Finish: Mavora Lakes Road (2,797km)
Distance for the 2 days: 130km
Cumulative distance: 2,797km
Distance to Bluff: 257km
Distance-wise it’s been a productive couple of days which has been great for overall progress and therefore morale. The main factor to contend with has been the heat; we’re in the middle of a long spell of high pressure down the bottom of the South Island, and the middle-of-the-day temperatures really do crank up. Anyway, I’d rather it that way than cold and wet, I think I’ve had my fair share of that stuff. And there are always plenty of rivers to cool off in…..
Frankton to Glenorchy was a long and mentally tough section along the northern shore of Lake Wakitipu, mostly on the road. To be honest, it wasn’t much fun. I made an early start leaving the van at 6am, and was through Queenstown by 7am. It had clearly been a big night in town the night before with the clear-up operation in full swing with bottles and cans bursting from the bins in the lakeside parks – oh, what a contrast to my current regime I thought. On leaving Queenstown I then set about the 44km road section to Glenorchy, tackling it in 10km chunks with regular food and drink stops to counter the boredom and the heat. The road was deceptively tough, never really remaining flat for anything more than a few hundred metres, and with some stiff climbs over the rocky outcrops falling into the lake. The views did however make up for it, particularly during the second half. It took a lot of effort to maintain a reasonable running pace on the flats and descents even, but actually the longer I went on the better I got, and towards the end it even felt comfortable. I wanted to get the leg complete by late lunch so I had the remainder of the day to make a relatively relaxed crossing of Lake Wakitipu.
So I successfully completed the 53km (total) leg by 1.30pm and I was in good spirits having done so, albeit feeling overheated to the core. After lunch I took a snooze and then psyched myself up for the paddle – perhaps I was feeling a little too mellow – but the road running had definitely taken it’s toll and my ankles were swollen. Eventually we hit water around 4.30pm. It was a beautiful afternoon for paddling even though the wind had got up slightly from the mill pond morning. With the wind behind us and an incredible mountain backdrop, it was an absolute delight, and possibly the easiest 10km of the journey so far.
|Crossing Lake Wakitipu|
|Breakfast at Greenstone|
The motorhomes couldn’t get round to the get out point at Greenstone Landing on the far side of the lake so Mark and I setup camp for the night, and we both felt incredibly privileged to be camping in such a beautiful and peaceful spot. The super relaxed ambience was definitely good for my mood and karma at a time when each day of running is such a huge physical and mental challenge. We settled down for an early night under a moon lit sky.
|Reaching the shore at Greenstone|
|The view from camp|
Setting off from Greenstone Landing at 6am this morning, after a great camp breakfast pulled together by Mark, I was at the start of a remote 50km section crossing the rugged and raw Greenstone/ Mavora valleys which run parallel to the Thomson Mountains. Trail conditions were mixed, but generally quite rough once past Greenstone Hut where I stopped to find people still eating their breakfast! But I enjoyed being fast and light with just my day pack, and enjoyed tackling some valley trails without too much climbing to ruin my legs. The unevenness and lack of a properly formed trail was once again a frustration for which patience is the only solution.
I hopped from hut to hut, setting mini time goals for each one, all of which I met. I think I was running well as opposed to the targets being too soft, but it was all a bit of a self mind game really. I would have a small sandwich and another snack or two at each one, another lure to get me through – food always works. But I made great time, the dry conditions really helping across the normally waterlogged sections, and eventually I popped out at the pre-arranged meeting place, Mavora Lakes Campground. The support guys hadn’t made it round quite yet, it was 4pm and perhaps I was a little faster than expected, so I settled in the long grass and enjoyed a moment to myself. It was the first time since 6am that I had taken a real rest. The days have all been long on the trip, but there was still more to come for the day. Once they did arrive and I had refueled a bit, it was back on the trail for another 2 hour session. This was the Mararoa River Track, an absolute beauty which meandered through ancient beech forests along the waterside with a rich green carpet of moss. Very special. Occasionally I got hit with some of the horrible rooty boggy bits which seem to come hand-in-hand with the New Zealand forests, but blasting the nice bits far outweighed that.
So with those two big back to back days complete, I’m now just a smidgen over 250kilometres from Bluff. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about the finish now. I’m starting to visualise the end, and think about the day I wake up and don’t need to run. That is starting to appeal more and more. This has been quite some journey, and my body is starting to get rather weary.
|Feeling the heat and fatigue|
|A brief moment to pause|