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Latest Inspiration

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.

Eugene Bingham

Eugene Bingham

Eugene is 44 year-old Born Again trail runner currently residing in West Auckland.

He grew up running on bush trails in the Hunua Ranges, south-east of Auckland, but then defected to the dark side and bitumen for many years.

But in the last 5 years he has rediscovered his love for the trails...

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How did you first get into trail running?

As a teenager, it was a matter of heading off with my mate, Greg Mac, to Hunua, to get in some long runs, and find some grunty hills and mean downhills (with my piddly legs going double time to try to keep up with his loping strides). Most of our usual runs were around the footpaths or at the track, so the bush/trails were an escape and a bit of an adventure for a couple of kids from Papakura. For most of my life, I ran on the road. But then about five years ago, I had the urge to run ultras and knew it was time to hear the call of the wild again. Shaun Collins was very generous with encouragement, maps and advice, and Shaun Cooper (an experienced ultra-marathoner and great running mate) was kind enough to allow me to start tagging along for long runs off-road again. I still feel like a fraud being called a trail runner – I'm a runner who loves to get out on the trails when I can. But I see some seriously-committed trail runners whose Strava runs I drool over – they're real trail runners.

What types of trail do you most like to run?

In my mind, I imagine skipping over gnarly, rocky, mountainous routes. In reality, my technical skills are more suited to the groomed, kid-friendly, bark-topped tracks around the Redwoods in Rotorua (although I always still manage to trip over stray tree-roots). So somewhere in the middle is good.

What's your most memorable run ever?

It was the summer of 2012/13. I was training for Tarawera, my first proper ultra. Although training had been going well, with five and six hour runs in the Waitaks, Riverhead and Woodhill under my belt, I was feeling totally daunted and was doubting my ability to even get to the start line. My wise training partner and friend, Shaun, decided that what we needed to do was the Hillary Trail (or at least most of it – from Arataki-Constable Rd). I was fair crapping myself at just the prospect of it – for starters, it was going to be my longest run ever. On the Friday at work, I was totally distracted, worrying about it, worrying that I would let Shaun down, worrying that I would let myself down. We set off just before 6 am at Arataki and ran into a warm, still, summer's day. It was magical. I embraced the challenge of it, leaning into the climbs and thrashing through the streams; I adored the connection with nature, ahhh-ing at the pohutukawa forest at Parahaha valley and smiling at the symphony of west coast beaches - the squeak of black sand under trail shoes, backed by the crescendo of crashing waves; and I delighted in the discovery that a sandwich from the Piha shop after about seven hours running is one of the gastronomic wonders of the world. And I loved the fact that I could do all those things in one exhausting yet exhilarating day. Most of all, I just loved the feeling of ambling along, chewing the fat with Shaun and, later, our friend Guy who joined us for the last few hours. As we sat there in day's last few rays of sun, gutsing ourselves on watermelon and that glorious view from the Constable Rd end of Te Henga walkway, I realised I'd figured out something important: trail ultras aren't races to be feared, they're adventures to be embraced, and an excuse to get you out there for plenty of other adventures beside. And in our busy, connected world, that's just what I needed.

What's your favourite run food?

There comes a time when you realise you can't beat a slice of juicy watermelon.

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

Kilian Jornet is astonishing – I sometimes watch YouTube videos of him tearing down steep, technical descents and wonder how he can do it looking more assured, balanced and stable than I do just running on a concrete footpath! I always love listening to interviews with our own Anna Frost – from everything I've heard and read about her, I love her attitude, her determination and guts, and her down-to-earth approach. She's a star, and her achievements are astounding and sadly over-looked in her home country. I think we have some pretty superb race organisers in this country – Tim Day, Shaun and Madeleine Collins, for example, while Paul Charteris is an absolute living legend and inspiration. And, of course, when it comes to heroes, there's a couple of folk called Malcolm and Sally Law. What you guys have done to build a community, tick off some massive challenges and fundraise a gazillion dollars is absolutely heroic. Respect.

