to tidy up and off I was to start the next week at Enphase Energy. A bit of a change but refreshing and something I probably needed to do to advance that part of my career.

In between switching jobs I also managed a Kayak run kayak mission with Flavio, Sam, Sam, and Sam. Across the harbour and up mt herbert return. Then a Bike/trek through Craigieburn with Georgia and Stru. Somehow in all of that I upgraded my Mountain Bike, planned an Orienteering course with Georgia on Quail Island (yes, logistically difficult) and… then did a quick trip down to Dunedin with Riki for Dad’s 65th birthday party…. I’m tired just from writing that all down…

Some gorge exploration in the Cragieburn area

Crazy summer sunset

Evening flight to Dunedin

New bike, thanks Cycleways!

Evening orienteering planning!

Waitangi weekend allowed for some team training  (not Isla… coast to coast tapering) where we bashed up a valley onto the tops, then followed a well warn path through a couple of passes in the dark. Since we were practically back to the car by that point we kept going. And were treated to the rear sight of an actual kiwi! Pretty exciting, but I guess not many people are fastpacking around in the hills at 2:30am.

Up high above Mt White bridge

Next weekend was Coast to Coast. I helped Isla as support crew which was fairly exciting as she did really well coming in 4th, very close behind 3rd!
Now its the final packing stages before GODZone. We have a few things left to do tomorrow then it’s all business. So look out for team 34 the Sneaky Weasel Gang!

Isla on her way down the Waimak in Coast to Coast

Second time, not so lucky…

Well actually luck doesn’t have much to do with it really, I was fairly well prepared for the Luxmore Grunt, I would say even better prepared than last year, but things just didn’t go quite the way I planned when it came to the race on Saturday. I was feeling ready when the time came to hit the start line and as expected Jack took off to the front. I followed at my own pace leading the charge of the chasing pack. I could tell after about 10 minutes into the race this group had reduced to just two behind me and by the time we hit the drink station Jack was barely within sight. Unfortunately for me, hitting the drink station is were things started to sour for me.

The stitch, an old friend that sometimes comes to visit, showed up. Funnily enough I only ever seem to battle with the stitch during running races but never during orienteering. Great, just before the hill and I was going to have to push through this rubbish. Usually when I get to a hill I feel like I can just pound away, eating it up one little chunk at a time, but today for some reason life was all just a bit harder. Jonah decided I was going to slow for him so he finally pulled out and passed me, and then away, while Ryan was still sitting right in behind me. Eventually 10 or so minutes into the climb I started to feel a bit stronger, the stitch was going away a bit and Ryan had dropped behind and from the brief glimpses I caught of him he was walking sections of the track. I forced myself to run all of the hill still with the hope of being in contact with the other two in front.

Into the open the wind was howling, it was tough work into the cold headwind up the final part of the climb. I managed to spot Jonah but no Jack as I hit the boardwalks. This is were it got pretty tricky to negotiate as the tail end Kepler runners were taking up most of the track and possibly didn’t hear me coming. Unfortunately running turned into a contact sport for a small majority, for which I apologise for now, if I brushed past anyone too vigorously.

When Jack came back on the return I could see he had a good lead, probably unattainable, Jonah however was closer. But the biggest fright for me was how close Ryan was now behind me at the turn. Running back down hill I went to put the accelerator down and there was just nothing there. The harder I pushed the more prevalent the stitch (which had evolved into stomach cramps) was and it was now clear I was in trouble. Ryan must have sensed this, he pulled out and went for it on a mission to run down Jack.

Left in no mans land I tried my very best to push through the pain, hoping that the by pushing through the bad I was going to get to some good but it just wasn’t happening. As well as the intense stomach pain, was the intense frustration of not being able to run as hard as I could down hill  I knew the gap was getting bigger and the pain wasn’t going away. I think maybe the stress of it all probably made it worse too and there was still 5.5km of flat to go….

