Tramping the Routeburn Track

I woke to the alarm at 5:45am feeling very tired and groggy. I felt like I had just gone to sleep. I needed more sleep, but unfortunately there was no time to get it now. I got up, had a shower, scoffed down some breakfast and headed to the reception desk to check out and meet my bus.

Bruce our driver was a chatty man and I felt sorry that he got stuck with me as I just couldn’t find my words that morning. The body was aching and my brain was not functioning yet. We left Te Anau and picked up some other people along the way, but none of them were going to The Divide, the start of the Routeburn track for me today.

We stopped to let a lady out who lives at Glades House on Milford, she was going to trek over the Dove Pass which we had spotted while on the Milford Track a few days ago, crazy if you ask me but she was obviously an experienced hiker. There was another girl from Poland and one from the Netherlands, they were nice to chat to.

Day 1 – Walk to Mackenzie Hut, 12km

It was pouring rain when they dropped me at The Divide, so I shuffled under the shelter to get my wet weather gear out and convinced another hiker to stand in the rain and take my photo at the start.



The first thing I noticed, aside from the torrential rain, was the technical trail and how steep it was. Underfoot was very rocky and slippery so moving was quite slow on my already tired legs. I’m sure there would have been some beautiful views that day as I spent a lot of it above the treelike, but unfortunately the clouds were blocking the view. I stayed positive and added the uphill side trip to Summit Walk, however the rain just got heavier and the wind picked up so I didn’t stay at the top for very long.




The walk was very tough this day, but so beautiful. The rainforest was a beautiful green colour and the rocks underneath my feet were all the colours of the rainbow. I noticed because I was looking down a lot, trying to make sure that I didn’t trip over.



I passed a hut within the first few kms and there was a little lake just next to it which looked very pretty. There was nobody around to chat with so I kept moving.



I went past several streams and waterfalls, and some very wet sections of the trail. In some parts there was water gushing over the path and you had no choice but to step into and through the water. I had given up trying to keep my socks dry and trudged through making it fun by splashing about. How old am i again? ha ha




There was also a giant worm on my trail, check it out – even looks big next to my size 8 trail shoes!! (below)


Eventually I came to a large waterfall that had a detour for flood’ sign, however I decided to take the trail next the waterfall and chance it. As I was about to start a young girl came out smiling and laughing in front of me, we started chatting and she said that I should definitely go past the waterfall. She said she got soaked but it was the most fun she’d had in ages. So off I went being very careful with my footing and she was right. I was giggling like a school girl and had so much fun getting soaked and cried with happiness, life was good. The photo below does not do it any justice but it was a moment in time I will never forget.



I’m so glad I had gone that way and not chickened out and taken the detour, a risk that paid off thankfully.

I passed a lot of hikers going the opposite way on this trip yet somehow felt more alone than ever, which made me sad at first, and then brave. The trekking was quite hard through this section as there were lots of technical slippery sections to brake your ankles or knees on, but it was like a scene from a movie or postcard. Breathtaking.

LaurenHaileyLumia_20150228_12_40_02_Pro LaurenHaileyLumia_20150228_12_40_07_Pro


I caught up to a lady called Jane who was from Perth and she was going even slower than I was, being very careful. We also saw a (rude) lady come flying past us without responding to a word we said, which was very strange as most people on the trail at least say ‘hi’ and most stop to have a chat and ask you about your journey. Oh well, her loss.

Eventually I got to Lake Mackenzie (pictured below) and I was very glad to see it as I had been getting colder and colder despite my efforts to speed up. My hands were freezing inside my wet gloves.



I scored a bed upstairs and chatted to Jane as she arrived just behind me. I removed my wet gear and hung some inside the hut and some outside under the awning. The dry clothes felt amazing. I grabbed some food and went downstairs to fuel the body and score a nice spot near the fire to thaw out. My stomach had been grumbling on the trail too, but it was too wet to stop and put my pack down so I had my late lunch at the hut when I got there.

I chatted to some really nice ladies who were travelling in the opposite direction to me. I also got chatting to Marg and Ken from Canada who were lovely. Marg and I ended up chatting for hours, then I took some time to catch up on my journal.

