New Zealand – Day 1 – Back in the mountains

So, just 10 weeks after the Northburn 100 miler, I find myself back in Central Otago on a little break and with the chance to do some running too. I arrived last night into Christchurch, spent the night there and after a lazy lie-in gradually made my way down to the place I’m staying at, just outside Wanaka. I have to say that it’s stunning, and not quite where I thought I’d be staying to be honest. The little B&B I’m in is 20kms outside Wanaka on the road down to Queenstown and it’s in the middle of nowhere – Brilliant! Just what the doctor ordered.

The even better thing is that right on my door step are some mountains and to top it all off, some fire trails that lead straight up them too. The lady that owns the place told me there’s a 50km out and back up the fire trail to the top of the mountains and the ski resort that’s up here – excellent, so that’s tomorrow’s run sorted!

Unable to resist a little exploration upon arrival, I had around 1.5 hours until it got dark, so I decided to head straight up the hill for a 13km out and back. The beauty is that it’s straight up, and then back down again, so it’s going to make for a great run. Tough uphill work for the first 25kms, then some cruisy downhill for the return journey. In a way, it’s a little like Northburn all over again and I must admit that I do love this type of running, it’s probably my favourite type of trail running. Don’t get me wrong, I love the bush, but I seem to like mountain running more I think. If I had a couple of million in the bank, I’d buy a mountain cottage and live and run all day, every day in the mountains. Period.

The little 13km run was also a good chance to road test the Merrell’s properly too. Although still fire trail, there was plenty of loose rocks and gravel on the track to run over and to see what they’re made of. I’m pleased to say that again, so far, so good. Yes you do feel the odd rock and stone, but no more than the Nike Frees, and to be honest, these just feel a whole lot tougher too.

My chiro had suggested that to provide some extra padding, that I might consider putting some of my old Nike Free insoles in there and cutting them to size. A good idea I reckon, and something I may try, but for now, I think I’ll stick with how they’re meant to be used and see how I fare. Like I said in the pre-review, things could be a whole load different after 20,30 or 40kms, we’ll just have to take it nice and steady – but I am looking forward to tomorrow and to tackling that 25km hill. The aim will be to run all of it if I can. I ran the first 5kms of it just now and it’s pretty runnable, probably on average 60-70m of climb per kilometre, so nothing too steep. although what lies beyond the 5km mark, who knows. One thing’s for sure, it’s bloody cold out here. Hasn’t been above 7 degrees all day and on my decent I made sure I put the Montane jacket on to keep warm. Up at 2,000m, it’s going to be chilly.

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I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

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