Christchurch Half & Marathon 2019 Results

Christchurch is well known for producing great running conditions for their marathon. This time wasn’t one of them. In atrocious conditions running was tough, and stories of hypothermia and the inability of fingers and hands to function were the rule, not the exception. We had Martin Ferry (2.54) and Sue Hunter (3.56) doing the marathon, and Grace Ritchie (1.22), Sandra Jensen (1.49) the half. Paul Ritchie was doing the 10k,  as well as 2018 Hawk and now Canterbury University runner Olivia Ritchie (3.03) also lining up in the full.

Christchurch Half report

By Sandra Jensen

I would seem that I am destined to run rainy half marathons on Queens Birthday weekend. Last year was the Mount Joggers half which was near torrential but I ran a nice time and had fun. By comparison that same event this year was cool but clear blue skies. Why didn’t I do that one again? Because I was doing the Christchurch marathon half instead.

I signed up last year and had not trained at all. Sure I’d run a marathon in that time (badly) and a lot of running in general including pacing a few halves but I hadn’t actually gone out to do a good time for a half in a long time. I’m a chronic under-trainer. I am too busy hence the now swearing off all marathons. I have better things to do.

Christchurch was wet when we arrived and cold. The flooding in the region was still evident as we landed. We checked into race rego and went to find our hotel. The google map lady with the bad pronunciation kept taking us the long way but we found the “Rendezvous” chosen because of the seedy name and settled in.

I had decided that with my lack of training I would hang with the 1 hr 50 pacers but in the end I never saw them, instead keeping ahead of them the whole race. Race day though was cold and wet and cold and a little bit more cold. I probably wore more clothing than I had ever for any race and none was removed during the run. My legs went numb and I worried about chaffing mainly because I couldn’t feel it if it was happening so feared and longed for a hot shower after the finish. 

The 19th km was my slowest, the legs were dead. the last 2 km weren’t so bad but it was almost a km from when you caught site of the finish line and that was a very very long km. The legs could not sprint, and I was numb, cold and very wet. Why I reached for a cold drink at the finish is beyond me.

I finished in 1 hr 49 mins and 25 seconds. By no means my fastest half but given the conditions and lack of training, I’m happy. Sue Hunter managed her sub 4 hr and my husband Mark produced a cold beer for her husband Steve who completed his first half in under 2 hrs. I’ve never seen such a happy face after a beer.
Christchurch marathon would be not a bad run in slightly better conditions as it’s predominantly flat (go figure) and it’s also hard to not contemplate how scarred the city still is. 

I reckon we will be back for that one.

Whitianga Race Report

Report by Helen Hall-King

Last year it was Noosa, this year it was Whitianga, There were many similarities to the annual Hawkettes weekend away – beach, shops, wine and laughter – but first you had to race.

It’s not just road relays that have pre-weekend dramas.  Wendy H could not find her favourite running shorts.  The house was turned upside down and inside out, the fridge and washing machine were pulled out, draws were searched (they are now very tidy) but still they were not to be found.  The sunglasses she lost six months ago were.  Oh dear, the next best pair would have to do.

Friday afternoon/evening came and we were away.   Stopping in Tairua for a stretch of the legs was needed.  While waiting for the next car to arrive a shop was spied across the road.  Let’s look in there – that was it – shopping was commenced.  Purchases were made and off we went.

Our house was found. Very flash.  Thanks Wendy H for the e-mails to and fro to make sure we had everything covered.   Race numbers were then needed to be collected so off to the Whitianga Hotel for these.  All that can be said about this experience is that it took a while and perhaps they could have some lessons on how to sort a spreadsheet!

Dinner was pot luck and with race strategies sorted early to bed it was, and there were plenty of them – one each for all nine of us, together with three bathrooms and four toilets (essential for race morning!)

Race morning dawned bright and windless.  Pre-race rituals were attended to and then it was off down the road to the race start.  Only being 1.3km from the start line made it a short stroll with no parking worries.
Wendy H and Helen went down first.  The ½ marathon started at 9.00 with the 10km due to go at 9.20am.  Very much ladies hours but we coped with that!  Warm up went well and just prior to our start the rest of the group arrived.  Time for a photo (thanks Chris) and then we were away.  The first 5km was very chaotic.  Out 2.5km and then back 2.5km followed by two 8km laps.  Sounds simple but you were continually running into runners coming back towards you and the path was not very wide.  Then, the 10km started and you were then running into 10km runners who had to run out 1km, back 1km and then do one 8km lap.