Dinner was good and filled the belly very nicely, along with the red wine….. such a nice luxury to have and it would send me right off to sleep later. In fact, I missed the ranger talk this night as I was really starting to feel exhausted, the body was starting to show signs on tiredness and I thought an early night with some extra sleep would be perfect. My calves felt like they were on fire just to touch them and my body had chafe in places it never had before.

The next day was another tough 11+km  of mostly uphill so it was nighty night for me.

Day 2 – Walk to Falls Hut, 11.3km

I woke many times during the night, once for a toilet trip and many due to snoring Suzie above me. Somehow I had developed a knack for choosing beds below snoring people, great!

As soon as it got light I was up and I realised that I had not once yet used an alarm during my treks, funny that. It was raining again and very cloudy which meant visibility would be poor and probably no views for this most picturesque section of the trail. Oh well, I would find the beauty in whatever came my way.

I said goodbye to the lake and gathered all of my belongings. I said farewell to my friends and we exchanged contact emails with the promise to keep in touch and to visit if we were ever in the others country, maybe one day I should visit Canada.



Todays trek started with a large hill through what the girls had called the ‘Fairy Garden’ and that’s exactly what it looked like. It was beautiful and green and felt somehow magical.



On the way up the first hill the views back down to the lake weren’t too bad, see below.




And of course another shameless selfie below, getting soaked and still smiling.



The trail was not as technical as the previous day. The trail wound up and around the mountain and I came across many runners and walkers going the opposite direction, all of them stopping to exchange a few words and encouragements.







A man called Bernard came blazing up from behind me and we chatted a while. He told me there was a side trail coming up called Conical Hill which was about a 1 hour return trip up a hill and back. Thankfully we had somewhere to drop our packs, Saddle Hut, and then we made our way up the hill into the clouds. I’m so glad that we made the side trip as the views were spectacular!

The hidden lake was eerily beautiful amidst the mountains and the grey sky, beautiful. The weather was incredibly windy at the top of the hill (I almost got blown over a few times) and the trail was very steep and slippery, but I struggled up feeling very thankful to be there.





There was even snow on some of the peaks of the mountains so that gives you an idea of how cold it was in this place, although I kept pretty warm on this day and thankfully did not get too wet. It was grey but I was smiling from ear to ear. Being in this beautiful place is hard to describe and the emotions you feel sometimes do not have words.




It was a slow trip back down the mountain and into the valley. I ran into Jane at the hut and a few other people from Melbourne. I made use of the toilet back at the hut and got some food and water into me. Bernard had said farewell and trekked on ahead of me as he had a longer journey ahead of him than I did, and I was thankful for the silence again.

The views along the next section were spectacular. The lake, a huge waterfall that went down the valley and followed the path next to me was beautiful. I can see how this route had become so popular, as it has more view points than Milford.






I went down the last rocky section past a small waterfall (pictured above) and onto the hut (pictured below). I got some dry clothes on to warm up and had a ‘trail shower’. I felt very refreshed and warm after that, but the legs were still struggling.




I then gobbled down my food in the kitchen/dining hut (pictured below) and took a seat next to the window which looked out over the valley below, the route we would be taking on the final day of the trek. I ate so much of my food, I had been starving again and didn’t stop for long to eat, just kept moving to keep warm.



I sat and chatted with Tina from Germany (left most in below photo), Asheem from the USA and Jane who i’d previously met and chatted with (far right in below photo) and played cards.

We were all travelling solo and we got on really well. We even won a game that night which was run by the ranger. You had to guess as many of the languages written on the quilt (second picture below) and we ended up with more than anybody else so we got the chocolate bar. Jane and myself had already gone to bed by the time they had chosen the winner, so Tina brought us some chocolate to have in bed and the rest was shared around to the other hikers.




My dinner was a dehydrated chicken tikka masala and it wasn’t too bad. I washed it down with the last of my wine and felt very sleepy. My bunk had a view of the valley (pictured below) so I put it to good use and then hit the sack. Only one more day to go.


