Start of The Hillary 80km, Photo credit, Lactic Turkey
An ionic event, the name says it all. The Hillary trail takes you a total distance of 80km from Arataki Visitors Centre West of Titirangi all the way to Muriwai, via Huia, Whatipu, Karekare, Piha and Bethells. The course climbs 3700m and through bush, rugged coast lines, rivers and a bit of 4 wheels drive tracks. Typically designed for 4 to 5 day hike, but why not fill up the Marmot hydration pack with numerous GU Energy gels a few pieces of warm clothing and just about enough water to fill lake Taupo, and run it in 10 or so hours.
My first ultra marathon, after listening to some note worthy advice about which ultra to conquer, The Hillary was the obvious choice. The last two weeks I spent tossing between the flu and a cold, I think I had had my fair share of sickness for the year. This curve ball wasn’t stopping me as there was still steam to be let off after my disappointing Coast to Coast race.
Coming into aid station at 54km mark, Photo credit, Lactic Turkey
A dark start at 6am added to the adventure, we were off. By the First aid station I crossed paths with the first female and carried the lead for the next 54kms, sitting in 6th overall and I was really enjoying it. Not knowing how to run this distance my plan was basically to run at a comfortable race pace and let the distance slow me down. At 50kms I passed my own personal mark of my longest distance I’ve ran, so I had another 30kms to go. Cramp hit here and I slowed to a walk or what I like to call the shuffle, where feet minimally come off the ground and arms are swinging like crazy to gather any extra monument. This technique was no cat walk strut, there was no elegance involved at all and it made the 16km and 32km competitors question my ability to finish. Which was not fault of theirs as I probably did look awful. I ensured them I was well fed just suffering and there was no way I was stopping. This continues for the next 30kms to the finish line, Gill Fowler ended up winning and I was 2nd Open female. I was happy to finish and learnt a lot about how to tackle an ultra marathon.
Thanks to GU Energy New Zealand for being part of such an awesome event and helping me along the way.
Corrinne Smit is a GU Energy New Zealand Pro-Deal Athlete