8 hours on a 3km loop track starting at 10pm as a fundraiser for Mal Law’s High 5O? It took about a second to hit the link and get in my entry. This did also support my theory that Mal’s mental health cause may be closer to home than I thought, a standard 10km run would have sparked interest but the whole overnight ultra idea was an instant must.

Just to add to the interest the organising crew – the Tecofsky family (and friends) started a quickest lap challenge. So come Xmas day Lee the kids and myself paid a visit to the track for a look and a lap or two. Just the day before Chris Thrupp has posted the new fastest time and I was a happy man to knock out a new record of 12:04 – at least you got the record for one day Chris!!!
It was to turn out to be another short lived record as well as on New years day some newbie by the name of Grant Guise arrived and whacked out an 11:42.

These times may have indicated an easy 3km loop for the 8 hour main race on the 17th of January but it is a deceptively tough wee track with around 90 – 100m vertical gain per lap. It starts in the track car park down a short drop into the forest clad track and then there is about 1km of honest climb gaining about 80m before a flat burst across a water race. From there you turn off the water race and through two short down and up’s where you then join the main track you run up for about an 800m decent and return to the start. The whole track based in the Longwoods forest that is the site of historic gold mining that was the biggest Chinese settlement in NZ in it’s day.

D2DCome race day 30 runners toed the line including running legends Jim Kerse and Lesley Stevens, it was amazing to have runners of their accomplishments there with us. The day building up had been a weird one, how does one prepare to stay up all night? When 10pm hits I normally would be looking for bed not my running shoes!. The hours building up were not good with constant heavy rain, things were looking bad but only a couple of hours before the start the clouds went away and things had a chance to dry out
Temperatures were still good for the start and most runners were happy in shorts and tee shirts with maybe an extra top layer, perfect running conditions apart from parts of the track getting just a bit muddy from the rain

From the start a group of 4 of us went to the front, I was in for the whole 8 hours but behind me Grant Guise and Scott Underhay were only in for a training run of 1.5 and 3 hours respectively. The 4th man in the pack was Adam Keen, I hadn’t meet Adam before but a google the day before had him as a man I had to watch, I wish I did less watching and more talking as it wasn’t until two hours later that we introduced ourselves and he let me know he was pulling out at 3 hours as well, dammit I could have slowed a bit earlier

For starters there was a bit of congestion at times but as we went along we all got into the groove and worked out the best ways to pass each other in the dark

As the night wore on more people pulled the pin after many of them having their first ever go at running by headlight and to be honest all can be proud of stepping out of their comfort zones and having a crack

By the 4 hour mark the bbq which was supplying copious amounts of wild venison, whitebait and Southland lamb to all and the huddle of runners started to get bigger and the breaks between laps longer – I personally was focused on my own goals but many times wished I could just stop and have a yarn with the others, the real highlight of the event was the ultra-comradery. This was the first event where I have seen lazy boys at the start/finish line, a great idea and something that is to be encouraged by other race organisers

By this stage I was now running by myself with Glen MacIntosh and Marty Knowler keeping me honest not that far behind
In the womens race it was Miriam Beilski and Nessa Legg leading the way in style, for HOURS I knew I was coming across the pair as they loudly talked the night away, I think they only got a bit tired and quieter at the 6 hour mark

By 7 hours everyone started to shrug off the tiredness and gain a new lease on life as the dawn started to appear on the horizon and our friendly morepork that had been hooting all night decided to go to bed
Personally the tiredness and pain faded and the last hour turned into my most enjoyable, there is something about the buzz you get when you finish a tough ultra marathon, and tough this had proved, the legs had been well and truly drained with the constant climbing and descending, the short flat section a welcome relief when you were on it

The 7 hour mark also bought out the sponsors from the Colac bay tavern who bought out the finish line beer, the poor people had a big night the night before with a shearing competition at the pub but still made the effort to join us, even if they did loudly proclaim we were all nuts, I think they only arrived to laugh at us and have some of the whitebait and venison that was still flying off the bbq

With the 6am finish looming the madness took over and I decided on one more lap – smashing myself out for a 15:38 lap my fastest for the night by far – and also being lap 23 for the night, one short of my minimum goal, but due to some really bad stomach issues in the middle section of the night that cause some unpleasant visits to the long drop I was still happy enough.

Glen MacIntosh finished off lap 19 before cut off time and Marty Knowler also managed to get the 19th in with 3 odd minutes to spare – I think Glenn gained the extra half a lap after I saw him eat a piece of venison that was more salt than meat after he went nuts with the salt shaker

In the womens race Miriam and Nessa had stuck together the whole 8 hours and jointly took the womens title with 14 laps – 8 hours of smiles and talking

The whole night was then set off by a visit to the Colac Bay tavern for prize giving and a feed of bacon and eggs

All in all a great friendly event with a track that is a challenge but not enough to put off the person wanting to just have a go but at the same time tough enough for those that want to race it. The whole event was VERY well run and team Tecofsky and friends are to be congratulated on what they put together. Big thanks also of course has to go to the sponsors including the Southland Te Araroa trail trust who helped put the track together and maintain it.

I highly recommend anyone driving through Colac bay towards Tuatapere looks for the sign on the main road that points to the Long Hilly track and makes the short detour to walk/run a lap, there is a lot of history on the track to view from the old mining days

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