Now before you think that I’ve become a running legend overnight I wanted to be clear that I was volunteering at this event. Inspired by friends who run these events I wanted to see one up close and the Tarawera Ultramarathon provided just the experience I was after.

I went on a road trip to Rotorua; camping near the lake. My part in the event was to weigh in 85 and 100km runners the night before the race and to help at the Titoki aid station (which was 70.1km into the run and the cut off point for the 100km). I also took lots of photos to share later with the runners.

 

Here is what I learned:

 

1. Stretch your idea of what’s possible

Each runner (regardless of whether they were able to finish or not) stretched their mind to consider that running 60, 85 or 100km was possible for them. There were many everyday athletes in the field; I’m inspired by every one of them.

 

 

2. Do something amazing

What an idea to have even dreamed up in the first place. Full credit goes to Paul Charteris for his commitment to an idea.

 

3. Watermelon was the most appreciated food on the aid station.

 

4. Be courageous

Every early morning training run, every lost toe nail and every set of aching feet required courage to keep going.

 

5. Ask for help

There were some people that were hurting. The volunteers taped feet, handed out plasters and hugs and wiped sweaty foreheads (yip that’s how far we were prepared to go!) to anyone that asked. And to some who were too tired to ask.

 

Can I have another slice of watermelon please?

Can I have another slice of watermelon please?

 

6. Coca cola

was the most requested drink at the aid station. Mountain Dew followed a close second.

 

7. Inner voice

That little voice is always with you. That one that says “It’s too cold for a run this morning”, “I’d rather we just sat on the sofa”, “If we go left it’s only 15km to the end. Why would you want to do 100km?”

 

“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” Dr. George Sheehan

 

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