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Meet the Wild Things

Our members come from all walks of life and represent a wide range of trail running skills and experience. But one thing they all share is a passion for our sport and the ability to inspire others. This is your chance to get to know them a little better.

Who inspires you? If you'd like to nominate someone to be profiled in this section please get in touch.

Simon Clendon

Simon Clendon

52 year old Simon Clendon from Auckland has been running trails since 2007.

He's a local legend, known for the incredible support that he gives to anyone doing anything slightly daft.

He says that what he loves most about trail running is "the people"

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How did you first get into trail running?

That'd be my first proper event - the West Coaster back in 2007

Where are your favourite runs?

The Waitakere Ranges in Auckland

What types of trail do you most like to run?

Technical through bush, with some Mud Monster encounters

Do you prefer solo or group runs?

Group for sure!

How important is competing to you?



Not very.

What do you consider to be your biggest trail running achievement?

It has to be my 2017 Tarawera Double run/walk/crawl/retch (204km).

What's your most memorable run ever?

I have many memorable runs but some stick out more than others. I remember running the Molesworth 85km in 2009 in stinking hot and dusty weather and having a blast. The next day or so I had the most amazing runners high I have ever had then or since. It felt like I was walking a few inches off the floor! I'm sure the extremes of the run altered my brain chemistry temporarily (some would say permanently!)

What's your next big goal?

The 316km 7 day Alps 2 Ocean Ultra Marathon in February/March next year (2018)

What's your favourite run food?

Piha Shop pies!

What gets you out of bed to hit the trails on a morning when all you want to do is have a lie in?

If I have a trail run scheduled then I don't have a problem getting out of bed! It's the enforced road training where that issue comes up!

What's your favourite time of day to run?

Early morning where I catch the sun coming up half way through the run.

Who do you look up to in the world of trail running? Your heroes or mentors?

Ooo, so many! Firstly my wife. Nic started trail running before I did and inspired me to give it a go. That was after I questioned her sanity in driving all the way the hell out to the Waitaks just to get muddy LOL!

I also especially look up to people who get out on the trails despite having so many challenges to overcome. Mary Fisher is just amazing! Amelia Stephens is another I hold up on a high pedestal. 

Pretty much all the people I run with are my heroes and inspirations (too many to list and too much chance of accidentally leaving out someone). I have to include event organisers who put so much blood, sweat, and tears into bringing us a forum to test ourselves. High on this list are Paul Charteris, Tim Day and their team. You guys help so many people do things they didn't think possible, including myself.

How much a part of your life is trail running?

It holds a pretty big part.

What are the biggest challenges you face regarding trail running?

Getting enough trail time. I can usually only hit the trails at the weekend.

Any remarkable or amusing stories you'd like to share about trail running?

Well, the funniest part of my Tarawera Double, in a weird way, was the nausea that hit me early on (only 50k in). Every 20 kilometres or so I would end up on my knees retching unproductively. I remember on the return leg to Kawerau, at the Okataina aid station, I had another episode and quickly went a short distance down the trail so I wouldn't be captured by the first aiders. During some noisy "deer roaring", I just couldn't stop laughing at the whole situation. Luckily I always kept my calories down and could continue happily for another 20km

What other sports or pastimes do you enjoy?

There are other pastimes? Oh, I do like drinking well-earned post run coffees, and riding my motorbike on the rare weekend day where I'm not running.

What does your run year look like? Do you ramp up for events or simply turn up?

I tend to prefer "fat ass" adventures where you gather a bunch of friends and just head on out. Having said that, I do like to have at least one Big Hairy Goal event per year to aim for.

How much and how often is 'formal' training (such as hill reps, speed work and such like)
 included in your routine?

I now have a coach and it's just the best thing for a lazy runner like myself. My goal event doesn't require speed work (phew) so lots of long distance training is in order.

Tell us something about yourself that has nothing to do with trail running.

I have way too many kids (5).

Simon's closing thoughts...



"Trail runners are a special breed. They are more caring and tolerant of each other than the general mob out there. I think this is a cross between the natural and beautiful places we enjoy together, and the type of people these places attract. Having said that, I believe in the basic goodness in pretty much everyone – it's just that some people are yet to discover the joys of trail running"

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Stephanie Berry

Stephanie Berry

52 year old Stephanie (Steph) Berry, from Charteris Bay on the Banks Peninsula near Christchurch was a recent winner of our Tailwind Good Sorts Award - due recognition for the amazing support she gives to the trail running community in so many ways.

