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Welcome to my blog which I hope to develop with some interesting material on ultra running both on the trails and road including reports on races and interesting training runs, views on kit and equipment as well as anything else I find of interest. I love running for adventure, opportunity and well being. Enjoy!

Monday, 31 December 2012

Being Jez's North Face Trainer: Day 18 - By James Ashwell

Start: National Park (1,113km)
Finish: Bridge to Nowhere (1,191km)
Distance for the day: 78km
Cumulative distance: 1,191km

That's me....in the centre. I'm his favourite!

2200 - Outside the camper van: I hurt. I really hurt. Mentally and physically. I have pounded the mud, gravel, Tarmac, and today even volcanic lava, for over 14 hours a day, every day for 17 days. I have covered 1113km with hardly any rest. My rubber is inflamed, my laces stretched, and my insoles sore. Why can't he just stop and let me dry off in the sunshine and rest?

Running in the cold and rain around 8pm
2330: Thank goodness he at least had the sense to put me under the camper van step to shield me from the heavy rain. I got wet enough today, the last thing I need now is rain. It's almost midnight, and we started at 0630 this morning, why are the lights still on in that van? Why doesn't he just sleep so that I can stop worrying that he might come out and use me? It's that blog. After a full day of running he comes back, drops me off outside, showers, eats and then writes his blog. I don't understand why he doesn't just forget the blog and give in to his deep and overpowering fatigue.

0000: Finally the lights have gone out. Thank goodness. I have the next 6 hours off duty. Sleep time.

0300: I was told it was summer in New Zealand, so why has it been raining every day for a week. I just want to be dry.

My view of one of the buildings along this remote track

0630: There it is again - the clicking of the gas cooker. They are up and making breakfast. It's almost time. At least he won't use me to go to the shower block. That's what his sandals are for. I get another hour to lie in.....yawwnnnn. I doze off again.

0700 - Leaving the car park at National Park: No, no. Be gentle, I'm sore all over. He has put those feet back into me. I am a mess and I'm made of tough stuff, so how are his feet not a rotten mess? It's not even 0700 yet, it's cold, raining heavily and this guy still wants to run. At least it's Tarmac. Tarmac is clean.

1000 - Crossing the Erua Forest, East of National Park: Not more mud, please. There
we go, wet and muddy again. We have covered another 14kms through forest and over a
ridge. At least it's downhill a bit now.

1200 - Following the Retaruke River North: As I'm bashed relentlessly against the ground, with a never endless rhythm, I wonder why is he doing this? As I look up each time I'm swung forward I can see that he looks strong and determined today.

We have covered another 18km along this gravel road and his pace has not slowed. The valley, from what I can see of it from this low perspective, is stunning, yet littered with decaying colonial outposts. I heard that the New Zealand government tried to build a community here by giving large plots of land to soldiers returning from WW1, but that it was too remote even for them and the community collapsed with the last settler leaving in the 40's. However, don't quote me on that. My eyelets are very small and so I can't see or hear too well.

The trail is littered with these decaying colonial houses

I can see the camper van in the distance. Van = rest. He sits. I swing freely. Such bliss. He always sits on the plastic sheet that the blond guy with the beard keeps putting out in haste every time that we arrive. I think he is trying to protect the seats in the camper van from Master's sweat. I don't get that luxury, it pours down onto me all day. He has yet another Coke, more chocolate and a Sprite. I feel sick watching what he forces himself to eat, and I don't even have a gastric system.

1400 - Heading East along Oio Road towards Whakahoro Camp: The sun has taken the place of the rain. Sweat has replaced precipitate. Either way, I am still wet. The run has been long today, but he still looks strong. Every 8kms I get a brief rest when the blond guy turns up in the camper van and forces Master to drink yet more Coke and eat yet more chocolate. Except this time it was different. He ate half of a fruit cake with a tub of crème fraiche. Disguising.

I hurt, it has been a long day already, but this trail is picturesque. We (by way, when I say 'we' I mean the three of us; me, master and my twin. I don't get on well with my twin, we are identical, but he does everything I do but the opposite. We are always passing by each other in such a rush, and never have time to talk) have been running along a trail that follows a river for the past few hours. The valley sides are steep and impressive with jungle spilling down onto the trail, after which the jungle clings to the side of the trail above an impressive drop to the furious river below. I am enjoying this stretch.

Stunning scenery

1500 - Arriving at Whakahoro Camp: Its lunch time and we have already ran 55km in 8 hours. I was hurting when I woke up, now I have gone beyond pain. Master is a machine.

This is most definitely a frontier hamlet. We are several hours drive down a dirt road to even reach the nearest town, and that town is a frontier town with just a few houses. This is remote.

An example of the buildings in this remote outpost

He sits in the van, on the sweat proof sheet, and has lunch. This is good. Lunch means 15 minutes without his frame pressing down on me. I'm hungry. I look up and see that the blond guy has made him an enormous pasta dish covered in melted cheese. Master eats a lot. Today he has had a large bowl of porridge with banana and honey, a tea, a cooked English breakfast, four cans of Coke, two cans of Sprite, a bottle of sparkling water, another bowl of porridge with another banana and sugar, two 400g bars of chocolate, a fruit cake, a huge bowl of pasta with ham, bacon and cheese and a pint of orange and lemonade....and it it only lunch time.

Normally he makes me run 68km a day, so that means I should only have 11km left. Except, I've seen the sign to today's finish point - Mangapurua Landing - and it's over 40km away. Is this guy crazy? Can't he read the sign. "Look" i try to shout, but he has tied my laces so tight that my tongue is pressed firmly against the ridge of his foot gagging my speech. The sign says that this section should take 13hrs to walk or 6hrs by bike. It is 1500, so he can't possibly think about running this section now. I can hear him tell the blond guy that he is going to go for it. This will mean that we run 95km today, over 15hrs. Master is very tough.

My view of the sign - suggested 13hrs - Master and I achieved it in 6hrs

1530 - Leaving Whakahoro for Mangapura Landing: He says goodbye to the blond guy that keeps making him eat. Just as we are off down the trail we meet a local cowboy. He has 5 sheepdogs. Master is enjoying talking to the cowboy. I am not enjoying the dogs. 5 dogs means high statistical probability of dog pooh. I am running almost 100km today, having my back pressed into dog pooh would be the last straw.

Don't ask how I took this shot - he must have taken me off to get some fresh air to his feet....

As he says goodbye to the last person that we will see for 40km, and we run into the forest, I am thinking about that sign. It says that this section will take 13hrs, it's now 1530. It's going to be a long night. I'm pleased that I saw him pack the head torch. I hate stepping on things that I can't see.


Anonymous said...

Love it - nice one trainer.

Just make sure the shorts don't start blogging!

Happy new year trainers, and to Mark and James' trainers as well

Sarah Wastell said...

Gem, mum and I are in hysterics! Well done Jamie! Happy new year to you guys and lots of love xxxx

Chris Mayes said...

Unbelievable! Truly remarkable. Happy New Year. Go with speed...good health and good fortune.

Sheralyn said...

Fantastic, well done Jamie, I will never look at trainers in the same light again! Have a fantastic new year. xxxx

Steve Mee said...


Sophie Bragg said...

Well done blonde guy with the beard!

This account of the poor trainer's epic endeavours is brilliant. Really funny. I bet the head torch has some stories to tell....

S x