It was a lonely, painful run back to the finish. All I could do was focus on getting to the end, which actually worked quite well at distracting me from the pain. I knew vaguely what time I was on target for and aimed to keep it under that two hour mark. I crossed the finish line 13 seconds under that mark, stayed around long enough to congratulate the winner and place getters then went to crawl under a rock….tail between my legs a bit. Jack ran a really good race to take out the race with the second fastest time ever, not too far off the legendary Phil Costly record of 1:52, Jonah took second place about 30 seconds faster than me last year and Ryan about 1 minute ahead of me. Really cool to see 4 of us go under the 2 hour mark, a club of only something like 13 members over the 29 times the race has been run. And now I have the illustrious title of the first person to go under two hours and not get on the podium!

Yeah...not quite satisfied...

Yeah…not quite satisfied…

After last year having a perfect or close to perfect race, I was keen to come back this year and be one of those challenging the records. I think I even said after last time round, more satisfying than winning was achieving my goal, which is not something I can say this time around. I was targeting this race for a long time and its frustrating not to deliver to what I believed my potential was. In hindsight I may have had this goal hijacked by the trip to China, and I peaked too early, and potentially picked up the stomach issues there as well. But these are all convenient excuses, and in reality so much comes down to what goes down on the day and I am happy that I at least tried my best, and didn’t give up either when the going got tough, and if anything I can walk away knowing that ready for the next race! (after a little break for summer of course)

Apart from my average race, I am super proud of Hilary, who had a really good race! She had a pretty rough time last year, and has come back from back surgery in March to smash her goal on the day at the Luxmore Grunt. She was targeting this race as a goal to return to running and to raise money for the Methven Care trust which you can read about it and donate here!

As always, thanks Bivouac Outdoor and Inov8 for supporting me!

Looking bac

Looking bac

Adventure in Zunyi

Late on a Sunday afternoon as I was out kayaking in the Estuary with Lara who was training for the World Adventure Racing Champs and I missed a phone call from Flavio. Damn better call him back… maybe I’d left something behind at his place the previous day?

Flavio cut to the chase pretty quickly: ” Would you like to come and race in China next month?”

There was no hesitation at all from me: “Yes! I’m definitely keen!!”

I would be lying if I said I hadn’t been hanging out to be invited to go to one of these adventure races in China. I had previously had to turn down one offer as it was really close to the World Mountain Running champs and in a relatively slack year (overseas racing wise) I was pretty keen for something adventurous to round out the year. This opportunity ticked that box!

In our team of four there was the experienced Flavio, Myself and two other China first timers, Julia Grant and Sam Bell. Flavio, I have raced with and against before, the other two however I had never really met before but I knew both of them were top class athletes in Ironman and Duathlon. The team strength had been built on a foundation of running strength so it sounded like we had the makings for a pretty strong team!

It was only in the airport late on a Wednesday Night we finally assembled as a team to travel over to China. The plane coming in was pretty late and this meant a pretty late get away time for us, 2am I think! The long flight was followed by a short connection and then a bus ride of around 5 hours to get us to Zunyi, South of Chongqing (in Central, sort of South East China).

After a good sleep we were ready to start getting ready ahead of the race, building bikes and preparing gear. Once the bikes were built up we took them out for a little ride on the city streets with a quick side trip to the local bike shop…. bike shop Number 1 turned out to be a pet shop and then Number 2 was gone so it was back to bike shop Number 3 to get a couple of the guys bent discs sorted out. Traffic on the city streets was an experience in itself, everyone tries to avoid hitting everyone else unlike New Zealand where everyone tries to follow the rules…

Day 1 of the race was upon us with the first stage of the race consisting of just a 30km Mountain Run. We thought we had things all sorted, meeting down at the bus on time, only to find we were missing our Bike Helmets-a strange rule in China that we had to follow even though we were only going to be running today! After some stressful moments going up and down elevators to collect our helmets we made it onto the bus, which left 20mins late anyway…

We arrived at the start with plenty of time to spare, although we were told to hurry and assemble in various places while they organised the opening ceremony. The cameras all came out from the crowd, everyone wanting their photos taken with us, the TV reporters asking questions and the obligatory drones buzzing around capturing it all on video. Finally after about an hour of this we were underway, jostling for position on the gentle uphill road run.

