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The Wild Kiwi

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The Wild Kiwi

By Dion Blundell on 17th April 2018 Race Reports

The Wild Kiwi

Just cruisin'... pic by Photos4Sale

The Wild Kiwi 21km run around Whangarei Heads is, for me, a training run for Rotorua Marathon. It’s my long-tempo run for the week. The hooter goes, and all the fast guns sprint off. As usual, they were on the horizon before I was across the line. I started about half way through the field and slowly warmed up. There was some serious speed in that opening stretch from some, there was no way I could keep up.

My mid-pack start. Pic by Angela Blundell

The first climb is a switchback, here I slowly walked past people. It always amazes me how fast people go out. After that there is a cool mini-climb and downhill which is nice and fast; an opportunity to warm the legs. Then comes the first set of stairs; time to walk.

I put my hands on my knees and keep my head up and walk hard. Someone kindly steps aside for me. About a third of the way up, I notice I’m making a mess of the steps with the sweat pouring off me. Towards the top someone catches and overtakes me, my legs are completely gone.

Looking fresh at 4k. Pic by Photos4Sale

I forgot how hard this was. Then as it gets more gnarly I catch him. A tramper shouts out we’re fifth and sixth. We then journey on for the next few kms chatting about this and that. Turns out his brother-in-law, Bruce, is way up front (he ends up winning). It was nice to have company and to be able to chat. At the first aid station my new friend stops for a re-supply. I grab an orange jet plane and carry on, that makes me fifth.

The path is smoothing out and it’s time to stretch the legs again and get them warm. There’s one final set of stairs going down, then it’s the road down to Oceans. I manage to get it up to 3:45/km going down, but the legs are shot, at this grade it should be 3:30/km. I cruise into the carpark and pass Shaun Collins getting a drink, that’s fourth. The test will come whether I can maintain that going up the next hill.

I tip-toe across the sand, and then settle in for the long WoG (walk/jog) up the grass. The view is stunning. You look back over your shoulder and can see the whole east coast north (oh to go for a swim). There’s a dive boat off the point, guess that’s cray for dinner for them.

The course has so many great views!

The canopy cover then comes, and I stumble on in third place. I overtake. At some point I lose concentration and am re-overtaken. But then he runs into a tree. I check he’s OK, and he says he is, so I carry on. Shaun catches us. We carry on.

Somewhere towards the top I come across someone with poles spread across the track in Gandalf fashion... “You shall not pass...” Now comes the hardest part, keeping the pace up with 15k people coming towards us with their heads down and headphones on; some people just don’t get it!

On my descent I come across a group of trampers, and a few minutes on I come across their lost companions. I stop and help them connect with each other, set them in the right direction thanks to cellphones, so no SAR needed (lucky there’s coverage)!

There’s a bit more up and down and then the final descent down all the stairs; I take them nice and slow, one step at a time to make sure I don’t fall.

At the bottom aid station I’m told the leaders are 8-9 minutes in front; no chance of catching anyone. Time to back off and cruise to the end, still need my legs for this week's Rotorua training. The next part is easy - it’s all gentle downhill and flat, time to just flow with it and not push. With a km to go there is a gentle uphill. Time to take a walk break and rest in case anyone gets close, so there is something left. After a minute Shaun pops around the corner, time to start jogging the last of the hill, it’s then a gentle downhill to the finish. Third. Not bad for an old man!

Done! A third place finish. Pic by Photos4Sale

Time for a hug with my son Daniel who just won the 8k event. Nice! After a brief catch up with David Nielsen who came second and Shaun fourth, it’s time for Daniel and I to catch the bus to the 3k where my other kids - Caitlin, Annalia and Isaac - are running.

Caitlin had a tumble, but got up after pausing for only 6 seconds, then battered she made her way across the line as first equal girl, Annalia was just behind as third girl, and Issac seventh boy. What stars!

All in all, a good weekend.

Young Wild Things! Pic by Angela Blundell

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