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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!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Day 52: Merrivale Road (Longwood Forest) to Riverton

Start: Merrivale Road (Longwood Forest) (2,924km)
Finish: Riverton (2,988km)
Distance for the day: 64km
Cumulative distance: 2,988km
Distance to Bluff: 66km

I guess in golfing or football terms, today was the chip on to the green, or the cross into the box. I completed the tough Longwood Forest section, hit the coast, and started the final part of my journey east/ south east towards Bluff. In doing so I have set myself up for a potential finish tomorrow – yippee!

We started the day just inside Longwood Forest, a dense and mature forest of mainly beech, and it wasn’t until 5pm this afternoon that I finally got out. It did make me feel rather trapped, but I coped reasonably well.

The forest runs north to south in a long thin strip, covering a rolling set of hills and (of course) the Te Araroa route follows the ridge and the high ground. The tops of the hills are mostly exposed which is great for the views, but not so great for moving at any kind of decent pace because they’re covered in tussocks and spiky cactus type plants. My ankles were sore all day, and the unevenness of the ground was one of the greatest challenges.

Rough terrain on the exposed tops

I guess I set about the forest task in a rather business-like fashion, focusing on getting the job done, or perhaps I’m just turning into a running robot – that was another thought I had out on the trail! But I was pretty chilled out and moved at a brisk, but not ground braking, pace to make the crossing.

The guys had very helpfully recced accessed points yesterday, so we had a couple of meeting points for food and drink re-supply planned, to help break up the 50km section. However the sections were still long, and it was another warm one, so I probably wasn’t eating and drinking as much as I should have been. The first in the series of peaks on the route was Bald Hill, and I was up there for about 8am, rewarded with some wonderful views of the South Island’s south coast and my first glimpse of the end point, Bluff. When I caught that view I paused and the emotions started coming, so I quickly started running again!

View from Bald Hill towards Bluff.
The last section of Longwood was both bizarre and amazing. Constructed by the Chinese gold miners in the late 19th Century, the perfectly benched track follows a precise contour, and in doing so snakes in and out of all spurs, river cut outs and re-entrants in a quite incredible fashion. Talk about a convoluted way to get from A to B, however I’m sure they had their reasons for constructing it in that manner. Now somewhat dilapidated and overgrown, it offers a great walking route and is a fascinating part of Te Araroa.

I eventually popped out at the Round Hill car park around 5pm, with the crossing having taken 11 hours – a long day already. But to set up a potential finish tomorrow I really wanted to get close to 65km as a total, so I quickly decided to run the 18km leg around Colac Bay and over the headland to Riverton, to achieve that total. After a few glitches navigating the final section I arrived at the overnight stop about 9.30pm, some 15.5 hours after I set off this morning. Another big day with some seriously tough terrain – that’s the ‘hard tramping for you…..

Arriving at the south coast
I’m not going to lie, I was seriously tempted to run all through the night in an attempt to finish the trail at the earliest opportunity, but I came to the conclusion that my swollen feet and ankles are just not up to that, and they need a proper rest before finishing the job tomorrow. So it will be up at 5am for a 6am start with 66km to go until I reach Bluff.

Tomorrow is going to be one seriously special - and I suspect emotional – day. I can’t wait.


Anonymous said...

Soooo close!!! Have a great final (hopefully) day Jez, Woody x

Unknown said...

Sir, this is momentous and epic. savour every last km. Awesome work.

Robert said...

Been a pleasure to share the journey with you via your inspiring blog. Congrats to you and the support team.
Happy running!

Russa said...

Nearly there. A massive, massive achievement!

I have loved following your journey and I must say you write as well as you obviously run!

Unknown said...

Sea looks nice there too Jez! we shall raise a mug of hot soup in your honour tomorrow morning on our weekend paddle with the kayak club in Poole Dorset. Well done indeed sir!!!

Unknown said...

Very best of luck for the final leg, although I doubt you need it. It's been a fantastic story and I've loved following it.

Have a great day tomorrow!


Anonymous said...

Good luck for your final day. It's amazing to think what you have achieved. Looking forward to your next blog! Love Lucy xx

Anonymous said...

Hi Jez, we have been following your progress through this blog and in speaking to your Mum. What you have done is really inspiring. Good luck for the final day. Tom and Jennie Madden

Anonymous said...

All the best on the final stages of this amazing journey! Claire Madden

Anonymous said...

Your blogs make my day! sounds as though tomorrow is a two Mars Bar effort - i can only begin to imagine the relief, exhaustion and exhillaration you will feel at the end. here's to fine running and a WOW of a finish ! will be raising my tea mug to you in tribute - congrations and much love mouse

Sophie Bragg said...

Rest well tonight and run well tomorrow. Can't wait to find out you've reached that bluff post and are celebrating with a cold beer and your team around you!

Anonymous said...

0530 in NZ so you must be about to start the FINAL leg!

my goodness that beer and icecream will taste good.....hope you are drowned in cheers when you arrive after such an amazing feat of feet ! love m

kzpt said...

I've been following along the whole time but haven't commented... congratulations on an amazing journey and life changing adventure. Thanks for bringing to our attn around the world this incredible track... kudos to your fantastic crew and family!
kristin z, oregon

Anonymous said...


Good luck for the final few and rewarding kilometres. It has been great to follow your blog.

You never fail to inspire.

Anonymous said...

jez you are truly amazing and I have loved follwing your journey. Your blog has kept us all up to date. Enjoy tomorrow with your team you all certainly deserve a few beers and an eat all you can buffet of your choice.

The Cadburys said...

Can't believe you're near the finish line, savour these last few kms, we're so proud of you. Enjoy your celebrations with all your amazing team! We'll be raising our glasses of NZ Savvy B for you! Tom, Kate and Josh xxx

The Cadburys said...

Can't believe you're near the finish line, savour these last few kms, we're so proud of you. Enjoy your celebrations with all your amazing team! We'll be raising our glasses of NZ Savvy B for you! Tom, Kate and Josh xxx

Unknown said...

Just one more bowl of porridge to go ( for me that is ). Can't believe it's almost done and dusted. It's been an incredible adventure to follow.
Best of luck on your final day Jez from Steve and Nicky.

Kaz said...

Every night I get my 2.5 yr old and 15 week old boys to bed and after tidying up their toys / mess I crash on the sofa and catch up on your journey and I feel like I'm back in NZ up to adventures. I'm sure going to miss it. Hope you enjoy tomorrow. An absolutely fantastic achievement, Jez. Well done. That said - you don't know endurance until you've looked after a toddler and a baby for 13-14 hours straight! ;-) Congrats again.

mike w said...

Been away for a week with no computer so have not been able to follow the last bit , a real shame , you have done an amazing feat ,you must have amazing feet as well!! well done to all hope all goes well on the last bot and will be in touch via Mark soon Mike W

Nigel Taylor said...

Extraordinary . Now so close. I trust you will have a rest at the bluff before the return run back to North Island . All the best .

Unknown said...

Fantastic blog! Been following it religiously. =]