LORDS OF THE OVAL RING – The 16TH Sri Chinmoy 6-12-24 hour NZ Championships 2013

By Dwight Grieve

One bright sunny Fiordland day towards the end of 2012 I was out running on the Kepler track and had a bright idea – I know why don’t I spend next year focusing on the NZ 24 hour champs!!!!!!!!

Roll on October 5th 2013, 6:30am wide awake in my motel staring at the ceiling thinking “why why why did I decide to do this?????” because I can I tell myself, because I can.

We got to Sovereign stadium before 8am well before the 9am start time and yarned to the organisers, fellow competitors and supporters trying to keep the nerves at bay. The timid 400 metre athletics track looking easier than the mountains I normally climb but I knew it was a completely different game with different challenges in store.

28 of us lined up for the 24 hour event with the 6 hour runners also starting with us. Quick introductions are given followed by a moments silence and we are off. I could give lap by lap accounts but lets face it 400m laps are just a little bit repetitive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Differing plans were evident with some going flat out while other went at a slow jog while myself along with some others used a run/walk plan, I personally was taking Matt Bixleys sage advice and was attempting to run 5 laps at 1:55 to 2:30 minute laps with a 3:30 to 4:00 minute walk – then repeat, then repeat, then repeat, then repeat, you get the jist of it.


24hr and 6hr start

First hour went fast as did the 2nd and 3rd and at the 4 hour mark we were turned around and allowed to go the other way, sounds like a small thing but it really does help, you do feel better for the change. This 400m circuit really wasn’t my trails stuff and the first of the pain was just starting to make an appearance, still very manageable and not affecting me at all.

This was when the Auckland heat started to turn it up, thank fully we had cloud cover for most of the day but the sun made a few appearances and the temperature still got up towards the 20 mark with a humidity that is not normal for Southland. Water in and over us become essential.

At 6 hours the “sprinters” finished their race with a couple of great people taking out line honours with Shannon Leigh-Litt showing her pedigree with 71km completed and for the men Micheal Dale taking out 64km and finishing with hugs, yells and overpowering enthusiasm, it was great to see. I also had personal happiness to see Rebecca Edgecombe get home with 55km behind her name, I only meet her the night before but she really falls straight into the “Lovely Ultra nutters” category.

Men's 6hr winner Mich

Men’s 6hr winner Michael Dale 

Meanwhile the rest of us went in circles. At the front of the race 3 people were shining out, Wayne Botha was attacking the track with bare feet having a crack at 2 world records, Wayne made me smile as I finally found another runner shorter than me he he he. Micheal Rodliffe was also trying to make a statement and was setting a great pace. For the women Kerrie Bremner was very solid and consistent, just going about her business and looking very relaxed.

Before the 9 hour mark Wayne Botha took his first world record for the day with the 100km time being smashed at about the 8:45 mark, smiles all around the track.

I got my turn about an hour later as I set the first official Southland 100km record at about the 9:47 mark. I now had a Southland record, weird feeling for a person that never considered myself special in any way.

Now the wheels started falling off, half way came and the race really started. The 12 hour competitors jumped on board and the sun went down with the lights in the stadium warming up. Even the Otago rugby team appeared and had a wee warm up in the middle of the track before they went off to take on the North harbour team later that night, a nice diversion, but I hate to think what they thought of us!!!!!!!!!.

I personally hit the big wall about now and the pain really started, this is where those I haven’t mentioned yet took over and saw me through. On the side lines I had Gary Hall who hadn’t just decided to sponsor me through his company GuttersolutioNZ but even flew up to be my support crew, I also had experienced Commonwealth Silver medallist race walker Tony Sargisson on board to help.

It now becomes hard to put everything in place and order as I turned to mush – seriously this thing was starting to hurt. I will just mention a few more memorable highlights that will last with me and are worth remembering.

  • Richard Wall and our on going discussion on beer brands – Lion red, slap yourself man
  • Tony and Garry sitting at our table drinking beer yelling “go Dwight your looking great and the beer is as well”
  • Fellow Southlander Will Styles succumbing to an on going foot injury – still managed 107km’s – 27km more than his previous best, a top effort
  • Simon Clendons rise from the dead, down so low then SMASHING the track up looking great
  • A panda!!!!!!! Yes nothing like a man in a panda suit appearing on the track at stupid O’clock to make you wonder if you have lost it – loved it
  • Poor Pip Speedy, Pip is another lovely person and she suffered with some serious pain but managed to keep going – tough
  • Support from mates via phone, I swear Croydon Paton in Dunedin didn’t go to bed at all, he text Garry all night long with messages of support, many were not able to be spoken out loud as many would be offended – we know what you meant Croydon you big fluffy soft hearted man you
  •  Ummm the music that resounded around the park everytime after I ate something, when I get tired in long runs I get very violent flatulence – I hereby apologise to all that suffered due to this, even though most laughed. I even heard Tony say “do it again next lap I want to record it as a ring tone” priceless ahh the memories (it’s a guy thing girls – nothing funnier than a fart)
  • My escape from nearly quitting – about 14 hours in I took a 30 minute break in the tent, very bad move just couldn’t get moving again, nearly vomiting and collapsing – Tony, Garry and Will without you three I would have stayed down.
  • Michael Rodliffe succumbing and having to pull off the track, only to appear for the last 2 hours – he had high hopes and is more than capable of achieving them

Right now to the last 4 hours, the last change of direction and the home stretch. Wayne was untouchable at the front, his running form and smile was unchanged from the first hour and for the women Kerrie Bremner was the same, the pair just looked so comfortable.


