Wild Turkey vs NIMBY’s

LTEShaun Collins (Lactic Turkey Events), like a lot of others is passionate about sharing his playground. He’s turned that into a fantastic and diverse business making opportunities for people to get out, play, explore, test and push their boundaries. He’s been doing that for some 15 years, with the Wild Turkey Half Marathon and 15 km event running for the last 10 years and a concession for a few more.

In January 2010 the Hillary Trail in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park was opened. It’s approximately 75km agglomeration of existing trails that were re-cut and developed between 2005 and 2009 as a suitable memorial to Sir Ed whose family had extensive links to the area from the early 1900’s. The Auckland Regional Council (ARC) “…..sees the creation of the Hillary Trail as an important legacy for the people of Auckland and NEW ZEALAND”. Highlight and emphasis added. I fully agree with that statement it has certainly opened my myopic eyes to the possibility of fun on the trails in Auckland. As soon as the trail was opened it has been seen as a challenge to run in a day. As soon as it was opened it was run, Shaun himself leading the charge from the Arataki end with Gus Grey and Nick Harris from the Muriwai end. Sam Manson holds the current Fastest Known Time (FKT) at 9hrs 9mins.

As long as it has been run there have been discussions about a race on the trail. Who better to persue that opportunity than Shaun? Lactic Turkeys Events already held a concession for the Wild Turkey Half Marathon. It allowed 300 runners to explore a loop based at Whatipu that uses part of the Trail. Shaun was prepared to give up that concession in exchange for lesser numbers to run the trail. So he began the consents process, complicated by valid concerns of a disease that is killing large tracts of Kauri Forest. In short Kauri dieback or PTA (Phytophthora agathis) is a fungus like disease that affects only Kauri in this country, although similar problem occur in other countries. The trails and bush around Adelaide where the Yurrebilla Trail race is conducted are also affected by the disease.

As with other Biological pests (eg Rock Snot) minimizing the affect that humans have on transmitting the disease is uppermost in conservators minds. So DOC and other agencies were pleased with the plans that Shaun had in place and gave the event the go ahead. There were some members of the public who were anti the whole event regardless of any disease. In public consultation they were adamant that the park shouldn’t be promoted for trail running or for people outside of Auckland. Make that one reason for me to want to go.

So with all the “I’s” crossed and the “t’s” dotted relevant approvals, the council said No. With no reason given. Mark up reason number two for me wanting to come. The logic of a run with 130 participants in place of one that allowed 300 is beyond me. So Shaun reinstated his permitted event, added a marathon and sent out invites and I was instantly hooked. I actually had no great desire to run the Hillary, I felt it was best left as a FKT style trail. But nothing annoys me more than the ignorance of NIMBY’s and Politicians acting with closed minds and personal agendas.

So here I come, to stick it to the Council and stick to the NIMBY who doesn’t want me to visit “their” park. I am almost certainly going to find new and interesting things and shock horror, promote the place to anyone who asks where they should run.

Grant is actually expecting some sort of race preview. Shaun has been a bit busy and all I got from him was that Chris “heads in a bag” Morrissey and I are running the marathon. James Kuegler and Tom Reynolds are running the Half. So predictions will be easy.

Chris Morrissey followed by some people that Shaun didn’t tell me about and then me. I actually asked if Chris would get lost. Probably not as he has run the event 9 of the 10 times previously held, and the one he missed was car trouble (I live in hope).

Half Marathon
Tom Reynolds vs James Kuegler, Tom will take that out, he’s good, mostly because he runs with maps. James may line up in the marathon anyway. He has kindly offered accommodation and airport transfers for me and was a bit shocked we have to be at the marathon start before 7:30am.

The outcome of this race is insignificant to me, it’s about supporting Lactic Turkey, Shaun and the trail runners of Auckland and the Kauri. Left is what an 85year old Kauri looks like. My Grandmother took this as a seedling from Kaeo in the 1930’s and planted it at Twyford School in the Hawkes Bay.

About Mouth of the South

Matt Bixley has written 24 .

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

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