We stuck together as a team really well in all the chaos, then we hit the stairs China is so famous for. My first impression was that they were super slippery, and just about arsed over several times! As the stairs rose, the teams gradually seeded themselves, the Chinese out the front and us and a bunch of other Kiwis at the head of the main pack. The slippery uphill was followed by a bunch of slippery stairs down too, then some proper off track running in the cut bamboo forest…try not to slip over and skewer yourself! The legendary descent lived up to its reputation (this section had been a part of other races in the area previously) and was quite steep, muddy and slippery, my favorite part of the race!

A lake on day 1

A lake on day 1

This section was followed by some real running, and pretty much the make and break point for most of the teams. I think this is were our strength shone through as a team of strong runners we worked really well together and managed a consistent pace all the way to the finish. The last 2kms on the false flat road was an absolute slog feast however and I’m pretty sure everyone of us was happy to cross the finish line. Happy with our first race together as a team we finished in 5th place, about 20mins behind the first place team. Our split times showed just what we thought, we lost a all of our time on the up and technical running but maintained a good pace through the rest of the course, not losing any time at the end.

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Attending to the Media

Back at the hotel we prepared ourselves for Day 2. The next and final day was to be what I would call an actual adventure race, starting with a 2km run, 27km Mountain Bike, 2-3km Orienteering stage, 7km further Mountain Bike, Archery section, then a 21km “Pavement trails” run ending in town with a Building abseil and then a vertical ramp obstacle to get over before the finish line. I was pretty excited and looking forward to what lay ahead!

The start in Day 2 was slightly less chaotic as there was a no “Public race” runners with us today. Quickly the fast Chinese runners were off at high speed, while we stuck to our consistent pace attitude that was working well for us. Finally we transitioned to our bikes and got to work speeding through the little town, then grinding up the paved roads we had run down the previous day. We slotted nicely into 4th spot as we climbed the roads and eventually got onto a muddy trail for some “real” mountain biking! Here we gained quite a bit of distance on our rivals ahead, for a relatively inexperienced Mountain Biker Julia did a pretty good job. Eventually we caught the Chinese team in 3rd place, passed them and just when we thought we had seen the last of them they rallied and came back at us. There was a bit of jockeying for position, but in the end they managed to get a very small gap in front of us going into the orienteering section.

In a way this was tactical, it had occurred to me and maybe Flavio that if we were in transition together they may pick up on the fact that we could actually navigate and that they would be best just to follow us around. Things were going to plan just how we wanted it really until we rocked up to transition. We came through the gate expecting to find our gear bag but it was nowhere to be seen. After some stern words and some frantic backwards and forwards action, the shoes were on and I was about to step into my element!

I was fairly nervous about the orienteering section, there was a bit of pressure on me to perform, but as soon as I got that map in my hand I switched on and it was all go. Flavio described the look on my face like a little kid with a great big lollypop! I was so excited to be orienteering in a pretty cool area, an old medieval castle. There was lots of steps and quite a bit of route choice/room for errors. This played into our hands well as we caught and passed two of the Chinese teams ahead of us. I even caught a glimpse of the NZ team in the lead at one point, and had to ignore a mashall trying to point us in a less and efficient direction! To come back to the transition having made up ground was a thrill in itself, unfortunately they would let me keep the map at the end though.

