The Taupo Ultra! I was originally signed up for the 50km course, but after weeks of illness and injury following the WUU2K race, I didn’t have enough time to train for that distance. I decided to drop down to the 24km course instead.
I managed to get in a good 6 weeks of solid consistent running and got up to 13km long runs before the race. This didn’t make me that confident about my ability during the race, but it was much better than I would have been.
We parked our car at the finish line, along with the other 25km runners and got the bus to Kinlock and the start line. We got to the start line a good hour early, so decided to have a walk around and explore the lake front. Once we got back to where the start line would be, we were amazed at how many people were wearing custom orange t-shirts in the crowd. It turned out that 117 NorthPower staff had entered into the 25km race as walkers and runners.
As it was getting near to the start time, everyone started lining up. And then we were off …
The first 1km was on the tarmac roads around Kinlock, as we all made our way to the trail start. Once we hit the trail, the uphill climb started, although I was surprised at how gentle the gradient was (compared to the Wellington hills).
Within about the first 3-4km, I realised I had gone out too hard, as I started to fall back in the pack. After we passed through the first aid station at about 5-6km, I found a few other runners who were setting a really nice pace for a while. This really helped me to slow down a bit and start to enjoy the run and the nice flowing trails.
We passed some amazing lookouts along the way, which I just had to stop at and photograph.
Once we were about half way through the Taupo ultra race, the rain started up. I thought the rain would only last for a little while, but it ended up being till the end of the race. This wasn’t so bad though, as it helped cool us down.
We finally got to the last aid station, where we topped up our water and took on some energy cubes. We only had 8.8km to go after this point to the end, which I was really grateful of.
It was from this last aid station that the trail got super muddy and my shins started playing up. I was really starting to suffer during this last section of the race. I had very little energy on the ups (from setting off too fast) and my shins hurt on the downs, but I kept pushing on!
About 3km from the end, we could hear the loud speakers from the finish line. I was almost there!
Soon the bush opened up into fields and we were on the last stretch of gravel road to the finish line. There were so many people standing around in the rain cheering us all on, it was such a special moment. Then we were across the finish line!
The Taupo ultra was an awesome race and such a runnable course, I would definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to start their trail running journey.