Thir Borland Run Camp – 2013


Borland Buster’s about to start from the South Arm.

The inaugural THIR Run Camp took place this past weekend, organised by Dwight Grieve and the Fiordland Athletic Club and supported by THIR and Horleys. Below Dwight gives us a run down on what was a memorable weekend in Fiordland.

How to sum up the 2013 Thir sponsored run camp at Borland lodge in Fiordland???? Hmmmmm – “This one time at run camp”…………… I met great people, run an amazing adventure and laughed LOTS!

The camp is all about runners getting together, sharing experiences and knowledge, hearing from expert speakers and running through an amazing part of NZ.

Friday started with people rolling in and a nice gentle group jog through a bush track near the camp as we got acquainted to each other, with people coming from Blenheim at the top of the south island to Wyndham near the bottom signing up for the weekend.

By 7pm the first speaker was ready to go with the “voice” of the Kepler challenge Noel Walker managing to give us some sage advice from his years as firstly a Kepler runner and in his better known role as the un PC race commentator standing at the Kepler finish line each year. Noel has an amazing memory and for every lesson told he has a tale to make you cringe, from the husband who ended up divorced shortly after forgetting to put his running mad wife’s entry into the Kepler race, to the runner who quit the race early only to have his mate drag him out of the motel shower and back to the track to finish it off!!!!!!!!!

Noel was followed by Ann Robbie from Sport Southland who was not only camp first aider but had a tough sports quiz lined up for us all with sections including “know your balls!!!!!” this quiz also included highly sort after prizes including Maurice Chevaliers CD “singing a happy song”, a “borrowed” Distinction hotel towel given to a policeman in residence for the weekend and a condom for a person who gave a horrible answer so he might not spread his genes to far. Great fun all around.

Saturday had a nice early start for the Borland Buster 42km runners – OK it was advertised as 46km but just like the Kepler challenge DOC measurements seem to be a bit wayward. Off to Lake Manapouri where Jimmy from Freestone backpackers carried us across the breath taking lake to the start of the run at South Arm, the 2 hour ride included a cuppa and choc bikkie to keep us going as we passed between towering mountains with sheer cliffs that fell hundreds of metres from mountain tops to the lake.

It was just on 10am as us “Busters” got under way after a group pow wow and photo, with much laughter and talk we set sail up the valley back towards the accommodation at Borland. At the same time the Borland “Grunters” also started from the lodge on their way to the saddle 16km away where they would turn around.

The weather started threateningly but as the day progressed it cleared nicely with sunburn being more of an issue than any risk of getting cold. The sandflys also played their part and stayed at home (mainly – it is Fiordland!!!!)

The two runs at the camp are NOT a race, but a run where you get to go as fast as you like or take all day long talking and taking photos. At one end of the field Tanya Dromgool had the foot down and was streaking along the Grebe valley making hills look like mere rises in the road and she managed to hit the lodge in 3:36 hours, a great effort and even though it is not a race hers is the official “time to beat” for next year. Not that far behind was Timaru’s Jayson Spittal coming in as first male.


Croydon and his unique running style

At the other end of the pack it wasn’t dust being left in our wake but laughter and trash talk, I was joined by Jan Taylor, Alex Senior and Croydon Paton as we made a more conservative approach to the day. I love racing but I equally love just running with great people, it was a blast and there are many photos and memories to prove it!!!!!!

The track travels right up the Grebe valley following the river through the ancient rainforest before starting to climb towards the saddle leaving you with views of the massive surrounding snow clad mountains and the amazing clearings and lakes on the valley floor. The track then turns away from the Grebe and takes you towards the saddle passing nearby forest encircled lakes before being confronted by the zig zags to the aid station where lollies, muesli bars and Horley drink and gels awaited.


The saddle leaves you standing in the shadow of nearby Mount Burns and views of the Grebe and Borland valleys. The Grunters have now met up with the Busters and started the long decent back to Borland lodge, the track winds its way downwards passing mountains, side valleys and the massive Manapouri power station power line towers. The towers currently being worked on with workers right on the top looking down at us thinking “are they crazy??????” while we stared back thinking “are they crazy??????”

The lodge arrived just in time as after 7:30 hours the last of us got in as the legs started to get tired, ahhhh a nice hard earned beer and catch up with all the crew

Alex with Upper Valley

Alex with Upper Valley

After tea we all relaxed and listened to national level coach Shaun Cantwell whose 45 minute speech turned into a riveting 90 minute education for us all, there is so much out there to learn on how to enjoy the sport of running and how to go faster if you wish. Shaun could have keep going all night with the depth of his knowledge barely touched, but we still had the pleasure to listen to Commonwealth silver medallist race walker Tony Sargisson.

Tony flew from Auckland just for the camp and to tell us how he went from club runner to silver medallist, he showed us how to think outside the square and the level of commitment required to reach the top – it was inspiring to listen to Tony and hold his medal itself.

8:30 the next morning we had a nice relaxing bush run to recover from the day before where the banter continued and experiences continued to be shared.

That only left a couple of hours where we all got to see a few photos including my photo collection titled “Dwights an idiot”  – amazing how timing at races can make you look silly. This was followed by a gear session where we all picked the eyes from each others gear and tried it all on to see what worked.

All in all the camp was a success with us all meeting some great keen runners of all ability’s, We enjoyed each others company while at the same time gaining knowledge from experts and each other.

A huge thanks must firstly go to the Fiordland athletic club and friends (that’s you Ann Robbie from Sport Southland) who made it happen and supplied the volunteers that kept us all safe. And of course the sponsors – Thir for making it so the camp was affordable and supplying a range of their great headwear to the campers – there were Thirs everywhere.  Horleys also took part and supplied sports drink and gels to keep us going throughout the day. The Borland lodge adventure and education trust own the lodge and provided a great location while at the same time keeping things affordable.

The last and biggest thanks goes to those who went to the camp – you are all just plan awesome people that make running the sport it is!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Look out next year!!!!!!!

Shop for THIR headwear HERE

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