Start: Oharui Valley Road (1,595km)
Finish: Island Beach (1,623km)
Distance for the day: 28km
Cumulative distance: 1,623km
The plan for today was ambitious, and unfortunately I didn’t quite pull it off, but we remain positive with a new day tomorrow and a good looking forecast.
I set off from the van on the final North Island run section at 6.30am, and made good progress, enjoying the climb up the Old Coach Road to Mount Kaukau which provided my first view of Wellington and the Cook Strait beyond. What an incredible city; much of the residential suburbs perched on the hillside and the CBD condensed close to the harbor. It’s a city of hills, but the route was very enjoyable, following the Northern and then the City to Sea Walkways, mostly around the parks, botanical gardens and green lanes to finally reach the south coast of the North Island. By no means an easy ‘about town’ run…..
Like Auckland, I really enjoyed the opportunity to run through the city and to take a bit of it in, albeit at a rather un-leisurely pace. I was on a tight schedule because I wanted to get to the run finish by 11am, and then to complete the bike link leg to Makara Beach by 12.30pm, where the guys would be ready and waiting to hopefully start the Cook Strait kayak crossing early afternoon and be across before dark (I told you it was ambitious).
Having exchanged a few tweets last night with a local runner, Jonathan Williams, he was ready and waiting at the high point of the botanical gardens to run with me for the last 15km or so. And what a great help he proved to be, helping me to safely navigate the wiggly route, checking signs and generally being great company. We had plenty to talk about being fellow UTMB veterans, amongst other races. It was hot and sweaty work, never comfortable easy running, but somehow an appropriately challenging and rewarding end to the North Island leg.
I got quite emotional when I saw the Island Bay beach – the North Island finish point - for the first time. So much focus and determination goes into every step of a journey like this, so when a big milestone like this comes along, the memories and emotions do tend flood through. I’m not sure the families enjoying the sunshine on the beach really knew what was going on when a sweaty runner suddenly arrives excitedly, strips off, and takes a swim whilst shouting “yes, North Island done!”.
It was a fairly brief celebration because I was already behind schedule, so without too much delay I hopped on the bike and started the tortuous journey to Makara Beach, our launch point for the Cook Strait kayak crossing. It was quite some ride over some big hills, and my legs weren’t too happy with it, but I slowly got the job done.
Arriving at Makara Beach I didn’t really know what to expect. I guess I slightly naively thought there was still a chance we would cross, but the wind on the descent down to the beach seemed quite strong, so deep down I think I knew it was a bit iffy.
Tim Taylor (Mr New Zealand kayaking….), our kayak guide for the crossing, was waiting at the beach and came straight up to me to explain that conditions had worsened and it wasn’t on for this afternoon. I wasn’t all that surprised, but it still took a moment to sink in and for my plans to be re-set. I was fine with the decision, the Cook Strait is not a stretch of water you take lightly, so the idea of an afternoon off and a fresh go at it tomorrow was easy to accept. So tonight we’re enjoying our first night under a proper roof since I started the run. We’re staying at a local B&B, and will be heading back down to the beach at 4.30am tomorrow to hopefully set off on our crossing at 5am. It all feels a bit odd, we foolishly hadn’t planned for a cancelled crossing, so don’t have many possessions with us other than running and kayaking kit – the rest of the gear has gone over to the South Island on the ferry, so I really hope it works out in the morning. Now time for some nervous sleep….!
|Wellington from Mt Kakau|
|Final descent into Island Bay (North Island finish)|
|End of City to Sea Walkway with superstar Jonathan behind|
|A dip in the sea at Island Bay|
|Feeding up before the bike leg|
|With Jonathan at Island Bay|
|Leaving Island Bay on the bike|
|Hanging out with Tim at Makara Beach|
|What a tease - the kayaks all ready to go|