Trail Food - Blackbean chilli, sweetcorn salsa and guacamole in soft tacos

It is a truly filthy day here in West Auckland maybe not as cold as it has been, but the rain has been biblical. Not ideal timing, given that I was meeting up with Matt and the Riverhead Forest Trail Runners for a weekend long run.That said, the run was fantastic: There was 21k of gravel trail running goodness (albeit in the pouring rain) with a bunch of other runners, talking smack and enjoying the hell out of it. The positive side to a cold and wet run is that it's great when you finish, go have a hot shower, hotter coffee and get something to eat.

After Matt, Eugene, Tom, Dave, Gene and I finished up the DCMF loop in Riverhead, I went back out to make it up to 32k so I could reach my target for the week of 105k. It takes a little bit of willpower to do this, but I'm always pleased when I do.

I made it home to some blackbean chilli, sweetcorn relish and guacamole in soft tortillas*. I would have had it with a beer, but it was a bit early in the day. Either way, it'…

The Penny Drops

The Penny Drops.

It was at about 8pm the night before the Tarawera Ultra that realisation set in of what I had actually signed up for. I was going to run the longest distance I had ever attempted, over ground I had never seen, following a couple of days of persistent rain. To understand quite how I got here, you need to be aware that beer, credit cards and internet access are a dangerous mixture, especially when my brother-in-law Craig is egging me on to enter an event. It is not so much that he isn’t supportive (he is, incredibly so, as is the rest of my family) or that he bullies me in to things (he doesn’t) but he seems to operate a kind of subtle guerilla marketing campaign when he knows I want to do something, but maybe need a bit of a nudge. I finally hit the “submit” button at 7:01PM on 20th December.
“Hi Gareth, Thank you for your order. This email is confirmation of your purchase and is generated automatically by our online system.” I’m still surprised that it to…

Race Report: The 2016 Hillary Trail Run

Having signed up for The Hillary Trail Run nearly six months ago, it was finally my moment of truth and the moment of truth for the other 80 runners who had entered the full 50 mile / 80 kilometre race from Arataki to Muriwai. Whatever the result it was going to be one hell of a ride, and the day really did not disappoint.

My wonderful wife who has suffered through my adventures and tolerated my bad habit of obsessively pursuing dubious goals once again supported me through the race, starting off with dropping me off at Arataki Visitors' Centre on scenic drive at 05:35am on Saturday 27th February. After a trip to the bathroom and briefing by the ever-upbeat race director, Shaun Collins, I and the other runners trouped over to stand underneath the inflatable arch which marked the start. Sarah Hillary briefly addressed us and wished us well on our adventure, and we were off and running through the dark up in the Waitakere Ranges.

Arataki to Huia - Walk the hills
The actual start of t…


Race report to follow for my loyal readers; all 3 of you! In the meantime, I finished in 30th place, taking 13 hours and 13 minutes to complete the course.

Well chuffed.

If Jane Campion was a trail runner...

I'm really enjoying my training for this year's Hillary Trail race and had been planning to get out on Saturday for my second trial run of kit etc... but unfortunately an unplanned lie-in and my kids' desire to go to Motat put the kybosh on that idea. I've rescheduled to Monday, which is looking a bit cooler and less wet.

Still, I did manage to get out on the trail and go for a bit of a blast around Karekare. In total I did about 14k, most of which was spent running up Coman's Track, along Log Race Road to Piha Road and back; however I started off by walking up Zion Hill Track and then running down it at a reasonable pace. This descent is one of my favourites on the whole Hillary Trail because of its length, fairly non-technical nature and wonderful scenery.

As the weather was fairly miserable I had to have the SJCAM in its weatherproof holder, which is nearly soundproof so I was unable to narrate. Rather than just post a silent video I cast my mind around for a su…

HTR Trial Run #1: Kit OK. Nutrition OK. Can run a little. Can't navigate a clearly-marked trail I know well (apparently)

I had planned to go for a long run on Auckland Anniversary Day. While I ended up getting slightly more of an adventure than I had bargained for, it was a resounding success; I finished the day at Piha (having started at Arataki Visitors' Centre) absolutely knackered, utterly delighted and in relatively little pain. I learned a few lessons on my performance and my kit's performance along the way, and just as importantly I validated my initial race plan, which is now online.

The Run
I was joined by DB at Arataki Visitor's Centre at about 07:00 on Monday morning. He had responded to my advert on the HTR Facebook page and we were both gearing up for a bit of experimentation before the Hillary Trail Run at the end of the month. The basic plan was to try and simulate the first half of the race and run from Arataki to Piha (including the nature trail loop) with a view to checking target pace and kit, as well as getting some decent trail training k's in the bag. After introduct…

Kit checking

As you'll have seen from my advert on the Hillary Trail Runners Facebook page, I'm having a crack at the first half of the Hillary tomorrow. While this is at least partially just about getting in a really long run in, it's also a really good chance to rehearse my approach to eating and drinking while on the run and to check out the kit that I intend to use for the race.

Shoes (Innov8 TrailRoc 255s)SocksVery well worn and comfortable running shortsVestHat (keep sun off)Carry:
Camelbak (actually a biking hydration pack, but works for me)GelsPrezel sticksJelly beansGaribaldi biscuits (a.k.a. Fly cemeteries, squashed fly biscuits etc...)Rubbish bag (respect the land and don't leave your rubbish on it)Light water / windproof topPolypro topSpare t-shirtThin glovesFleece hatMedical kit, whistle and thermal blanket

The number 1 rule of ultras is try nothing new on race day. I've suffered badly with chafing before and I really don't want to suffer again, so I'm g…