One year in New Zealand. This wasn't supposed to happen! One year ago I flew into Auckland for a six month adventure and almost nothing since then has gone to plan. I don't think there's a single commonality between my life now and what I expected of my life now back when I arrived in New Zealand. The world exploded and shook both literally and metaphorically. I am excited to come home in 2021 to the UK, although the UK being a slightly more hospitable place to live would much appreciated. We are beginning to forget about COVID in New Zealand, life has been totally ordinary in almost every way for months now.
With a friend of Ariana's visiting (Jana) we took the opportunity to go on some camping trips. Firstly to Moke Lake, a scene I am all too familiar with from my ultra marathons. There was a minor mishap which resulted in two of my closest friends (and our expected camping company) driving two hours in the wrong direction to an entirely different campsite. It's just about long enough in the past that it's funny, it certainly wasn't at the time! Moke Lake is a beautiful place to camp in and it's only half an hour from Queenstown. It was extremely cold at night but only because I kept being pushed off my thermal sleeping mat by the other two people in the two person tent. Less than a week later we went on a more distant camping trip to the city of Dunedin, or more accurately, the peninsula east of Dunedin. What a stunning place in the world! Seeing penguins in the wild was an absolute treat. A sea lion encounter on a beach was also really incredible.
It has been twelve weeks since my 162km run and I've recently started getting back into long runs. I decided to tackle a 26km loop at Mount Earnslaw, near the beautiful Glenorchy. This was by far the most challenging 25km I have ever run. The route was very rugged and partially completely off-trail. The elevation gain was apparently below 1000m but I suspect it was closer to 1500m when you include all the small ups and downs that wouldn't be included in the official total. My legs were cut up and bleeding, I was very tired and I was soaked and muddy from numerous bogs and river crossings. I didn't manage to reach the mountain ridge because the river I was climbing up was fast flowing and too unsafe to continue up. The next week I ran 30km on the mostly flat track around Lake Wakatipu. I explored a new place, Jack's Point, which I thought looked line a really nice place to live, but I could never imagine myself living somewhere like that. It felt like the sort of place where a wealthy couple might raise kids in. They probably own two SUV's and have a pet labradoodle. The run went very well and I even ran a few extra kilometres in the evening just to pass the time.
In two weeks time I am running the Queenstown marathon, along with three friends. Connor, Ariana and Jan join me running the 42 kilometres and Chris will take on the half marathon. I'm so happy to have friends who are willing to take on these challenges with me and I have no doubt that they will all be successful, as long as nothing goes really badly wrong! The next update will be post marathon, hopefully with nothing but good news.