The following is a guest post by The Mouth of the South
Many moons ago, maybe when the kiddies were smaller but probably before they existed, I subscribed
to Wilderness Magazine. www.wildernessmag.co.nz/ We did a bit of tramping at the time so the
stories and pictures were great for capturing the imagination. That lapsed and it was a pleasant
surprise to see a gift subscription arrive for my 40th. Thanks Heather and Andrew.
The 1st things that popped up in the new magazine was a stunning two page spread of Lake Angelus
in Nelson Lakes National Park. Sam was instantly drooling over it and demanding that we go and visit
that place. I couldn’t agree more. This was going to be great, the kids were going to have heaps to look
at and dream about. All good stuff for us to do as a family.
The 2nd issue came around and I was interested to see they had branched out into some trail running,
there had also been a floating around from Wilderness gauging the interest in a Trail Running
Mag. So I read it with enthusiasm having a run a few trails in intervening years and was somewhat
disappointed with the lack of research or effort to check that the information was correct. I’ve meet
most of the people talked to and they come from the full range of Trail Runners. Front, Middle, Back,
New, Old and organisers. One thing is for sure they all love getting out for a run, and some have an
extensive knowledge of the sport, so I’d like to think that a number of them were misquoted.
The article was titled Mud Sweat and Madness and a lot of it is based around the growth of runners
on the Hillary Trail in the Waitakere Ranges, Auckland. Now I’ll profess to not knowing much about
Auckland trail running having only ever run 503 laps of a 400m track there. So knowing whether the
information related to that is correct or not I have no idea. But I doubt that running the trails of the
Waitaks is a new phenomenon. And here’s where things went a little pear shaped with the article.
Trail running been around for donkey’s years as pointed out in the article. But neither is the use of the
term Trail Running, to describe Bush, Mountain or whatever you want to call it new either. Mal Law
was unfortunately quoted (let’s hope it’s a miss quote), saying the term may be only a couple of years
old, certainly less than 5 and was coined in the US. I beg to differ. Trail Runner mag has published, at
last count 81 issues, that alone makes it 7 years old and the term would have been around before they
turned it into a magazine.
Even in New Zealand the term was in existence as far back as the 1st Able Tasman Coastal Classic in
1994. It was described as a Trail Run Back then. 3 stalwarts/legends of the Wellington Ridge Runners
scene have run all the events since then, Colin Rolfe, Chris Gates and Owen Rouse. I’ve been lucky
enough to run and spend time with two of them. Now there’s a great way to get a history lesson. Same
goes for people like Mark Copeland who was involved in the original Ridge Runners set up and is now
involved in supporting the Tarawera Ultra’s. I remember picking his brain for information when The
Heaphy 1st came up as a race.
Is the sport becoming more popular? It certainly is in Auckland, The growth is phenomenal. But 2
Million People live above Taupo, so a small percentage of that is still a big number. I don’t think things
have changed a lot for the rest of the country. There have always been trail races floating around. They
came and they go, some like Kepler have finally reached icon status but it was always the case. 1st run
in 1987, it then struggled with declining numbers during the mid 90′s. Another misrepresentation of
the facts is the ability to have recently been able to just turn up on the day and run the Kepler. But for
as long as I’ve been running, it’s been a sell out within minutes of entries opening. In 2004 & 5 it was
still postal entries that filled within a day, since then it’s been on-line and only takes minutes.
Yesterday (entry day) I think was around 10-12 minutes. 2006 was possibly the only year you could
turn up and run, when on-line entries seemed to allow huge numbers of uncommitted runners to
enter at will and then withdraw at the last minute. The field was 50 short of capacity that year as
frustrated organisers were unable to find that many people from the wait list who had trained. 2011 went up because the cap was raised.
But what really gets my goat, is the Canadian Death Race. It’s 125km NOT MILES. There is no way the
head honcho at BCR will ever run 125 Miles.
Here’s a quote from someone social in the middle of the Pack. “I don’t want Trail Running to become
the next big thing. I don’t want it to be like cycling. I like the people who we hang out at races with
now. They like the trails for what they are, not because everyone else does.”
Looking forward to the next edition.
The Mouth from the South.
About our guest blogger- Outspoken and opinionated- which is great cause we never have to guess what is on his mind. “The Mouth of the South” started his love of trail running with a 8hr+ Kepler in 2004. Since then he has run 220+km in 24hr while representing New Zealand and now has 5hr50, top 10 finish to his name. You can follow him HERE on his personal blog