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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!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Day 9: Stillwater to Ihumatao

Start: Stillwater (543km)
Finish: Ihumatao – nr Auckland Airport (607km)
Distance for the day: 64km
Cumulative distance: 607km
Cumulative moving time:

Today was an exciting day, filled with unusual emotions and unexpected experiences. Stillwater, where we started the day, is just outside Auckland’s northwern-most suburbs along the popular eastern coastline, and now we are parked up at the side of the road close the airport – south of the city. It’s a surprisingly peaceful setting amongst corn fields with far reaching views to the mountains and sea. I have lost my bearings a little, but we are roughly overlooking the Manukau Harbour.

Today was Auckland day and it was always going to be a big one. If I didn’t have so much occupying my mind, I may have felt more emotional about reaching such a major milestone on my journey, but as it was, I approached it in a relatively business-like manner so it didn’t become too-longer day.

The day started with another estuary crossing about 3km in. The guide book described it as a hip height wade at low tide, so with the tide being close to low level, I remained positive about negotiating it quickly. It turned out to be more like shoulder height. Although my feet did just about remain in contact with the bottom for the full crossing, it may have been easier to actually swim, because another few inches of depth and I would have been afloat. In reality I should have had a dry bag with me and just accepted it as a swim - it probably would have been simpler. Anyway, once I was semi dry and my shoes and socks were back on (they should have stayed on to start with) I was able to get going again. I find such breaks so early in the day quite difficult to deal with, the reason being my timings go wrong, and feel like I’m on the back foot for the rest of day. I reality, I know there is usually a healthy dose of optimism built into my target times, but how else do you push on without a target to aim at?

The route down the coast weaved around a lot, but generally involved cliff top paths, beaches, suburban walk ways and bit of pavement. It was strange have people around after such long spells of solitude in my journey so far, but I enjoyed taking it all in. I reached the launch point for the Auckland (Waitemate) Harbour crossing soon after 12.30pm having run a good 30km, and we launched at around 1.00pm. The crossing was quite choppy, with wind chop and eddying water, but Mark and I both felt comfortable and we whizzed across with a nice tail wind. The get out point in the marina was pretty spectacular, and right in the heart of it. I then paid a trip to the Auckland The North Face store, chatted to a few of the guys there, and eventually got back on the trail about 3pm.
Paddling across the harbour to Auckland city centre

The Te Araroa Trail Trust deserve a great deal of credit for the route they have pieced together running south from the city centre. Linking a series of campuses, green spaces and interesting buildings/ landmarks, I felt I got a petty good flavor of the city in the 3 or so hours it took to move through. And then, before I knew it, it was back out into the open again, running a nice coastal section into the airport area. I didn’t expect too much beforehand but was more than pleasantly surprised.

And whilst I did all that (the easy bit), the guys were retrieving the kayaks, dropping them back at the hire shop, cleaning and returning the hire car ready for return and running other errands to make the most of being in the Auckland area.

And to wrap it all off, I also had a great leg massage from superstar ‘H’ who was also there earlier in the day supporting with friends as we completed the paddle. It couldn’t have come at a better time. She would make a welcome recruit to the team if she wasn’t quite so heavily pregnant! Thanks H.

I’d be happy with more days like that. 

Getting my legs sorted out at the end of the day

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