Back on the bikes everyone in the team was feeling good. We had worked hard to get ourselves into a good position and things were looking good. The short bike to the Archery went pretty quickly, and then it was Sam’s turn to shine with the bow and arrow. The target looked fairly difficult to hit, slightly lower than the shooting spot and a good 30-40m away. Sam quickly took aim with his 5 arrows but unfortunately was unable to hit the target. Tough luck under pressure! This meant that we had an agonising wait of 10 minutes to serve out as our penalty. About 2mins into the wait Chinese team number 1 arrived, hit the target and were off. Then 8mins in another international team arrived, hitting the target just as we left the penalty box.

Having a bit of a rest may have been a blessing in disguise in someways as we were now eager to get out on those pavement trails to the finish. I was confident we could hold 3rd position at least, and maybe we could get closer to that Chinese team too which could mean 3rd place overall. I was still fizzing from the orienteering and took the tow rope on one of the steep hills, setting a solid pace. The tow rope was really good at keeping us altogether, cranking out the kilometers through the steep hill section.

Cruising up the hills, Julia is hidden perfectly behind FlavioCruising up the hills, Julia is hidden perfectly behind Flavio

Eventually it was time to go downhill, then uphill again, down some more and then up again! I’m pretty sure the elevation profile they showed us a the briefing did not have this much climb at the end. About 3.5 to 4 hours in our real strength started shine in the run, Julia was cranking along, with Flavio and I sharing the towing while Sam, even after his biggest run ever the day before still keeping pace. It was great, we were one big(?) unit, and didn’t even pause to take a breath when we went past the Chinese team in 2nd place. The morale lifted a notch when they dropped behind us and were out of sight.

On the final leg home

On the final leg home

Eventually the massively long bike path we had been following came to an end, descending into town. All along the bike path there was spectators videoing, watching, cheering but in town there was huge crowds of people lining the streets. It got me quite excited and an excited Tane corresponds to a fast running Tane, so probably a good thing I was the tow master at that point. As we made our way through town we approached the abseil, first we had to get to the top of the building, all crowds disappeared replaced by some concrete walls. And then Darkness as we hit the stairwell.

The auto lights had switched off, and it took movement to set them off so I lead the way using my hand as a guide on the wall. Memories of the Skytower Challenge came flooding back to me as I ran up the first two flights a bit fast, then settled down wondering just how many flights of stairs we had to go up. Thankfully the light from the top floor was shining through the stairwell about 5 stories up, signalling the top. Harnesses on and then it was business time. There was a frame overhanging the building and by the quick look I had it wasn’t too high but it still looked quite far down. I tried not to think too much, sorted my harness out and was ready. I abseiled in tandem with Julia who was initially sounding pretty terrified but once we were over the edge the terror disappeared and was replaced with enjoyment as we made our way to the ground and waited for the other two. Sam, as Flavio described him, was as white as a sheet before they edged out and hung over the edge!

Abseil done and another short run to the stadium to the end, but first one short obstacle to get over, the ramp and vertical wall. Sam and Flavio sprinted ahead straight for it, grabbed the ropes hanging down and pulled themselves up first time. Then it was our turn, I sprinted forward, grabbed rope then as I was pulling myself up got a massive attack of cramp, luckily Sam was able to give me a hand otherwise I think I might have fallen back. All up in a matter of a minute or two, and only 100 slippery meters to the finish.

We crossed the line together as we had raced all day in second place, an awesome team performance to end to a great race. For myself I had a really good time out there and I think they others were pretty happy too. To place second on Day 2 as well as finish comfortably in third place over the two days was just so satisfying especially from a bunch of first timers in China! We were rewarded with a trip to the podium, some prizes and some celebratory champagne spraying afterwards!

The Escaping wall!

The Escaping wall!

No time for too much rest once we were back at the hotel, the bikes needed to be cleaned and packed, key for getting back into NZ smoothly. Then it was back on the bus early the next morning, headed back to Chongqing where we had a few hours to have a look around. Some more waiting and shopping around in Guangzhou before the late night flight back home. The Biosecurity team was ready and waiting for us at the border, along with a camera crew from the Border Patrol TV program. They were fairly impressed with most of our gear, all but Julia who needed her bag vacuumed apparently, so watch this space we may make an appearance on TV sometime in the near future!