Steph has been running trails off & on for most of her life and has had to face down some exceptional personal challenges to still be going today.

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How did you first get into trail running?

When we were kids our parents used to take us to places like Lake Daniells and Hanmer Springs for camping holidays. I used to challenge one of my brothers to races along the trails ... I remember always wanting to "just go to the next corner". Of course when I got that far I wanted to go and see what was around the next bend and then the next one and then the next. We would run for ages (or what seemed like ages). He always won because he would take a short cut back down steep banks and through streams and I would stick to the trail. I always challenged him again when we got back and he would refuse so I would go back on my own. I guess that was the start of my love for all things trails. Then, later in life I was coaching school children in outdoor ed and taking them into the local Canterbury mountains. We'd get near the top and race each other to the top of the mountain and then break into a run coming down. It was so much fun I just started heading into the hills for my runs.

What would you miss most about trail running if you were forced to give it up for some reason?

I'd miss the exhileration of running down a single trail in the bush and mountains, the feeling of freedom, the feeling of my own power and strength as I climb a hill or scramble across a stream, the majesty of nature, the peace and serenity, the connection between the earth, the flora and fauna and my body ... physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually ... the feeling of oneness and interconnectedness, the absolute sense of belonging that is lacking in the material world. Trail running brings me back to me and to all that exists in nature ... I would miss the ease of that connection.

Do you prefer solo or group runs?

A bit of both ... solo when I want to connect with myself and experience nature more deeply, with others when I want to connect with others and play and converse or just be in togetherness in the wild.

How important is competing to you?

I can take it or leave it ... love meeting new people and catching up with friends and cheering others on and celebrating peoples victories and commiserating their bad days.

What's your next big goal?

My next big goal is to complete an ultra distance run, hopefully before Xmas this year and then next year I want to complete a 100km run. I have a course mapped out that I want to run. I want to do it in my own time, in my own way, with whomever wants to support me and for me it's my way of saying F**k You to Autoimmune Disease, F**k You to Fibromyalgia, F**k You to Adrenal Fatigue. It's my way of saying "I've got this"!! 100kms here I come!

What do you consider to be your biggest trail running achievement?

Being able to run ... every run for me is an achievement ... just putting my shoes on and hitting the trail .... any trail, any distance is my biggest achievement. Two years ago when I could barely walk because of the pain and exhaustion in my body I couldn't imagine ever running again. The mere thought of running made me feel sick. Somewhere in the depths of my mind there was a glimmer of some far off day when I would run again but it was so weak that I would dismiss it as fantasy or something someone else would be able to do but not me. Slowly week by week, month by month, year by year I have found my way back to loving the trails and loving the body I live in and loving running and if it wasn't for the trails I don't think I would have tried to run again. There are days when I stand looking out the window thinking I need to go for a run but the pain is too much and those are the days that I reluctantly put my shoes on and force myself out the door and when I take those first few steps suddenly I am in a different body and the pain is less and I am running and I am free and life is really good right then. I appreciate trail running more on those days than the ones when it's easy and it all flows smoothly.

What's your most memorable run ever? 

My most memorable trail run to date was an early morning run up Mt Oxford to capture the sunrise. We left home at 4am with the intention to be at the peak before the sun rose. It was touch and go which was part of the fun but challenging as I wasn't feeling well and had to constantly push. There were moments when I felt we weren't going to get to the top in time and I had to keep pushing through the pain. I can't explain why it so important to get to the top before the sun .... I'd just decided I wanted to see the sunrise and I wasn't going to give up or let a little pain defeat me. I went through a roller coaster of emotions ... one minute feeling defeated and the next rallying and determined we would get there in time. It took 40 minutes longer than usual to make that climb and every inch of it hurt like hell. We crept closer and closer to the trig as it got lighter and lighter ... constantly watching the horizon as it appeared and disappeared behind ridges and trees until finally we stood on the top. As I touched the spot that marked the trig, my partner George said "look", and I turned toward the rising sun and there it was ... just popping out above the horizon ... the most magical moment .... standing atop a mountain watching the sun rise above the horizon. We'd made it with not a moment to spare and it was worth every step of pain. A hugely emotional moment of awe and wonder and amazement ... staring into the heart of the rising sun. Once we had our fill of sun energy we ran across the snow covered ridge and down through the trees, completing a 21km loop.