Day 3 – Walk to end of Routeburn Track, 9km

I woke feeling quite sad as it would be my last day trekking. But the smile soon grew on my face when I realised that a long hot shower and decent food would be on the agenda for tonight. I’d woken to the usual hustling of people inside the hut and felt like I’d actually got a decent amount of sleep the night before. I was restless during the night but there was no sign of a snoring person underneath me. Finally!!

I has breakfast (horrible dehydrated, powdery scrambled eggs that made me want to vomit!) with Jane and Asheem while Tina was still sleeping. I had a black coffee which I’d grown accustomed to but didn’t really enjoy. I was craving milk. That’s right, fresh, delicious milk and made a mental note to pick some up when I got back into town. Asheem was heading the opposite direction to the rest of us girls, and both Jane & Tina were on an earlier bus than I was so I had plenty of time up my sleeve.

I packed up my things in the top bunk and couldn’t believe that I had been living out of this pack for the past week. Pretty awesome to think that everything you need you can carry was in one backpack.

And it was still raining so on with the wet weather gear (again!). I stood on the balcony (pictured above) and took in one last mental image of the view into the valley and chatted to some other hikers making their way out onto the trail too.




There were some huge boulders going down the trail today and it was very slippery and wet. As like the other days I stopped to take in the views a few times and they did not disappoint.




I got to Routeburn flats (pictured below) within 30 minutes and the time on the board had said 1 hour, so I must have been moving well again. I felt pretty cold so I went fast to try and keep warm. The rain was drizzling so I didn’t stop to take too many pictures.






These huge boulders were scattered along the waterways and the one pictured below is about 2 storeys in height!!




I crossed a few bridges and the running water sounds filled the air all morning. Speak of water, at one stage I was busting to go to the toilet and was getting worried that I might have to remove my gear and make a side trip into the bush, but just as I was about to get desperate there in front of me was a toilet. I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was out there in the middle of nowhere, no hut in sight, just a toilet all by itself in the woods. Perfect placement if you asked me as I was bursting!






I slowed down for the last section as I had plenty of time and wanted to spend as much of it on the trail as possible, even though my legs were aching. How often would I get to do this, hardly ever, so I was going to soak it up for all it was worth.






Most of the days journey was downhill and the poles came in super handy again, they had been a lifesaver really. I don’t think my legs would have coped at all if I did not have them. And I finally made it to the end of the trail (pictured below) and it sure did put a smile on my face.


There was a little shelter for me to sit and wait for my bus, so I chatted to other hikers who were doing the same. It was just after midday when I arrived. I finished off the rest of my food (which wasn’t very much) and chatted to 2 girls from Israel and 2 guys from Canada. They made the time pass quickly and before I knew it my 2pm bus pick up had arrived.



The bus trip back to Queenstown included a short stop in Glenorchy for people to grab a quick drink/food if needed. But i was feeling so exhausted that I stayed in the bus and had a power nap. Not that it did much good as 2 noisey americans got on the bus and talked at the top of their lungs!! Seriously, they could see that I was trying to sleep too. Just rude! ha ha

We got back on the road after about 20 minutes and soon I was back in Queenstown where I had a 10 minute walk to my hotel (Nomads Hostel). I was booked into a ‘King Room’ and it was lovely, had a balcony and all. The shower was heaven! I’m not sure how long I stayed in there but it was divine!

After wallowing in the shower for what seemed like an eternity I dressed in some non-trekking style warm clothes and headed out the door for some real soon and some milk. I took myself to Patagonia and had a chocolate milkshake with cookies and cream then took myself across to the pub (view from the pub at dinner below) and had Beef Wellington, which I also washed down with 2 pints of beer. The beer went straight to my head (ha ha) and the food was amazing!



It had been a very busy and strenuous couple of weeks and it was starting to hit me physically. I felt very tired after dinner so I headed back to the hotel and packed my gear up ready for my flight home the next day. Once packed I put on my pj’s and watched some telly while catching up on writing my journal.