Team New World!

Team New World!

All told a pretty awesome trip, great team mates, really good time, great result, really keen to go back and do it all over again on another trip or two next year, but for now the next few months the “China” switch is set to off!

Special thanks to St Martins New World, Bivouac Outdoor, Inov8 Shoes

Mission Mt Somers Half 2016

A couple weeks ago I went for a training run around Mt Somers in preparation for this race with some good friends. It would be fair to say that the conditions were quite a contrast to what we experienced in the race last Saturday…. a Southerly front rolled on through on Friday night while we were all tucked up in bed and left us with a bit of a winter wonderland to race through.

The training run through the course was one of the first weekends in a while that I hadn’t been full on racing or training, and I was just starting to feel strong again, so I knew I was starting to get back into some good shape. I was confident, but also nervous which is a good sign heading into the race. Also the conditions played into my hands a little bit I felt, knowing that if the course was rougher it was going to suit me better. All this pre-race confidence will get yourself in a good place, but when you are standing there on the start line, there is little that you can do to prepare yourself for what everyone is about to do, so you just have to go out and do it!

Being single track and a reasonably steep incline to start with, I knew that if I could get a break on the field early I could stretch this out on the tough uphill and then further again on the technical descent. Straight of the start line, was one guy who rocketed out the front, smashing along at a horrendous pace. I slipped into second place just behind, wary of going too fast too early but also concerned that if I didn’t go with the leaders early then I might get quickly out of touch and my day would pretty much be over. As it turned out there was a little hesitation about 2mins in from the man in front and I squeezed past and into first place. From here I went with my plan to get up and away as fast as I could. The faster up the hill you can get I reckon the less painful it is and once you have crested that hill the gap in front can be deceptive enough to demoralise those behind you.

The first chance at a slight downhill, I allowed myself to glance back, the gap was a good minute, enough to relax a little bit before heading back up the hill. Then it was back to the game plan of ticking the legs over and grinding my way up the hill. It was at this point that it became evident how much snow there was going to be on the course and all that snow made for a pretty cold (but fast!) crossing of Woolshed creek!

On the way up to the saddle there was a couple of set of foot prints which made the steepest climb a little bit easier through the snow. Upon creasting the saddle I spotted the footprint makers, a couple of marshals, standing there looking quite cheery but a little cold. Just beyond them, and with a crazy view out onto the plains, the foot prints abruptly stopped. Everything in front of me was white and only the orange poles gave any indication as to how to follow the trail. The further into it, the deeper the snow got, right up to knee deep. Luckily the snow was still quite powdery and made for easy footing as I plowed my way through.  Not knowing quite where to put my feet made the descent quite tricky! In some places the wet snow had bunched up on the overhanging branches which meant I was getting covered in wet snow as I pushed my way through too. Despite all this it I was really enjoying it, blazing the trail, excited that I was treated to this snowy untouched trail (and partly ruining it for those following!) with just the most amazing conditions. I really did wish I had a camera, not that I would have had time to take any photos but its something that I wont forget for a very long time.

I was slammed back to reality coming down the ridge, almost panicking that I had taken a wrong turn, then before I knew it I was slipping and sliding in the trees, battling with some minor snow-blindness! The hut came up really fast, the trees got wetter and the descent got more intense. Here and on this section I was all alone, I was fairly confident no one would catch me now. I took a few “hot” lines, not super high risk but definitely pushed it to the edge. I was pretty proud of myself to only have one small section I walked, a steep muddy and slippery bank. At Dukes knob I knew I was making good time and had just over 5km to go once I was at the end of the track, but descending the slippery tree branches to the carpark slowed me down. By the time I hot the stairs I’d already calculated that a sub two hour run was more than likely not going to happen today, so the focus went back to winning, and running as strongly as possible.