What's your favourite run food?

Our own secret recipe Bliss Balls ... so yummy

What gets you out of bed to hit the trails on a morning when all you want to do is have a lie in?

The promise of a glorious sunrise, the thrill of a sweet downhill trail, finishing a run and still having some day left to do other things.

What's your favourite time of day to run?

Pre-dawn

What other sports or pastimes do you enjoy?

Kayaking & Mountain Biking just for fun. Passionate about anything to do with Health & fitness, nutrition, helping others, Essential Oils, meditation, yoga, permaculture, living simply and growing amazing nutritious food.

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Hollie Woodhouse

Hollie Woodhouse

33 year old Hollie Woodhouse from Christchurch has a serious case of the Adventure Bug.

She's been running trails seriously for some 6 years but "if chasing sheep and cattle around my parents' farm counts then I've been doing it for as long as I can remember"

Hollie is also the creator and publisher of the marvellous Say Yes To Adventure magazine

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How did you first get into trail running?

I was into triathlons when I lived in Sydney, and upon returning to NZ this quickly transformed into trail running. Off-road and getting muddy is so much more fun!

Where are your favourite runs?

Little Mt Peel is my all-time favourite trail. It's a great mix of terrain, elevation and can be done in a few hours, even better when you get up there for sunrise. Plus, the views at the top are amazing!

How important is competing to you?

It's not so much the competing, but the goal and focus of training for an event. Plus, you get to explore new places that you wouldn't have access to otherwise.

What do you consider to be your biggest trail running achievement?

Beyond the Ultimate Jungle Ultra – 230km through the Amazon Jungle in Peru. No words can describe how EPIC this race was. Once we got deep in the jungle it was everything I imagined it to be and more. I would highly recommend this race to anyone.

What's your most memorable run ever?

Ha, probably the Jungle Ultra. The first few days were a battle, mentally and physically, as I struggled with a stomach bug... You can read my blog for the full details! But quitting was never an option, even if I had to crawl (there were definite moments) but I came right half-way through and ended up feeling so great on the final few days (due to how slow I had started!).

What's your next big goal?

I have Spring Challenge North in mid-October, plus a few other events along the way such as Mission Mount Somers and Xterra Motatapu. But the next scary goal is the Patagonia Expedition Race in November 2018. I'm terrified, but if it doesn't scare you, it isn't a big enough challenge, right??

How much a part of your life is trail running?

Not enough! There are never enough hours in the day. I often find I start running and then suddenly I am a few hours deep, miles from my car and running out of daylight! I use running as my meditation, I plan my blogs and sort out any issues I have at work all while in beautiful locations. Running off-road is a very important part of life for so many reasons.

What other sports or pastimes do you enjoy?

I love multisport events; the combination of different disciplines is a great way to keep things interesting, especially during training. Events such as Coast to Coast, Red Bull Defiance and Breca Swimrun are all great races on offer in the South Island. I have a design background and love photography too – so I am never without my phone or camera to capture my adventures to share later!

What does your run year look like? Do you ramp up for events or simply turn up?

I've become a bit blasé of late. I used to be so focused on each race, but now I seem to just expect my body to cope. I had a great wake-up call at the recent Mount Difficulty event and it made me realise I need to train for specific events that I enter!

Tell us something about yourself that has nothing to do with trail running.

I'm the founder/editor/designer behind Say Yes To Adventure magazine. The opportunities that have opened since publishing the first volume have been incredible. Print is a tough gig though, so am currently working through a few ways to increase our digital presence. Watch this space!

Hollie's closing thoughts:

"Trail running keeps me sane; I'm a much better person when I am out in the hills! I'd miss the mental side as much as the physical side if I ever had to give it up"

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Liz Palmer

Liz Palmer

57 year old Liz Palmer from Auckland's North Shore has been running trails for 6 years

For Liz, trail running is all about "the scenery, the friends, meeting new people and the social aspect"

At the time we interviewed Liz she was struggling with a stress fracture...

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How did you first get into trail running?

A friend was doing Total Sport Xterra Challenge Waihi event. I was just run walking 9km at the time and loved the K Gorge so thought I would I've it a go with her.