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

I was out for a solo long run in the Waitaks one Sunday. I'd been enjoying hearing a kaka squawking and swooping from the trees above, and watching North Island robins dancing and hopping along the trail, feasting on grubs. I was totally zen and at one with nature, having not seen another human being for a couple of hours. Just then, a ferret scrambled across the track in front on me, diving into the undergrowth. It made me so mad – how dare this invader gobble up our beautiful birds! I did what any sane person having a zen moment with nature would do: screamed at the top of my lungs "*&^% off, you *&^%^%!!!" Right at that moment, just as the first expletive soured the air, a tramper came around the corner... He stopped in his tracks, unsure who this screaming maniac on his own in the bush was and wondering if he was going to have to use his alpine walking poles to defend himself. "Um, I'm really, really sorry – I wasn't talking to you, I was talking to that ferret," I said, pointing at the undergrowth. He stared at the empty spot where I was pointing. Of course, the ferret had long gone. This just made me seem even more crazy. I put my head down and squeezed to the side of the track to get past him and get out of there as fast as I could. He let me go without saying a word. Poor guy must have wondered what the hell he'd encountered.

What other sports or pastimes do you enjoy?
Watching our kids, Marc and Kieran, play sport, and getting involved is one of life's true joys. For about 20 years, it was soccer on Saturdays, often with me as coach even though I knew less than the kids (having grown up playing rugby). In recent years, both of them got into basketball too – it's a great sport that I had never been much of a fan of but am now a convert and we can be found courtside, often with my wife, Suzanne, on the scorebench or helping coach. And recently I've proudly run alongside Marc in a couple of road events. Such fun. I'll convert him to trails some day...

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

I'm a journalist, currently working for Fairfax Media on the Stuff Circuit team, producing investigative video stories with some amazing workmates. It's a job I love – but I couldn't do it without having the stress-relief of running. And trail yarns in the office with Wild Thing and outstanding photographer Chris McKeen.

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Andrew Eadon-Jones

Andrew Eadon-Jones

50 year old Andrew, originally from the UK but now settled in Auckland, has been running trails for some 10 years.

He is the visionary behind the Cape Reinga to Bluff Relay'ish - a huge undertaking that aims to raise $200,000 for the children's charity Variety.

What makes this man tick?

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How did you first get into trail running?

I entered a cross country marathon named the Clarendon (Salisbury to Winchester in South England.) I vowed I would never do another marathon again and didn't for at least 2 years.

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

I would miss being out in nature, the wilderness with friends or alone, being high both in the mountains and mentally or spiritually if you like.

Do you prefer solo or group runs?

I used to road run alone for at least the first couple of years or so of my running life. My first experience of running regularly in a group was in Christchurch with the Port Hills Running club, I loved it. Since those sunny days in Christchurch I have always tried to train in a group, I love the social aspect to trail running even if I do find it difficult to keep up with the youngsters and for that matter some of the more mature runners...

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

I ran the Ultra Easy 100km Sky Run with 4700m of overall climbing in Wanaka in 2016. My first 100km mountain trail, hopefully it will not be my last.

What's your most memorable run ever?

I had to think about that question. The more I think about it, its actually a 30km training run I did with a friend around Godley Head Park in Christchurch in 2015. I was in tip top condition, no injuries, training was spot on, head space was spot on, nutrition was spot on'ish and on this particular training run, that I regularly ran on the weekends, the sun was shining, blue skies, rugged challenging trail I felt what I think was "flow" that is when everything feels right and I was just gliding over the landscape a truly amazing experience.

What's your next big goal?

My next big goal is running 6.25 marathons in 7 days from Cape Reinga to Russell which is Leg 1 (the longest leg) of 31 legs from Cape Reinga to Bluff. The only relay that really matters in 2018. Some legs are 10km in length. We will be raising much needed funds for Variety the children's charity supporting disadvantaged kiwi kids. 100 days. 2000km. $200,000 - big numbers for little kiwi kids in need. For more info check out our website.