Dwight in full stride

Back behind things got more interesting, Douglas Kewley was in a solid 2nd 6km ahead of myself in 3rd and only 1km behind me Callum Wicks. At this point my heart went out to Douglas, he was suffering and walking on a lean before he just stopped, nearly fell over and had to really balance himself to stay in the game. Sadly he just couldn’t carry on and pulled out, it was a huge effort and safe to say he gave 110%.

This left Callum and myself the options of what to do now. Up until this point placing’s meant nothing to me it was all about keeping myself moving forward but I now realised the race for 2nd was on. 1km only 2.5 laps between us. We both stopped having breaks and just kept going, pushing our walking pace along until about an hour and a quarter to go where Callum threw the gauntlet down.

Away he went breaking away from me at a run that grew in strength, I tried to match him but the legs were just locked. Callum took one lap out of my lead and I started the math, too small a lead and too much time to go, Tony came to my aid and told me I was doing a fast run lap next time I crossed the line. I did it, anger got me moving, I smashed out a great lap only to have my heart broken by Callum who a mere lap later left me standing still as he flew by looking great!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was pure guts by him, he was suffering as much as I was and to do that was just outstanding. I must apologise to you Callum at this point I wasn’t exactly thinking to myself how great you were.

ANGER got me going, nearly a year of planning, a pile of money (well for myself and my family), my overwhelming support of friends and I just wasn’t going to give in!!!!!!!!! While I write this the whole thing is quite raw still and I managed to fight into a run that loosened the legs and I got up to a good pace.

1 solitary hour to go, only about 2 lap lead on Callum who also was still running strong, supporters appearing and cheering, finally the last hour. Fight fight fight, I gave it all and even ended up in tears as I fought to keep going. 20 minutes to go and I just couldn’t run anymore and the walk started again but Callum was in the same position. Over the start/finish with 30 seconds to go so broke into a run looking thing before near collapsing at the hooter, never never never have I fought so hard through so much pain.

Overall race leader Kerrie Bremner with 200km at 22hr15

Overall race winner Kerrie Bremner 

The Sri Chinmoy philosophy is about Self transcendence – pushing yourself, seeing what you can do, reaching beyond what you are capable of and proving you are capable of anything – mission completed, I think I found just a bit of that out there.

The overall winner on the day was Kerrie Bremner with 214km’s, she had been an ever consistent presence on the track quietly going about her business while giving words of wisdom as she went on her way, second female was Karen Chang with 179km and Patricia Stitchbury 3rd on 152km – Pip Speedy fought through to 4th on 143km, many of the highlights are not about the trophy’s.


Barefoot Wayne

For the men Wayne Botha was just amazing, the whole race he looked good, he is so happy and smiles all day long, his form was great to watch, bare foot 100km world record and the 24 hour barefoot world record at 211km, the first time anyone has broken 200km barefoot. See nice guys do get first sometimes.

I managed to crack 184.847km for my days effort with Callum only 2km behind. Callum you hurt me and it honestly made my race one to remember – thank you (See – I told you I was stupid)

Other highlights were  2 walkers in Cliff Harrison(164km) and Richard McChesney(162km) joining the centurion club by breaking 160km for walking. Super nice guy Simon Clendon(162km) also cracked the 100 mile mark after his rise from the dead while nice guy Lance Hunniford(164km) who is not in the spring chicken category any more made the day look easy.

The 12 hour runners had Caleb Koia-Hamling first in 102km followed by Peter Dalby (91km) and Tago Mharapara (80km). The 12 hour teams made us all feel so tired as they absolutely smashed the track up at blistering pace – BIC team 1st in 138km, Killer Dom and the kid in 120km for 2nd with the Sri Chinmoy marathon team 3rd in 115km.

The after effects are not pleasant as I couldn’t walk after the prize giving and had to be carried to the car and into bed, so much pain but this strong glow of having reached a goal – so many people will never understand why we do this, to put ourselves through so much for no evident tangible gain!!!!! What is not measured in set amount is the feeling of achievement and self-confidence gained along with friendships forged.

So 3 days after starting the race I sit and wonder if I have found my boundary’s?, have I found my limits?, have I done what I want? – Nope I’m an Ultra nutter remember, there always is another hill to climb and km to run. Can’t wait until I heal up a bit, hit the Kepler and get my next “bright” idea. Hey Will Styles I’ll let you know when it hits me.

A huge thanks to all that made the event happen from the amazing Sri Chinmoy team to those I have mentioned and those I missed mentioning – you all know who you are and know you are all “good buggers” that’s Southland talk for great people.

Southland Times story on Dwight

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