Where are your favourite runs?

We are so spoilt for choice in NZ for trails. I guess my favourites are K Gorge, the Kauri Run on the Coromandel, Waharau and the Hunuas. Also love Tarawera 50. Mmmm, so hard to choose.

How important is competing to you?

I am definitely a complete not a compete type of person. Would rather be at the tail end having a laugh and meeting people. Value for money and smiles per km. :)

What do you consider to be your biggest trail running achievement?

At the moment Tarawera 63km in Feb this year with a torn hamstring.

What's your most memorable run ever?

The Kauri Run this year. There was just something about running from the east coast to the west coast of the Coromandel straight over the top. The scenery was just stunning and Bryony, Kelley, Julz and I decided to do it together so it was a lot of fun

What's your next big goal?

Up until a few weeks ago it would have definitely have been Tarawera 102km in 2019, now it is to get back to running. I have a stress fracture in my right foot at the moment so am 2 weeks into a 6 week no weight bearing regime on a knee crutch. Mentally very challenging when your specialist tells you no exercise for 3 weeks including swimming. Delivered with a smile. :( Wasn't sure whether to stab him first or myself! :) While I am being very sensible, I am continuing with deep water running classes in my moon boot and swimming with a pull buoy so I don't use my feet to kick. I'm not sure if people look at me with pity at the moment or just think I am crazy. You just can't tell somebody who runs 50+ kms a week and swims nearly 10 to do nothing. Maybe if I can keep some semblance of sanity (stop laughing those who know me!) then my physical recovery may be faster.

How much a part of your life is trail running?

It was 90% outside of my working life so it has been a massive void to fill

What other sports or pastimes do you enjoy?

I love my swimming, winter is the worst as we hit the pool once a week but this year 3 of us have kept swimming in the ocean all winter. Bit on the chilly side but has been awesome. I love adventure racing and Hayley and I have entered Breca Bay of Islands in April next year - am totally excited about that one! :)

What does your run year look like? Do you ramp up for events or simply turn up?

My run year looks full of events, one is always a training run for the next event. Costs a fortune but it is so worth it.

Liz's closing thoughts:

"I love the people I meet out on the trails and admire anybody who is out there doing it. We are all out there on our own journeys and it's brilliant finding out the reason for other people being out. I guess people just start talking to me because of my hair, I guess it is pretty distinctive and a conversation opener. Anybody with black and purple hair has to be approachable right!?"

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Kunal Kumar

Kunal Kumar

34 year old Kunal Kumar from Auckland combines a passion for the trails with a love of photography - we frequently find ourselves re-posting his awesome Instagram images on @wildthingsnz

Introduced to trail running by fellow Wild Thing Jenny Hirst, he has been smashing it out for some 5 years.

His main motivation?... "the scenery and sharing it with mates"

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Where's  your favourite place to run?

Okura at sunrise.

Do you prefer solo or group runs?

Depends how you I'm feeling - a good mix – mainly group these days (pub runs!)

How important is competing to you?

For me - enjoyment is more important than competing, chances are if you enjoy it more – you will naturally do better.

What's your most memorable run ever? 

The Dual Marathon 2017. Smashed my goals without realising it – I really enjoyed it, and hence everything else just came together on the day.

What's your favourite run food?

Beer!

What gets you out of bed to hit the trails on a morning when all you want to do is have a lie in?

A good sunrise!

Who do you look up to in the world of trail running? Your heroes or mentors?

My mentor from day 1 and always: Jenny Hirst. Naturally I also enjoy those who are capturing and telling the stories of the trail – local photographer / runner – Paul Petch is one and internationally Jamil Coury whose YouTube videos are inspiring.

How much a part of your life is trail running?

It's creeping in, but I don't mind too much.

What other sports or pastimes do you enjoy?

Photography! Check out my Instagram: @kunalk2

How much and how often is 'formal' training (such as hill reps, speed work and such like) included in your routine? 

Training – what's that?! Hill reps = running to a cliff for a sunrise or sunset. Speed work = getting to that sunrise or sunset in time.

Anything else interesting?

Browns Bay Critical Mass and Trail Running Adventures based on the north shore of Auckland is my crew. I run a weekly group pub run on Wednesday nights around the trails in Albany.

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