My training for the Taniwha 60km is going really well and last weekend I was due for a back to back long runs at 26km each. Instead some friends and I decided to head to Rotorua for the Blue Lake 24hr Challenge. This ‘Fat Ass’ event organised by Kurt Matthews and Chris Townley, involves no entry fee, no finishers medal and no race t-shirts. My aim for the day was 10 laps of the 5.5km course around the beautiful Lake Tikitapu while others participants were aiming to run the full 24hours. I was interested in taking part in a non-competitive event which was focused on personal challenge and personal rewards.
5:23am My fried eggs are overdone so i’m not sure if i’m going to make 55km today.
8:50 We arrive at the event HQ. We can’t find the race expo or registration but there some people inside a ski club so we go inside.
8:56 I realise my new shorts and old singlet are matching colours and have to quickly change my top so I don’t feel like I’m a soccer player.
8:59 The competitors have an official race photo and briefing
8:59:35 Somebody puts a drone in the sky above us…shit just got real!
9:00 The event begins. The lead pack puts down a solid 5:55 pace.
9:02 My watch isn’t giving me a pace so I turn it on and off.
9:04 Watch still not working so I turn it off and on again.
9:06 The lead pack discuss goals for the day in a non committal manner. Someone mentions there are also road relays on in town today. We decide that the relay race must be for those who can’t run on trails due to injuries.
9:26 As I round a point my watch receives a full signal and gives me my pace. This could possibly the highlight of the race. The thought of it not being on Strava gives me shivers and I feel grateful for the satellites cruising above the Punga trees.
9:30 First lap done. We put a mark next to our name on a whiteboard to indicate our lap count. Some people are ticking others are dashing, it’s all a bit chaotic and awkward.
9:32 Off on my second lap with a bottle of Tailwind. I’m trialling this for my next race.
9:33 The Tailwind Green Tea flavour taste like shit. My second lap is ruined.
10:33 Finished the third lap and try the Green Tea flavour again in a new bottle. It tastes great! Turns out the bad taste was my other bottle which I hadn’t washed since February.
10:35 Michael Hoogeveen has been having a beer for every lap from a crate. Apparently he is not a vomiter but even if he was the soil here is very free draining.
10:40 I haven’t run with anyone since the first lap and I’m farting a lot. I’m not sure if this is because I am running by myself and relaxed or if this is why no one else is running with me. A real chicken and egg situation.
10:43 Still farting. Is that why they call it Tailwind?
11:32 There lots of people walking the opposite direction on the track. Some hot German tourists are ahead so I bust out 500 metres at 3:40 pace as I go past them. Once around from the corner from them I slow down to 5:35 pace.
12:00 The Squadrun team (I assume) have supplied Jetplane lollies next to the whiteboard markers. They are delicious and I am impressed at the clever marketing strategy. Quite similar to the Gideons who donate bibles for hotel bedside drawers.
12:10 There are some Aucklanders ahead on the path so I run slower. I’m hoping the value of my house in Napier will increase if I run next to them for a while.
12:23 The Tarawera Ultra organisers turn up while I’m having a sneaky rest. I flex my calves hoping they might think I’m an elite and give me a free entry to next years race. They don’t notice.
12:43 People keep commenting on how fast i’m doing the laps. They don’t know my mother-in-law is coming for dinner so I have to hurry.
1:02 I pass a lady wearing a tutu. She complains to her friend that I’ve lapped her. Doesn’t she know Tutus create drag?
1:14 The Tarawera organisers are still here so I talk to the guy next to me in an american accent hoping they’ll think i’m an elite this time and give me a free entry. They still don’t notice.
1:16 One more lap to and i’m feeling good. The jet planes are all gone but there are some donuts and coke.
1:30 I’m halfway around the last lap. Legs are a bit sore so I have to dig deep.
1:55 Still can’t find a good song and I’m nearly done so I take a walk break until a better finishing song comes on.
1:59 Finally find a good song so bust out a quick finish. There’s no-one at the finish line but three dogs I give them a pat and i’m done. 55km in 5hrs 2min’s. The other runners are continuing on through the night.
2:05 I realise that although I had carried my camera the whole way I had not taken a single photo.
Altogether 77 runners ran 2500km all in the name of fun!