I was very much looking forward to going home and seeing my beautiful family and friends, but the misty mountains have left me wanting more and more, so i will be back one day soon and hopefully with the hubby this time.

Wishing you safe travels 🙂

After the Marathon, before the Tramping

The night after my marathon I had trouble sleeping, my leg muscles were twitching and I just could not switch off my brain. I think the calls with my Mum and Hubby had made me a little homesick and the temperature in my room was boiling (with no fan), and a thousand bitey insects kept buzzing past my ear. Eventually i dragged myself out of bed at around 6.30am and checked my phone for bookface updates. I was completely overwhelmed to see that more than 200 peple had ‘Liked’ my post and photo from the marathon finish line, possibly the most poplar post I have ever (or will ever) have. I was feeling the love. Thank you all for being so supportive of my journey. A runner often feels very alone but at times like this you realise just how many people you can reach who care and support you in these conquests. I had been feeling so down and you all cheered me up immensely.

I met up with James at Joe’s garage for breakfast and we also ran into some guys from Auckland who I had run with during the race the day before. They asked me what I thought of the race and all I could conjure up was ‘Brutal but Beautiful’, and they agreed. We chatted and finished our breakfasts then went our separate ways. Breakfast was delicious too, make sure you visit Joe’s Garage if you’re ever in Queenstown.

The weather was stunning and so I slowly strolled back to the Rydges hotel along the lakeside. I was lucky enough to run into Jill and her daughter and we had a quick chat about our plans for the next few days. When I got back to the hotel I washed all my clothes and packed my bag ready to check into a new hotel the day. After washing my gear I had a much needed nap in my roon, then headed to the world famous Fergburger. I took the burger and say by the water side (see below photo) and OHMMGEE!!! It was the best burger I have ever had. The meat just melted in my mouth and the sauce was divine. Definitely worth waiting in line for.


I strolled back to the hotel and by this time it was late afternoon and so I took myself to the bar for a well earned drink. After the drink I took myself to the hotel restaurant and they gave me the best seat in the house so I could watch the sunset while I had my meal (see photos below). I had pork with apple sauce and vegetables as the Remarkables lit up in front of me across the lake. I downed a couple of reds with my dinner too and was feeling very tipsy by the time I got to my room, but it helped me nestle off to sleep nicely.



The next day I got up and had my breakfast in the hotel, very expensive and not worth the money. I should have gone to Joe’s!! I scoffed down some food and made my way into the main part of town to wait for my bus to the Shotover Jet. On the way I went past the Fergbaker and bought myself a coffee, the only place open that early in the morning. Thankfully it was good coffee.

I then checked in at the adventure counter and eventually boarded the bus to the Shotover Jet which was only 10 minutes dive away. I had booked the Sunrise Jet at 8.15am (because it saved me $20) so it was quite cool even though the sun was shining. We met our captain Adam who would be driving our boat and I boarded the jet and sat in the second last row on the side. We set off and you could really feel the power of the motors as we skimmed across the water and did 360 turns. It was so much fun!! So much so that I ended up buying a second jet ride (for only $19) and did it all over again!! Woohoo!!




I met the lovely girl (above) who spoke hardly a word of english, but i worked out that she was in New Zealand for Chinese New Year with her parents and having a great time! We smiled and laughed through the whole ride and her Dad took a photo of us (check out my cold, red nose! ha ha).

We got the bus back to Queenstown and i headed straight for my hotel to collect my bags, check out, andthen  walk to the Nomads Hostel which were my new lodgings for the night. My broken suitacase wheel made the trip a little slow (and noisey) but eventually I got there, checked into my double room booked and was relieved to see I had my own bathroom too. The room was actually much nicer than what I’d had at Rydges, and less than half the price too!

I then took myself to the Kiwi Discovery store to pick up my tickets and information about my trip and the lovely Sarah gave me my trek briefings. I took close note of everything she said as I had never trekked before and made a lit in my head of all the foods she recommended that I carry with me over the next week, then took myself to the grocery store to stock up on supplies.

Did I mention that I was trekking Milford and Routeburn back-to-back? Yes, quite optimistic!