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

There are two individuals that really pricked my respect and awe buttons. They are Ranulph Fiennes who I met about 25 years ago when he gave a lecture in the Christchurch Antartica Centre not long after he and Dr Mike Stroud walked unaided across Antartica... I read his book Mind Over Matter about the epic crossing and others. It was a life changing meeting - what he had achieved and what he went through buried itself deep into my spirit. I was full of respect and awe. And then some 25 years later there is this guy called Mal Law who was going to run 50 mountain peaks in 50 days consecutively... Mal was also raising $250k for the Mental Health Foundation & he aptly called himself chief nutter! I joined him for day 31 a very memorable day because I made some good friends that day and achieved my first ever mountain marathon in one day. For me Mal made the achievement of truly amazing human endeavours very real for me. So if you like, Ranulph planted the seed and Mal fertilised my idea (amongst a few others) for the Cape Reinga to Bluff Relay.

How much a part of your life is trail running?

I have suffered with severe depression and running, being on the trails out in nature, is my best prescription for keeping depression a distant memory. My life now revolves around my running more or less. If I look after my running my running looks after me - both my physical and mental health - whereby I am in a much better place to support others.

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

I am a carpenter by trade and ventured into project management about 20 years ago. I miss seeing the fruits of my labours day to day. I enjoy being part of great teams completing great projects.

Andrew's closing thoughts...

I love the quote "never fear failure only fear never trying" (Roy T. Bennett.) That's how I'm approaching this Cape Reinga to Bluff Relay'ish project. It's going to be an amazing journey that I hope at least a few Wild Things will join in some way or other. We need sponsors, donations, lead runners/walkers, support runners/walkers, support crew. Check out the website for more.

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Rob Hammington

Rob Hammington

72 year-old Rob Hammington from Tamahere, Hamilton has been running trails for almost 4 years.

He is one of the organisers of the Kirikiriroa Marathon.

He gets more joy from persuading and motivating others to enter and succeed in events than he does from his own, not insignificant, achievements.

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Where are your favourite runs?

Rotorua trails associated with the Tarawera Ultra or Marathon/50km events.

What types of trail do you most like to run?

Forest running, near lakes.

Do you prefer solo or group runs?

Group runs are by far my favourite. Being inherently lazy, solo running is not my strong point.

How important is competing to you?

As a slow but determined plodder, I don't see myself as 'competing' with anybody except myself.

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

Running across the finish line of the TUM 63km event in February 2017.

What's your most memorable run ever?

TUM 63km was particularly memorable as I was able to run the last 25km with my daughter Lisa who happened to be starting lap 4 of the relay just as I reached Tarawera Falls.

What's your next big goal?

Tarawera Trail 50km in November 2017.

What's your favourite run food?

Tailwind meets all my nutritional needs, other than that I eat very little on trail runs.

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

I struggle with personal motivation, but love heading out to do informal group training runs with lots of mates. That gets me out of bed every time, early!

What's your favourite time of day to run?

Morning.

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

Kerry Suter and Ali Pottinger area my mentors, they supported me hugely during the Squadrun training that got me across the line at TUM 2017. My ultimate heroine would be Mary Fisher, she completed over 60km of the 2017 Tarawera Ultra with no sight.

How much a part of your life is trail running?

Very important, it gives me a focus in life and keeps me breathing!

What are the biggest challenges you face regarding trail running?

Meeting cut-off points is always a challenge, but thus far I have met every one except TUM 2016, which caught out hundreds of others also.

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

At one of my first TUM events, I tumbled head over heels down a bank when traversing Tennents Track between Blue Lake and Okareka. A guy running behind me yelled out "Nine", (giving me a score out of ten!)

What other sports or pastimes do you enjoy?

Gardening is my only other interest.

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

I have a few significant events lined up for each year. I will train a little, and then just turn up and go plod plod plod until somebody puts a medal around my neck.

How much and how often is 'formal' training included in your routine?

Very little, I am totally undisciplined when it comes to training.

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

I enjoy waking up every day, finding that I'm not dead yet!

Rob's closing thoughts...

I get more joy from persuading and motivating others to enter and succeed in events such as the Kirikiriroa Marathon than I do from my own achievements. My personal motto is 'Only those who will risk going too far will ever know how far they can go'.

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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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