Anyway, we managed to negotiate that and continue on our merry way.   The course was flat and fast and conclusive to fast times and there were enough people entered to be able to have someone around you the whole time you were out on the course.   One the second lap you were passing the 10km walkers so still had people in your sights the whole way.  Wendy (I’m never doing another one again) ran a controlled race to finish to run a PB just a shade over 2hrs.  Helen placed 10th women, 2nd in her age group and ran a time 3mins faster than last year.  

The 10km had the balance of the Hawkettes taking part.  Their race started running into the ½ marathoners coming back towards them so was congested but this did not deter from their great runs.  After the disaster of last week’s Hawkes Bay 10km (poor organisation on the part of the organisers), Annette was looking to have a stress free, uncluttered run.

Ultra Trail Australia 100k – race report

Report by Marcus Daws

I’ve always enjoyed reading everyone’s race reports but have always been terrible at actually contributing to the pool. However, after my last race I figured it was about time to put finger to keyboard. 

In recent years, kids and business have been my excuse for consistently ‘average’ running. Turning up under-prepared and bluffing my way through races has been fine but with a significant birthday coming up I was looking for a bit of a challenge and stumbled across the Ultra-trail Australia. I suddenly found the butterflies flapping in my stomach, there would be no way to bluff this one, with 4,400 metres elevation and over 10,000 stairs to tackle this was meant to be a seriously gruelling 100km ordeal, perfect! I signed up and actually did some proper training. the fire was lit!

Fast forward… on the start line and what a buzz, the UTA is a monster of an event and the atmosphere was pumping. So naturally I went out too fast on the first few k’s along the road before getting into the race proper. Once off the road you drop down the Ferber steps. 951 steps to drop you down into the Blue Mountains knowing that I’d be coming back up them at the very end of the run, something to look forward to all day. We navigated through some very technical terrain (lots more stairs) until we finally got to some good runnable trails, so I settled in and found my rhythm and started ticking off some k’s.

This race has a big dropout rate (18% this year was a record low) and I was chatting with a fella around the 30k mark who was on his third attempt, one year he pulled out with heat stroke and last year it was a knee issue. Almost as soon as we discussed it my knee started to complain as my ITB flared up. I did my best to ignore it and trundled on but struggled more and more with anything downhill. Heading uphill was fine and I stormed up Nellie’s Glen and into the 57k checkpoint where there was a Physio who gave it a quick loosen up and some strapping. I also got accosted by the kids who did their support crew role well, pinching my food and hiding my shoes but they certainly made my day. So after a leisurely 25 minute stop it was time to get out and get this done, just a little marathon left to go.

The next stage was very up and down through the Leura Forest, stunningly beautiful with waterfalls and views of the sunset over the mountains but as the headlight went on it was time just to get down to business and get this done, my knee was screaming and I went past two people who had pulled out with the exact same thing, those damn stairs. Anything downhill was becoming impossible and I knew coming up I had the Kedumba pass, 8k straight downhill to the valley floor before the final 12, straight back up to the finish. Forced to a walk by this stage I just had to suck it up. Off in the distance I could see the lights from the finish line illuminating the 3 sisters, a famous rocky outcrop that was lit light a beacon calling me home. I switched off my headlight and did most of this section with just the full moon lighting my way, just magical!

So to finish it off, it was back up the Ferber steps which to be fair were a piece of cake, they’ve got nothing on the Haks and I was running high on adrenaline as you can hear the finish line 2k out (Kerry Suter on the microphone). I managed my unofficial goal of finishing before midnight and came in at 16hrs49 for the bronze belt buckle. 

It wasn’t pretty but I definitely found the challenge I was searching for. The Blue Mountains are really quite magical and the views around every corner take your breath. The event itself is amazing and the atmosphere and support around the course it second to none. If you’re looking for a big challenge, stick this one on your bucket list.