After getting the groceries and having Subway for lunch I headed to my room to pack my trekking back pack ready for the next day’s journey. On the way through Queenstown I saw a gentleman roll his piano into the mall and start playing away, he was quite good.



After stuffing everything into my bag and wondering how on earth I was going to carry this contraption I checked my phone to see I had a dinner invite from Jill for Fratelli’s. It was 6.28pm and she had said if i was free to come and meet them. So I quickly got my gear together and raced to the restaurant. They had just ordered so I added mine and we chatted about our days explorations. I had the spaghetti (for the second time) and we laughed and chatted about how Wes had gotten lost on his run up the mountain, and how Jill had spent hours looking for him with her 2 daughters, Ava and Jasmine.

Eventually I had to say goodnight and we all hugged and wished each other well. I’m sure Jill knew I was feeling homesick and they made me feel like part of their family. I was sad to see them go but very thankful to have met them, and i knew I would see them again one day soon.

I took a moment to sit by the water (see below) near my hotel as i soaked up the view before bed. I had achieved and learnt so much in the past week and was feeling excited for my new adventure that started on the Milford Track the next day.


Race Report: Shotover Moonlight Mountain Marathon

It’s here! Last night I finally got around to finishing my race report from the Shotover Moonlight Mountain Marathon in New Zealand which is almost a month ago now!! This race was like nothing I have ever attempted before, so grab a cuppa and get comfortable because it’s a long one.

They day before the race I collected my race pack from the Rydges hotel which was also the hotel where i was staying. I got there at the start of the rego time and the room was already buzzing with people getting their gear checks done. A lovely kiwi lady checked all my gear and gave me my race kit which included a race t-shirt, race bib, timing strap for my ankle, and some sponsor brochures. I chatted to a few other runners and then headed back up to my room to re-pack my things into my race pack ready for the next morning. Having picked up my gear i started to get nervous and some doubts crept into my mind. It always happen to me before a race and luckily I was able to shut out the negative thoughts quickly as i went over my race plan and goals.

My race plan was to finish, well actually my initial race plan had been to ‘try not to die’, but I revised it and thought that a finish would be super. The course had over 2,300m of elevation which meant it was the hilliest marathon I have ever attempted. There were 3 main peaks to conquer and I’d been staring at the elevation chart for months, as it was on display at my desk at work. Seeing the chart on a regular basis helps me to get to know the course a little better, especially when you don’t have the option to do any training on the course. Looking at it scared me a lot, but I do love a challenge! A friend of mine had taken just over 7 hours to complete the course in 2014 and I thought that seemed like a reasonable time to aim for (boy was i wrong, ha ha).

I spent the day resting my legs which included reading a book by the lake for a few hours, going for a dip in the hotel pool & chilling out watching tv in my room. James (from Sydney Striders) and I caught up in the afternoon and had dinner at a quaint little restaurant called Cow in town that was highly recommended. It took us a while to find it as it’s hidden up an alley way. We both had garlic bread and spaghetti bolognese, good carbohydrate loading food. James had not completed his gear check yet so after dinner he went to get his gear while I went to the hotel and stalled the organisers till James could arrive. He got his gear checked and we went for a cheeky beverage at the bar as it was too early to crash. I had a peach cider (which would later prove to be a bad choice!). We chatted about the upcoming race and past trips James had done around the world with rogaining and running, he has done so much and achieved many great feats in his life so far. I was very impressed (and jealous, more to add to the wish list). We finish our drinks and organised to meet at the bus departure point the next morning.

As i headed up to my room I felt a sense of calm and confidence that would stay with me and keep me strong the next day. I hadn’t slept very well for the past week which always happens when i’m away from home. I had visited Auckland for 3 days, plus had a side trip to Christchurch for the Foo Fighters concert (which was awesome!!) and had arrived in Queenstown with 2 days of planned rest before the race. And thankfully I got a good sleep that night (which is rare before a race) so i woke feeling ready to go.

