Raglan Karioi Trail

Raglan Karioi Trail took place on the 14th December. A new race this year, the 25km race is over steep and rough terrain and you guessed it, Chris Morrissy was on the start line. Chris has, as always, had a solid year, placing top 3 in pretty much every thing and winning more than he has not. A massive thank you for all of Chris race reports this year!  “Last one for the year. PC wasn’t there so no photos this time. Have a merry Xmas and great new year.”

raglan karioi


A sample of the terrain on offer at the Raglan Karioi Trail

Last weekend I got the opportunity to run in the inaugural Raglan Karioi Trail race. My calf muscles had only just recovered from The Goat the previous weekend so I thought it would be a great end of season play on a hill that I haven’t been up before. Billed as “Not the longest but the steepest” I was quite intrigued. So up before sparrows fart I shot across to start on the southern side of Mount Karioi which towers 756 metres above Raglan. I became more intrigued when I over heard a few people talking about the ladders on the first ascent and the chains on the descent. The course was fairly straight forward… over the mountain, around a little bit, a small farm loop then back over up a different track to the top then down to the start/ finish. 25km and 1850 metres ascent and descent. Nice.
The morning was crisp, clear and looking as though it would be a warm one.  Reading that there would be two drink stations out on the course I decided to rely on the water out on the course but take a few gels with me to minimize weight. I know that I’m not much of a camel when comes to going without water but I decided to make a real effort to use the drink stations instead of just rushing past and hoping some of the water in the cup would hit the back of my throat. I was guessing that it would take around the 3 hour mark with so much climbing.
With over 60 on the start line and a few more at the half way point in teams it was a promising start for race director Francios Mazet.
The initial climb through the farm gradually steepened before we hit the bush line at about 1.5km in where I could no longer here anyone behind me. The ascent to the top was largely runnable with the exception of a few ladders. The views were amazing and the track to the summit was in great condition. After that the track turned into a whole lot of gnarly rooty muddy fun across the tops with steep descents added to the mix. To top it off the start of the main descent was a slippery muddy rock cliff with two sections of chains about 50 metres long. Another 5 degrees steeper and it would been worthy of abseiling equipment. Such fun!
Approaching the bottom of the chain and I heard Raglan local Tom Wellby at the top of the chain. I cruised on down the hill and gradually Tom caught up but seemed to be content to sit behind me. It stayed that way until we hit the road. I downed a gel and ran over to the drink station. After the first gulp from the cup I heard Tom race offf down the road with a bottle in his hand thanks to his supporter. Reacting to the pressure I dropped my cup and immediately gave chase. A few seconds later when I was still  thirsty I regretted it.
I eventually caught up with Tom down the road, we had a two word conversation and I put in a little surge up the hill to make a bit of a break by the time I got to the farm loop. Reduced to a walk as the hills got steeper my lead grew. Approaching the top however I missed an arrow and headed across the paddock following the tyre marks through the long grass. Realizing the mistake I began heading back as Tom called back to the last marshal to ask for directions. By the time I had back tracked to the point where I went wrong we were all tied up again. We barreled down the hill back to the road. By this time I was pretty keen to see the next drink station before we hit he biggest climb of the day, back to the top of Mt Karioi. A wasp sting to the forehead took my mind off my thirst for a short time but it didnt do much for my energy levels. The drink station at the Karioi Lodge was a welcome sight. I made sure I had a descent drink this time with no sign of Tom behind me.
The day was heating up but the rest of the course was under bush cover which was some relief. More walking than running was going on at this stage and by the time I met up with marshal at the top with 5 km to go, the offer of a bottle of water seemed like all my Christmas’ had come at once. The down hill was great fun under no pressure. Through the farmland and after a purposeful route through the deep part of the stream crossing and it was all over in 3:15:22. Consistent performer Stephan Wagner came through for second 10 minutes later with Tom Wellby fading to third by 50 seconds on the final downhill. Kovo Kowalewski backed up her win at the 60km Taniwha, winning the woman’s race in 3:44.
The slow times for 25 km is a good indication that the course is not just steep, but technical as well. If you’re looking for a pre Christmas hit out to burn off a few calories that will inevitably be replaced then this is the race for you. Amazing scenery, fun technical tracks and a well put together race.  Race director Francois Mazet is also talking about a smaller version for the kids next year.
Thanks again to Karhu Shoes for getting me through another race. Time for a few weeks off to get fat then start again next year with a few new adventures up my sleeve with the new Karhu Flow Trail on my feet.

Raglan Karioi Trail Full Results

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