Hillary 2016

Some reflections on the Hillary Trail race I just did.

I started to think, what can I do that’s bigger than a marathon? I started reading about longer runs, and they were all on trails, and I’ve kind of enjoyed the trails. There is very little in the way of organised runs in NZ over 42km, and as a marathoner, I thought I want to go further, so I only looked at things over 60km. It seemed that there were 3 options, the Hillary, Tarawera and one in the South Island. Tarwera had more appeal, as more people have heard of it, but the Hillary was on my back door step, and I could run it before hand, so I choose the Hillary.

Angela my wife brought me an entry for the Hillary for my 40th Birthday; she joked it was cheaper and better than a blonde and a convertible. At this stage (June 2015) I was already running 32km a week around Totara Park trails in all weather and enjoying it. On a good day I would average 5:50/km for those 30km, on a slow day, 6:20/km. I was confident that if it rained, I would so have this race nailed. I loved the wind and the rain and just slogging on. I would run with no food, and 500mL of water.

As time drew closer, I realised that I would need to eat, so I experimented with food. I came to settle on apples, bananas, jam sandwiches and nut bars. I would eat dry (nut bar/sandwich), then fruit, then dry… And I would of course drink to wash the food down. But it really was drinking for digestion, rather than hydration.

As summer came, I happened across and article highlighting ultra-runners, and one top one in the US would run with a straw hat. He looked great, and I thought I’m going to wear a hat like that too. I ended up tying the hat to my bag with a thin rope, and threading that through an eyelet in the hat. I got funny looks from other runners and a fair bit of ribbing, but it really is the ultimate hat. When I had had enough of it in the bush, I’d just knock it off and it’d sit nicely behind me.


Between Piha and Bethells, after choosing the wrong shoes, and the wrong socks and being overtaken by those I was catching and passing, and then being passed again, and then having to walk up the hills I got to thinking:

I wonder what my motivation was? Why was I doing this at all.