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Hutt River Trail Events

The Hutt River Trail Events took place this past weekend, with 10km, 1/2, full marathon and 60km options. Lined up for the marathon was the always colourful Ross Steel from Tauranga. Ross, who raced 12 marathons in 2013, has been nice enough to write us the following on his 63rd marathon finish.
At the start line for the 8.30am start ( those who were looking to run under 5 hours)

At the start line for the 8.30am start ( those who were looking to run under 5 hours)

The air was brisk and fresh as I climbed out of Fi’s car at 7.00am on Saturday, 18th January at the Petone Rugby League Clubrooms at McEwan Park where registration was taking place for the Hutt River Trail Marathon. I had caught the Nakedbus from Tauranga down the day before, a 9 hour ride which at least allowed me some sleep. McEwan Park was also the finish line for all of the events, the ultra, the marathon, the half marathon and the 10km.

There was just one lady in charge of registration … and she very capable too. The marathon today had two start times, 7.30am for those who would take over 5 hours to complete the marathon and 8.30am for those who were anticipating to finish in under 5 hours. One race number and 4 safety pins, registration was over. All of the faces at registration were new to me … there were about 25 of us approx. who were looking to finish in under 5 hours. About 50 had entered the marathon with a variety of ages.
At 7.30am about 12 of us climber into a mini van for a lift to the start line, 42.195km away from the clubrooms. Sat beside Warren from South Africa on the van comparing notes about what running both of us had done in the past. He had, among others, the Commrades marathon under his belt back home in South Africa. The start line in Kaitoke which seemed way out in the sticks, but I did see Simon ( on crutches ) and Richard who I had met at previous events.
Just prior to us starting a couple of the leading 60km Ultra runners cruised through, already having run the first 18km of their event. A couple of quick photos for Facebook and we were away at 8.30am. Today was marathon number 63 for me and I just wanted to cruise it as I have my next marathon 2 weeks later in Tauranga. I started my watch started so I could record my time, with Ultimate Direction running vest was on my back with my supplies for the day.
Debra Arnold about to enter the tunnel

Debra Arnold about to enter the tunnel

A bit of metal track at the start, we were in the Rimutaka Mountains heading south for Petone, initially down an old railway incline. Chatted a bit to Debra Arnold, it was marathon number 100 and something for her. Into a tunnel of some 200 metres plus in length, the end of the tunnel was just a small white speck of light. Ran the first part of the tunnel then walked the balance until there was more light available to see where my feet were going. Came up alongside a lovely young American girl Maggie … it was her first marathon and she was very excited. Chatted for a while as you do … she has been in NZ for a year and loving it here. A little bit of bush and we were then onto tar seal. In front of Maggie and there was another young girl who decided it was OK to run on the white line in the middle of the road …. not a great idea. Whenever I could hear a car coming I would give her a loud “car” yell. Hmmm… Passed through a few aid stations where water was available …  always making sure to thank those at the aid stations and the marshalls as they have all given up their time today to support us.

Saying my farewells, I eased away from Maggie, running now on a mixture of trails and metal tracks. The next runner to catch up with was a lovely lady who like me, had a volume of events under her belt. We chatted, as you do … “I’m Ross and you are”?.  ”Duck” was the reply … yes, there was a story behind her name. A 2km bush trail section took us to Akatarawa from where we had another road section. Further down we crossed a suspension foot bridge, another Facebook photo that didn’t turn out … Grrrr.!!!!! Eventually we got onto the open metal tracks alongside the Hutt River …. and a head wind in our faces which stayed with us for quite a while during the run. The only consultation was that every runner got the same wind. Lots of people out walking their dogs today and there were dogs of all sizes and shapes. Ran some of the trails with Warren who I had sat with in the van to the start line and who was a number of years younger than me, so I suggested that he left me to it to pick up some pace to see if he could crack the 4 hour mark. We passed by the half marathoners who were about to start their event at 10.30am and got a high five from Mike Tennent who is in a year is looking to run 52 events of longer that 21km and is raising a whole heap of money for Hospice. Mike would later pass me a few km later … we chewed the fat for 5 minutes or so until he eased away … wishing him a great run as he left. Nice guy that Mike.!!!!
Ross at the finish

Ross at the finish

At Avalon we crossed the Kennedy-Good Bridge and then proceeded down the western side of the Hutt River. More open metal track and more head wind. My pace was slowing just a tad and both Debra and a lovely lady called Marion, who I have seen at various events over the years passed me. The last few km was past a golf course, through various streets of Petone, along the edge of the river estuary before popping out onto McEwan Park … it was great to see the finish line ahead of us. Ambled in to a 4.07 finish time … marathon number 63 tucked into the bag. Fi, a running mate who used to live in Tauranga, but now a resident of Wellington was at the finish line to greet me, with her two lovely children Hayley and Cameron. Warren finished ahead of me in 4.01 and from memory Duck and Maggie followed me in a little later. Always lovely to chat with those at the finish line to compare stories of the day. Maggie was beaming, she had her first marathon under her belt. Her boyfriend and family members were there to see her finish … actually they followed her from the start line offering her encouragement over the whole 42.195km. The running community is full of some very, very special and like minded people and it was great to share the day with some of them.

Weather for the day was cloudy which makes running a marathon a little easier with the sun poking it’s head out from time to time. The head wind was a pain, but that is life.
Roll on the next marathon.

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