Once into the carpark I found myself surrounded by runners on the 5 and 10km courses. It was nice to have a few people around again. I really enjoyed the cross country style finish up and down the foothills, I could definitely feel my strength coming through driving me up the hill. When it came time to start descending into the finish I was met with a bit of relief to be in sight of the finish, still just under two hours. Unfortunately with 1.5kms to go the 2 hour mark ticked over. However, I stuck to my guns, striving for a fast finish and crossed the finish just over 2.05, bang on target with my predicted time.

I had a much faster time than the winner last year in much more testing conditions, but definitely more epic, and highly enjoyable! This has to be one of my favorite Mountain Races to date! Bring on the Luxmore Grunt, I’m starting to feel ready and hungry to go fast!

Check out some photos!

Road Trip with the Girls

North of Nelson on the West Coast is a place I haven’t actually spent too much time exploring and I have been on the look out to go check it out sometime. Unfortunately for the El Equipo Spring Challenge Team (Lara, Georgia and Emily) they were down a regular support crew member as (Riki had shirked his responsibilities and gone to a stag party in Queenstown), so I jumped in, in his place. It wasn’t too hard to convince me, especially when bribed with a shuttle and the chance to ride the Rameka track on the way there!

Since I had to take a day of work I was pretty keen to maximise my “holiday” and headed away Thursday night with Matt and Lara. We camped overnight at Marble Hill which had not yet filled with Freedom campers for the season, and instead was awoken by “Tane, look out! the baby weka are going to attack your tent!”

Baby Weka!

Baby Weka!

We had a leisurely start to the day, a goat was sighted in the back of a car in Murchison and lunch at the Riwaka resurgence before jumping on our bikes at the top of Takaka Hill. Here we meet up with Rob who was going to ride alone but gladly joined with us. The track was very cool, heaps of fun, but almost a little bit challenging for a Hard tail. The Kennett brothers extension tracks were also a very exciting addition to the end of the ride. Some of the corners on one of the trails was a little bit much for me and had to walk a few. A slight navigational/land use issue caused by Matt sent us on an extra little road bash before we managed to find Lara. Our fun over for the day it was now time to do some serious work….

River just below the Riwaka Resurgence

River just below the Riwaka Resurgence

The Sunset after a brilliant activity day for Matt and I

The Sunset after a brilliant activity day for Matt and I

Its surprisingly easy to get up at 4am for a race as support crew, I guess having been on the other side of the coin before, you know what it feel like so to not have to be nervous and ready to fire it can be quite a lot less stressful…. however this did not mean that we could rest on our laurels, to get anything wrong in transition is something that no-one wants to have to face! The sunrise was not anything special unfortunately as rain was forecast later in the day. Not ideal for us standing around waiting at the transitions. The girls were pretty speedy off the raft and we had to be too, to pack up and move to the next transition. I think the support crew next to us was left a bit speechless and very impressed the speed and with our efforts in the whirlwind of activity.

The Devils Boots. The girls came through here on their bikes later in the day

The Devils Boots. The girls came through here on their bikes later in the day

Next transition the rain came, and by the time we got to the 3rd it was bucketing down. Luckily there was a reasonably covered spot at the cafe nearby we could hang out in. The final transition was a joint one with 6 hour teams and it was in a cow paddock, wet and very muddy! Nice to see the girls out going hard despite the average conditions however not too much fun for us, especially picking up the muddy (+ cow shit), wet bikes….

Along the beach and into the finish

Along the beach and into the finish

It was a close finish, to a see saw battle between three of the top teams. Unfortunately for Georgia, Lara and Emily they ended up just being edged out into second place by 54 seconds. Georgia’s race report is here. In the 6 hour race, Isla and Hilary had to also make a bit of a come back from the bike section and coincidentally finished in second place of their race, only a few minutes after the others.

I had itchy feet once we were back to the house, but since the race was over we were allowed to have our own little mission and headed out for a run, right out by Farewell Spit. It was a very cool desolate looking place, and the track runs right up along side some big cliff’s around Cape Farewell. Eventually it started to get quite dark and we cut back along the road just as it got dark and started to rain hard. Quite a unique end to a really cool little run.

