The Xbox Announce, the Tent.
After a pretty odd week of flying to the US & Back in 6 days (so really only 3 sleeps in the US), nearly getting stranded when my plane broke down, discovering my brother-in-arms Powell has got into trail running plus getting to run with him for 4KM on trail and then going through the crazy announce of the new Xbox it was good to get back to home to some sanity….
Saturday was spent with Noodle going to her swimming lesson, hitting Safkas on K-Road for some good Swedish food and then getting Noodle into Clip and Climb for a quick 30 mins of ascending before catching up on work and preparing for a whole heap of meetings to come. Top the day off at Sands with some good honest home style Asian cuisine and a lovely day was had by the Whanau.
So then I realised I needed to get a bit brutal if I really wanted to feel back at home in Aotearoa with some mud between my toes and an ache in my lungs. Where to go….then it struck me that Te Henga has always kicked my arse so it was perfect to get me back to feeling lucky to be here, lucky to be alive.
Let me tell you about my history with Te Henga track.
Just heading down the local trail….
My first introduction was at The West Coaster managed by Total Sport. My vague thinking at the time was ”well I’ve run several marathons and I’ve run many trail runs so how hard can it be?” It floored me.
Starting on a cold wintery grey Bethell’s Beach running down the misty black sand beach and passing Amanda’s cousin whose family were marshalling and full of great expectations about Blackburn running their local race (New Zealand too small you say?) I was dead on my feet by time we’d run the first 10km of hills. We hadn’t even gotten onto Te Henga yet!
Running through the estuary around the crazy HUGE sand dunes and doing at least a km in fast running water I was exhausted, happy but pretty sure this was an insane race. And we still hadn’t gotten to Te Henga….by now I was kicking myself for not doing much more than registering for the race – hubris…it’s a wonderful thing.
So we hit Te Henga track and we went up, and up and up and along a windy old ridge and I was alternating between walking and cursing and shuffling and cursing. When we got towards the end of the track and had to ascend once more (there are now some very nice manicured stairs there now – those days kids it was clay) I was just struggling to stay upright. At this point an old dude passed me by and dissed me for not being strong enough. It’s rare to get grief from another runner – not something do – so it’s always stuck with me and whenever I need to get angry to snap myself out of a malaise on a trail I think of that guy and get my rage up.
On the West Coaster you then hit Goldies Bush reserve where there are multiple river crossing and hills before….yes running back along Te Henga. Why do it once?
I recall seeing 2 people crying on the track …it was a rough old race. When I cleared the finish line I just sat there as my extended family worried and ask if there was anything I needed. ‘Just beer’ I said and slumped for 25 minutes. I’d been running for 7 hours.
Driving home I had to stop in Massey and sleep for 40 minutes by the side of the road as I was in danger of falling asleep at the wheel. I was done in.
So that was my first meeting with Te Henga.
Following that day I resolved to conquer and learn this gnarly old track and I did and I have, running in various weathers and states as training for Tarawera Ultra and if you live in Auckland and don’t get out there – go get involved.
Te Henga has relentlessly kicked my butt. I used to run in New Balance Minimus and loved them, but they were crap on wet technical sections and mud. Te Henga has both of these – as much as you want really… combine flax with gorse and mud and rain and I recall coming home literally having lost count of the times I fell over and with legs cut to ribbons. I actually did a somersault at one point – awesome. I also ran Bethells to Muriwai and back A LOT for the Tarawera training and there wasn’t once where it was a cruisy little run. Te Henga is righteous.
So that’s where I went today for a bit of pain, a bit of love and a lot of mud.
I drove through the rain coming in sideways, through the grey dawn and down to the beach and trail head where misty clouds met sea spray to mask the coastline. At first all was well and I was loving the punishment. Managed to run some good uphills (maybe that core strength work I’ve been doing is paying off?). A little gorse was keeping me honest and then after an hour and a bit of running the mud began.
My word the sheep had really carved up the trail. A sea of mud just led away and for a good 20 minutes I slogged away through it. Then it struck me that this was waaaaay too crazy. Te Henga…I wanted pain and you’d brought it, I wanted wild rugged New Zealand and I was in it but I wasn’t gonna end my life sliding down a cliff (with gorse spikes all the way) to a brutal and unknown, stupid death on the West Coast.
Once again Te Henga had kicked my arse and I laughed, turned around and headed for home….live to run another day and another trail but don’t worry Te Henga….i’ll be back.