When I got up I had some breakfast (honey on bread and a banana), took a shower and got dressed ready to race. I was wearing my Brooks Adrenaline Trail shoes, BSC compression tights (long) and my Running Wild t-shirt, as it’s the most comfortable running shirt I own (you don’t want something that rubs or is uncomfortable when you know you’re going to be out there a long time). I also had my Salomon S-Lab 12 Hydration Back pack and my fuel for the day would be water (only carried 1L as plenty of aid stations on the course), SIS gels (Orange & Tropical flavor) & Shotz mixed with water in my front 2 flasks (for electrolytes). I have been using this combination with good results for the past year or so, and I wasn’t going to change anything now. I also packed a bag for the finish with some dry clothes and thongs to change into, plus a large feather down jacket in case it got cold.

Once I was ready I headed down to the Queenstown Rafting store where the bus was collecting us at 6.15am, and within a few minutes James turned up and we nervously chatted about our race plans. We managed to score a seat on the first bus out of town which meant that we would also be first in line for the toilets at the start point, score!!

The bus trip to the start line was an experience in itself. Once we got off the main road it was all single fire trail to the start area in Skippers Canyon. The driver was probably going a little too fast for my liking but I guessed that he drove this route a lot so was confident and knew where he was going. I felt a bit of motion sickness halfway through the journey, so there was some very deep breathing took place, especially when you looked out the window and there was a massive (gigantic) drop right next to the bus and i tried not to picture us plummeting to our deaths – eeeeek!

We got to the start area (below picture) and I visited the ladies (the first of 3 trips before the start) before the other runners arrived. The 30km and marathon runners all started at the same point so it was nice to have a big crew assembled here together. I was lucky enough to be given a GPS tracker for the race (thanks Adrian!!), but didn’t have time (or reception) to let anyone back home know about it. So after my final pit stop, James and I lined up to cross the bridge which took us to the start line. It was a very high bridge that used to be used for Bungy, and the more I looked at it the more scared I got. I hate heights and nobody had mentioned this bridge to me. It wasn’t in the race briefing document. Shit!



The next thing I know i’m on the bridge (pictured below), i’m hyperventilating and crying and being steered over to the other side by a lovely lady who I had grabbed, while James made encouraging comments pushing me along. The bridge swayed and bounced and I thought I was going to die. The only thing that kept me moving was the fact that I HAD to cross the bridge to get to the start line, if I didn’t cross the bridge then my whole trip would be for nothing.


I made it over the bridge and i thanked and apologised profusely to the people around me, as I’d never experienced or felt anything like that before. I think it was a panic attack. It was like my mind was out of control and fighting my body that didn’t want to cooperate. I honestly don’t know how I made it to the other side of that bridge, but thankfully I did. And I did not die. I later learnt this bridge was 71 meters above the river below and 95 meters in length, and used to be the highest bungee bridge jump in the world (until Pipeline Bungy’s 103 meter which is just down the road). Below is the view of bridge from the start line, bloody high up if you ask me!!


We all made our way down the hill to the (beach) start and the views were already amazing (below). This was going to be one GREAT race!



Race Director Adrian Bailey gave us the obligatory pre-race information and wished us all well before sending us on our merry way.The energy at the start line was fantastic!

First up was a short soft sand hill followed by the first of many hills to come. The only flat(ish) section of this course was the last few (gradual uphill) kms into the finish at Moke Lake, I was looking forward to that section but it was a long, long way off.

Once we got up the first little hill there was a brief flat(ter) section then another climb, check out the runner-ants in the picture below.



I actually ran over an carcass of some animal during the first couple of kms, I think it was a deer but I didn’t look that closely, all I saw was a lot of fur and horns. Gross!

We crossed a few creeks early on and i chatted to a guy from the Terrigal Trotters, actually I was talking so much that i probably wasn’t paying enough attention to the trail and fell off the side of the mountain at about 6km! I clung to the long grass that grew onto the side of the mountain so I didn’t fall too far, but it was a close call. It reminded me to focus and get into race mode. I must have twisted/jarred my finger when i fell too as it throbbed for the rest of the race (and still feels sore even today).


