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7 Months a Runner.

We don’t generally post “personal journey” type stories on BCR- I am not sure why? I guess there are many of them and it seems social media makes a good platform for these stories, maybe? But this story, from Brook van Reenen really resonated with me. I briefly met Brook in March this year, before he was a “runner”, so I was surprised to see him again in May and heard he had started running with the goal of running the Kepler Challenge, this year’s Kepler Challenge. 

It all started for me in May. I was on holiday in the North Island when I got a message from one of my good mate’s dad and friend, Hemi Vincent. I’m based in Wanaka and Hemi wanted me to go into the Night & Day to find out what happened the previous night, resulting in my buddy Kahu Vincent ending up in a coma and being rushed to Dunedin hospital,. I felt sick after hearing this. “I can’t help” I said,  as I got more details from him and wondered what kind of twisted person would do this to another human being. My holiday was coming to an end and I was camped on 90 Mile Beach- it was stunning and that evening I decided to go for a run on the beach, having barely run anywhere before! I ran about 3kms and it totally cleared my head, from then on I decided I would keep at it when I got back to Wanaka.

Some winter training on Mount Iron. Photo Brook van Reenen

Some winter training on Mount Iron. Photo Brook van Reenen

The next day scrolling through Facebook a sponsored message from Queenstown Marathon came along, “flat out beautiful” it read, I jumped at the chance and signed up then and there! It was still 6 months away so I thought that was enough time to train and I thought it would be a good goal to achieve before I turn 30 next year! Back in Wanaka I asked a mate Andrew Town how to train for a marathon, he sent me back a basic 24 week training programme. I checked the dates and discovered that the next 24 weeks through the middle of the coldest winter we’ve had in a long time and Spring that I was going to be running a lot but I was keen. It was pretty full on and I enjoyed every minute. There were days that I couldn’t be bothered but I was determined to complete every run and sometimes they turned out to be the best runs!! September 5th came around and my buddy Kahu Vincent was doing well, I was using his step by step progress as motivation for my own step by step progress towards my goal of running a marathon. It was also the day of my first ever half marathon at Jacks Point in Queenstown put on by Andrew Town. It was steep, muddy and greasy but I was stoked to finish it in 2 hours 19min. A prize was up for grabs just for entering and I somehow got lucky and won an entry to the Kepler Challenge. I’d often wanted to walk it but didn’t know the crazies ran the big 60km lap in a day! I spoke to Andrew and he thought I’d be too tired as it was 2 weeks after the Queenstown Marathon, but me being me I like to take every opportunity that I get and I decided to go for it! I wanted to run it for Kahu! He was home now getting better and it was good to see him again. It was a whole lot better than seeing tubes in him when I visited him in Dunedin hospital.

Cromwell Half.

Cromwell Half.

Next up at the end of October it was Cromwell half marathon. I’d learned a lot from Jacks point, as well as from picking mates Andrew’s and Grant Guise’s brains and I went into it feeling fresh. It was fast, hot and a lot of road running which I wasn’t used to but I paced myself and got home in a time of 1 hour 42. A new personal best and I felt I was on track for the big one less than a month away! From now on it was getting intense. I was training during the week for Queenstown and on Sunday’s hitting the hills and training for the Kepler. Breast Hill, Mount Roy and Corner Peak were some good work outs – I had improved a lot and was getting fitter. I thought about how awesome my mate Kahu was doing, he had bet me at a game of chess and I admired his strength and determination.

Kahu and friend Matty Town

Kahu, and friend Matty Town, after beating me at Chess!

 

November 21st Rolled around, Queenstown Marathon day. I had 4 hours in the back of my mind and it was cloudy and quite chilly, near perfect running conditions. We started at Millbrook and headed through Arrowtown, where everyone was in good spirits and towards the end it was a thrill to run through the closed streets of Queenstown with random supporters cheering everyone on. I finished in 4 hours 6 minutes and was stoked to see my Mum and Dad at the finish. Then it was back to Wanaka and time to rest up with 2 weeks to go for the ultimate goal- The Kepler Challenge!

Queenstown Marathon.

Queenstown Marathon.

Kahu was doing awesome he had now made it to the top of Mount Iron. I was impressed as it is a tough wee climb and a perfect hill to run and train on. Friday the 4th of December came around and I packed my gear and running shoes into the car and headed to Te-Anau excited and pretty nervous at the same time! I caught up with Grant Guise and got some nice last minute tips and was stoked to meet running legend Malcolm Law! Malcolm’s book one step beyond had inspired me after he ran 7 of the great New Zealand walks in 7 days. The Kepler was his last stop!

Te-Anau Heading up to Luxmore

The view on the way to Luxmore Hut.

 

The briefing was that night and the next morning bright and early at 6am we were underway, this one was for my buddy Kahu. Grant was out in the bush supporting everyone at the start and I gave him a high five as I ran past, finding out later that he would get 3rd in the 27Km Luxmore Grunt! The run to the first hut, Luxmore was a grind- I checked the time and it was 10 to 8. I was feeling good and got my gear checked by the people dressed up as animals at the first aid station it was going to be a long day but fun! I understood early on why we needed all the gear, I put on my polypro and jacket as a cold southerly was coming through and some sideways rain blowing on my face! Pretty soon the gloves came on as well! I got onto the switch backs and running was a breeze it felt good and I met up with another mate who I’d met at every event I’d done previously Glen Christiansen, from Cromwell. We had a good yarn until we got to the Christmas themed aid station Iris Burn where I fueled up and he went on ahead. He told me to pace myself because now it starts to hurt, with 25kms to go!! He was right, from only eating energy bars, fruit, jet planes, drinking GU and water all day, my body started playing tricks on me and I started feeling sick. I got to Rocky Point had an orange and a rest, and carried on to Moturau Hut, which was 16kms to go. I sat down at one of the tables and had a decent rest, drank some more water and got up again, I was determined to finish this.

It was a good feeling heading into Rainbow Reach, at the 9km to go spectator area. Mum and Dad had come to support me and I told Mum I was exhausted but I plodded on. It was the longest 9km of my life! Every hill big or small was torture! 5km to go there was another aid station, another cup of water and I carried on. By now I could hear the sound of the commentator’s voice travelling down the Waiau River- more torture! I continued on, shattered and exhausted and made it to the finish line in 9hours and 47 Minutes! A finisher’s medal went round my neck and I had my photo taken! Mum and Dad greeted me I was tired but pretty stoked with what I’d just achieved. Kahu hadn’t given up and even though I felt like it, I hadn’t give up either!

Kepler Finish line.

Kepler Finish line.

 

That night after dinner Grant invited me around to where he was staying for some long overdue beers! and a catch up on the day’s events. Among others Malcolm and his wife Sally Law were there, Ruby Muir the first girl home in 5 and a half hours! Matt Bixley and 2nd place getter in the Luxmore Grunt, Kristian Day. There was lots of camaraderie in the room and it was cool to be there and meet those talented people. I was hooked on running and we were already thinking ahead to the New Year and planning our next events! Motatapu, The Routeburn Classic? Who knows! So thanks to everyone who has supported me in my new hobby and my friend Kahu for being such an inspiration. This Quote helped me throughout the year when I felt like quitting “It always seems impossible until it’s done” Nelson Mandela.


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A Backcountry Running Community for New Zealand trail, mountain and ultra runners- We want this to be the place you come for all things trail running including race previews and reports, interviews with New Zealand runners and hopefully a whole lot more! Our aim is to provide as much original content- previews/reports/interviews on New Zealand trail, mountain and ultra races. We can't be everywhere- so feel free to get in touch if you have the scoop on a race or event.

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