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The Dual Marathon

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The Dual Marathon

By Jon Turner on 26th March 2018 Race Reports

The Dual Marathon

Jon Turner running through a scoria field on Rangitoto Island.

The weather forecast was predicting one of those fantastic Auckland washout days, the perfect day to sleep in, stay inside and watch cricketers sit morosely in tents.

So why was I waking up at 4:30 am, heading out into the pouring rain to catch a ferry?

To head over to the only sporting event held on a pest-free island – in the world!

The ferry trip over to Motutapu Island was quick and efficient, with that dreaded rain banishing us all below deck until we docked. We got off the boat and the rain cleared.

We watched the triathletes swim and then head off on their bikes – and the rain stayed away. By the time we were lining up in the start chute, I was regretting not packing any sunscreen!

After the safety briefing, Aaron Carter from Total Sport – the legend who, along with the Motutapu Restoration Trust, conceived this event and has run it for the last 10 years, lined up at the start line – then we were off.

Straight into around 2 km of uphill, which sorted everyone out and reminded me that this certainly wasn’t going to be a 3-hour marathon. We followed the southern edge of Motutapu, then headed across a causeway and started the slog up Rangitoto. This was quite enjoyable, hauling in mountain bikers and passing them, their sighs of discontent like music to my ears. I also caught up with my new mate Brendan, and passed him by, joking that I’d be seeing him again soon.

Off the road and onto a forested winding trail that lead up to the summit, it almost felt like being in the Waitakere Ranges. Fantails flitted around the path, and tui sang in the bush. I’m sure I heard one of the 50 kiwis on the island too…

Up to the summit and I hear footsteps right behind me, its Brendan again. He passes me by with the refrain, “I’ll see you soon”. The nice trail from earlier turned into a volcanic scene with unsecured rocks, plant life clinging on for dear life, and a twisting and turning trail that was very unforgiving of mistakes.

Phew, done with that part, I thought, as the trail widened and lent itself to some nice ‘speedy’ running, then turned onto the coast and we ran past a couple of baches. All of a sudden, I was clambering over rocks again and leaping to and fro. The inevitable happened and I took a tumble, but only have a couple of scratches to show for it. This went on for about 4 km and, in hindsight, I probably took it a bit too hard – as my legs never really recovered from it.

Got to the aid station and caught up to Brendan again. We ran back across the causeway to Motutapu then headed into some farm hill climbing at which point we parted for good. This part nearly broke me – nearly 18 km of constant climbing and descending on grass – but the views more than made up for it – there is something thrilling about running past old army bunkers and surveying the whole Hauraki Gulf.

The course cruelly goes past the event base, where I heard the announcer say that the Marathon winner had just finished – but I still had 8 km to go! The plethora of aid stations made it a whole lot easier, and I carried on at a mediocre pace around the hills before rushing down the last 800 metres of downhill and home, somehow getting 3rd place!

The rest of the day was well organised, with a concert and easy ferry rides, as well as plenty of beers and food.

Thanks to Total Sport and especially Wild Things for the experience. I realised, as I was wincing from chafing in the shower, that the Altra shoes I was wearing had been purchased for half price thanks to being a Wild Things VIP, as well as the Tailwind I drank, and the whole event was free! It really does #paytobevip!

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