The scenery is hard to describe with words, breathtaking comes to mind. And although my coach will kill me for stopping to take photos, I only ever took one photo of the same view and never stopped for longer than 4-5 seconds (well almost, but i’ll talk about that later).

I think it was at about this point we lost the 30km runners as they went a different direction, and then I came up to 2 huge rocks with officials standing on them to help people up. When I got to the rocks he said they were here to help us if we couldn’t climb up the rocks, but my stubborness and will to not be beaten overtook and I scrambled up the rocks unassisted. There!!





The mountains were nothing like what we have back home. Here the hills were exposed and vulnerable, not covered in trees and shrubs and protected. It was brown and there was long (slippery) grass and goat tracks to content with, and boy did they test your patience. The thin goat tracks were what i like to call ankle grinders. Imagine a thin gutter that’s the width of your foot (barely) and then try to run along inside that gutter for hours, one foot immediately in front of the other. It’s hard work, and i kept kicking the inside of my other ankle which hurt like hell after doing it a thousand times. I had to pick up my feet, something Damon (my coach) was always saying to me. I should probably listen to him more often.

My plan had been to run a lot more of the course than I ended up doing, but this was purely because the trail (if you could call it that) was not runnable. One guy behind me was swearing and cursing at the ground as he tried to run along and kept tripping, and i could feel his pain. We were all going through the same motions. I did gain a little more confidence on the goat tracks later in the race, but having never run on anything like this meant I was not prepared.


It was at this point that my stomach felt like I needed a number 2 badly. It has been building up and i’d been trying to ignore it, but damn that ‘peach cider’ from the night before, i knew I should have avoided it. I finally came to an area covered in trees and made my way into the scrub for a pitstop. Thankfully it was just a fart (ha ha), so i pulled up my pants and ran back up onto the trail before anybody could spot me.

We ran along bluffs and ridgelines and I chatted to other runners along the way, many of which were doing this race as their first marathon – talk about picking a tough course for your first marathon!! And you thought I was crazy 😉




After this hill we had a tricky downhill section to conquer and I nailed it. I passed about 10-15 runners as I got my confidence on the goat tracks and flew down the hill. I felt really good here but halted at the bottom when I saw an awful skinny bridge crossing, but pushed myself to cross it quickly without thinking too much!

Just like the views, the climbs were endless. I ran along through rainforests and on top of giants (what I like to call the mountains) and I met 2 runners from RunLab in Newcastle (below). I think there names were Clint and Karen. Karen (?) was training for the Anzac Ultra in May and I stuck with them for quite a long time during the run. It was nice to have their company and hear Clint getting yelled at (ha ha). We stopped for a few quick photos (below) before heading down the side of a sandy scree hill.

How much fun was the scree…?!?! I laughed like a 10 years old as I was slipping and sliding down that scree slope. With every step I moved about 4 metres down the hill. It felt like my feet were skis and I laughed loudly all the way down. If only all of the downhill sections were that easy.



My gaiters survived the scree slope (thanks Carolyn from Trail Gaiters) which was an amazig accomplishment! After the scree slope we made a few more river crossings, including a river that we had to wade through for a section, before climbing a ladder up to the next section (A ladder!! Just as nature intended it, ha ha).




We saw waterfalls and gorges and I started to feel very tight and my legs were feeling pretty shattered when I got to the halfway point at the Ben Lomond Station, it had taken me dead on 4hrs just to get there, insane!! I remember wondering how the heck my legs were going to cope for another 21kms of punishment but only time would tell.

I kept telling myself to toughen up and “Just F**king Run?”!! And when you looked up around you, there really was nothing to be complaining about…..





Just after the halfway point there was a checkpoint at the bottom of a very large mountain, my legs were not feeling very good (they were smashed from the huge descent) when i got to the bottom of this hill but I was delighted to see Anna Frost, an ultra running god (see below pic). She was assisting at the aid station and I chatted to her about her win at this race last year and tips for the rest of the course. She explained the next few climbs and the terrain and encouraged us all there to get moving again. Seeing her was a great motivator to get my butt back into race mode and moving up the next hill. And I overtook a few people as i power walked up the next climb, including a guy from Sweden who has raced all over the world.