It rained all night, and it was a bit of a mud pug at the prize giving tent. Faced with a long prize giving, and a long drive back to Christchurch, I was able to sneak out for another quick run along the beach, timed to perfection. I was pretty glad to have got out running when I did, because the entire drive home it was raining on and off!

Revenge of Cass Lagoon Saddle

Third time around, the last good training oppourtunity before Alice Springs and some excellent winter weather was forecast! Georgia, Sarah and I headed up towards Arthurs Pass on a frosty morning to do the Cass Lagoon Saddle loop. It was amazing weather up there, very cold and frosty which made the rocks a bit slippery. We managed to stay on the track most of the way this time too! Hamilton Hut was once again a brilliant place for a quick lunch break.

Calm day in the Arthurs Pass Mountains

Calm day in the Arthurs Pass Mountains

Frosty rocks and Icicles

Frosty rocks and Icicles

After the slog up the hill to the Cass Saddle I took off with the aim of running to the end and shuttling the car back before the others arrived. Last time I was pretty unlucky hitching a ride around, but having already paid the favour forward in the morning, first car was the first car that stopped! Great, timing as it allowed me to get back just as Sarah and Georgia finished. Another awesome day out in the hills!

The obligatory Hamilton Hut lunch stop

The obligatory Hamilton Hut lunch stop

Cass Saddle

Cass Saddle

 

Looping around the Crater

There is something quite cool about looping around the crater rim. Its not often that you can do such a big run right from home and get a ferry ride in midway too. Four of us were keen, so all four of us got up early on Saturday morning, and left from our homes, scattered at random intervals across the base of the Port hills. We set our aim for the 8:50am ferry from Lyttleton to Diamond Harbour, Georgia was the first to arrive at the terminal. I caught Greig along the track near Castle rock and ran together while Tim running a few further km’s across town was right on schedule to walk onto the ferry.

Sunrise above Castle Rock

Sunrise above Castle Rock

Cruising on the Diamond Harbour Ferry

Cruising on the Diamond Harbour Ferry

The ferry ride is always the highlight of travelling to Diamond Harbour, and it breaks the trip up a bit, but it was not long until we were all go once again on the other-side, the journey just beginning. Getting going again took a bit of work but surprisingly it didn’t take too long until we were into the clouds around Mt Herbert. A quick trip to the top for good measure was in order; there was no time for hanging around, it was windy and cold. The track around the back of Mt Bradley was in good condition, and the kilometers ticked on by and we were at the Packhorse before lunch.

Making our way up Mt Herbert

Making our way up Mt Herbert

There was time for a brief stop for a quick top up of water, some disgusting beef jerky from Tim and some delicious lollies from Georgia. The descent from the Packhorse was fast, and the accent of the road bash that is the “bastard” from Gebbies Pass was looming large. I was not looking forward to this bit, it was a long hard slog, and once at the top a relief to have it behind us. I hit a low patch after getting back onto the single tracks, I needed some sugar, sadly the only food I had left was some crackers. Luckily Georgia had some more lollies that gave me enough energy to kick myself back into action.

The backside of Mt Bradley with Georgia and Tim

The backside of Mt Bradley with Georgia and Tim

Around about the top of Kennedy’s bush it was time for Greig to peel off home, successfully completing his loop. Another couple of hill tops, a brief stop for water at Sign of the Kiwi, and by the time we got to the top of Bowenvale valley Georgia peeled off. Then Tim and myself continued on to Huntsbury Spur, with just the final push to home across the flats. Instead of my usual escape route home down St Martins road, Tim forced me around the river, just for a little bit of extra suffering and distance! Finally 6 and a half hours later  I walked in the door, leaving Tim to continue for another 5kms to get back to his house. A long but satisfying adventure all accessed from the relative ease of the front door.