Anna Frost

The biggest climb of the race was coming up so I backed off a little and prepared myself for that, a 6km steep climb to the highest point of the race. I think it was about this point that i started to hear the helicopters again too, so I waved at a couple of them.





When I got to the top of that hill i felt dizzy and out of breath, so i decided to sit down and get some food and water into me. I stayed there for about 5 mins and chatted to the girls manning the water station here. They told me how they had been flown into the location, and that the helicopter didn’t actually land, they just had to jump out with the gear and duck for cover. Incredible!!

I can’t remember much of the last part of the run and i’m not sure if that’s because it was so much like the first part, or because I was struggling and have put it out of my memory.  The backs of my legs were feeling very tight and on  couple of occasions i stopped to stretch which seemed to help a little.

There was a group of about 5-6 runners who had been ahead of me and i had been chasing for a few hours. Just when I thought I was getting close they’d somehow get ahead of me again. So when they stopped at the last aid station for food and refills I flew past them and carried on up the hill trying to put some distance between me and them. It worked, as I never saw them again!

There was lots of uphill and more downhill, and I lost count of the river crossings. When i finally got to the last flat(ish) runnable section I was so relieved that I could finally run at a consistent pace. There were a few (thousand) river crossings that slowed me down, but the rest was wide fire trail, slightly uphill all the way to the finish line. I remember stopping to drink from all of the creeks because the water in my pack was hot and the rivers we went through were icey cold, the water was so refreshing as I cupped it in my hands and drank away.

I remember looking behind me at one point and seeing a another lady closing in on me and I was determined not to let her pass me. i kicked it up a notch (god knows where the energy came from) and kept checking behind me to see if she was gaining or not. Eventually i lost her and caught up to some other male runners who were struggling. I passed another 4 or 5 runners on my way to the finish line and was so excited when I saw the shed next to the finish that I started crying.

Luckily nobody could tell I was crying as it was now sprinkling with rain. I saw a few walkers coming back towards me and they cheered me on. I was going to make it, how amazing! I ran my little heart out up that last hill, with many spectators and runners cheering me home.

I crossed the line and Adrian gave me a hug to congratulate me on the race. I had tears in my eyes and the biggest grin on my face, wow – I had really done it! What an amazing race!


After getting my finishers medal and free beer I headed for the heated spa (yes, how cool is that) and went for a quick dip in my undies and bra. It was so nice and warm and i thought I was never going to get out of there as the temperature had really dropped so it was getting quite cool now.

Eventually i dragged myself out of the tub after some banter with other runners doing the same. I put on my warm, dry clothes and got myself some food and a coke (it’s my reward to myself after a race, I love it but it’s so bad for you). They were about to stop selling food and James wasn’t even back yet so i saved some of my sushi in case.

I rested my weary body in the big shed and watched the presentations to the winners. James walked in about halfway through and I gave him some food and drink (he was very thankful). We chatted about our races and the course and scored a lift back to Queenstown with a lovely couple from the Central Coast.

When I got back to the hotel I had a quick shower (which revealed a large chaffing spot from my ripped tights, ouch!!) and sat on the bed to ring my hubby and my mum. I cried as I told them my news and they were very happy and excited to hear from me. What an incredible day! I was completely shattered and feeling exhausted but i felt on top of the world!

Somehow I dragged myself into the main part of town for some dinner/drinks with other runners. When I got there James had met some other runners Diane and Jill (plus her adorable family) and we ended up joining them at the same Italian restaurant I’d eaten at 2 night’s before (it was a great restaurant so I didn’t mind).

Diana, Jill, James and I got on like a house on fire! They were such great company and we shared many laughs and stories about this run and others we had done. We were so lucky to have met them and I know we will be in touch for many years to come.

I had the most rewarding experience for my first overseas marathon. And I highly recommend this race to anyone who has contemplated registering, it’s bloody tough but totally worth all the hard work. I’ll never forget the amazing views, the scary heights and the wonderful people I’ve met along the way.

Happy running 😀