Welcome to my blog. The title originates when my primary athletic activity was competitive walking, but now that I am back to running it also includes that.

Not all content is accessible from the main page: for example, the rogaines, racewalking, and ultramarathon pages all include content that is only accessible from those pages.


Ultramarathons are any event longer than the standard marathon distance of 26.2 miles / 42.195km. Standard distances for ultras are 50km, 50 miles, 100km, and 100 miles. There are also 12 hour and 24 hour track runs, and multi-day "stage races".

I have currently (September 2012) completed 30 ultramarathons, plus 1 DNF at about 66km at the Molesworth Run. Reports for most events are provided below.

See also


Rogaining is the sport of long distance cross-country navigation. Events can be as short as 2-3 hours or the standard 24 hours. Teamwork, endurance, competition and an appreciation for the natural environment are features of the sport. Rogaining involves both route planning and navigation between checkpoints using a variety of map types.

GN Phillips and RJ Phillips, Rogaining, 3rd ed, 2000

The two main umbrella organisations for rogaining in New Zealand are: My reports for selected events are provided below.

Hiking and Mountains

The Hiking, Trail Running, and Mountains pages are all inter-related, but with some subtle differences:
  • Hiking is not an organised race, and may include Coastal Adventures, activities in the Mountains, and hiking in other locations;
  • Trail Running covers organised events, some in the mountains, but others on local hills and trails; and
  • The Mountains category covers both events and hiking in various places that can be classed as mountains.

  • Racewalking

    Racewalking only has to meet two technical requirements:
    • no loss of contact, as judged by the human eye; and
    • the leg has to be straight from the moment of first contact until it is upright.
    More detailed rules are here.

    I'm not particularly good at racewalking, often falling foul of the straight leg rule. But I still give it a go and here are the results of my endeavours.


    This blog is primarily about my walking activities, but sometimes I do run. Here are reports for events where I have run.

    Shorter Races

    I classify events as ultramarathons, marathons, rogaines, and "shorter events". So a "shorter event" is just something that is shorter than a marathon and is not a rogaine. Consequently there's a mixed bag in here: running, racewalking, half marathons, 10k and 5k races, , etc.

    Saturday, February 24, 2001

    Avalanche Peak Challenge

    The Avalanche Peak Challenge is a 26km mountain run in Arthurs Pass national park. The run starts in Arthurs Pass village, climbing the steepest of two tracks up Avalanche Peak. It then heads north along a ridge, to descend down a 500m scree slope to the head of the Crow River. From there it is down the Crow to the Waimakariri River, across the flats to the main road, and 2km on the road to finish at the Bealey Hotel. 2001 marked the 10th running of the Avalanche Peak Challenge, and the first time I had entered. This was an amazing run, full of contrasts, vivid images, and little panning out as expected.

    As I got to the tent at the bottom of the scree slope, I caught up with a group of three runners. One of them had taken a tumble coming down the slope, and his legs were badly scraped. He was helped into the tent, his wounds tended to, and the helicopter called for a medevac flight. That was not the only medevac flight for the day – one woman had taken a tumble and hit her head on a rock. At the prize giving she was walking ’round with a sizeable bandage wrapped around her head. There were also a few others that caught the helicopter out when the course proved too tough.

    Right from the race briefing the night before, my intial plans were altered. I had arrived in Arthur’s Pass with my Macpac hydropod (modified to carry a pouch on the front of the waste belt) all ready for the race. However, at the pre-race briefing on Friday night, the race director (Chris Cox) said that there would be plenty of water at the bushline for those who wanted to fill their bottles, Camelbaks, etc. I wasn’t too keen on the thought of carrying several kilos of water up the mountain, and I knew that I couldn’t easily refill the resevoir in the hydropod, so I opted then and there to use by two-bottle bumbag. It transpired that this was a good choice, as later on the course it was easy to refill the bottles from the river as required.

    From earlyish in the morning (about 7:30am?), a helicopter was ferrying checkpoint crew to their stations. During the race, the helicopter was flying around the tops, checking that everything was OK and taking photos. The trampers started at 8:30am – while I was still at the motel unit taping my feet. We drove down to the start area for the gear check at 9:30am. The sky was overcast, and it was windy and cold. I went back to the car to wait. I went back over to the start area a few minutes before 10am to watch the women’s start. Chris Cox was giving the “one and only” pre-run briefing, and I caught his comments that it was perfect running conditions on the tops with only light winds. After watching the women start and taking a couple of photos, it was back across to the car to get ready. It was still windy and cold so, inspite of Chris’ comments on the weather, I opted to wear a short-sleeve poly rather than the “wind proof” tactel singlet. For some reason I just wasn’t that confident of the singlet manufacturer’s claims.

    Me after about 1500m
    The race started with a 1.6km loop around the village, heading North, then looping round behind some houses, to head South back past the start area. We then turned North up the side road to the school, down a track past the start area (again), behind the DOC Information Centre, and up the Avalanche Peak track.

    Lower Summit Aid Station
    I had anticipated that the climb would be very tough – 1200m climb in about 5km – but in hindsight, it really wasn’t too bad. Part of this is because I was near the back of the field, and we had to keep stopping for hold-ups ahead. There were many places below the bushline where the track was a scramble up near vertical rock. It was also very hot below the bushline, and I wondered about the wisdom of wearing a poly. Still, I enjoyed the climb, stopping several times once above the bushline to take in the views and take a few photos. The route guide available from the Arthur’s Pass visitor center notes that “Mt. Rolleston, with the Crow Glacier on the southern side, rises majestically from behind the ridge”. The glacier-covered slopes really were a spectacular sight, so I stopped to take a photo. I also took a photo looking back down at the main road towards the motel where I was staying, photos of the low peak aid station, several photos of runners scaling the heights above. When I reached the summit, I stopped to take a few panorama shots, and then descended a metre or two so that the photographer on the summit could get a good photo of me cresting the peak.
    The Summit

    Looking North along the ridge
    The 40m knife-edge ridge leading to the summit was a non-event, with several earlier sections of ridgeline having greater potential for slipping a few hundred metres down a scree slope.

    After the summit it was down a short scree slope on to the razorback ridge heading north. The ridgeline was extremely barren and rocky – much more so than I was expecting given the vegetation on the high ridges in the Tararuas. Part way along the ridge there was a view of Crow hut, a tiny little orange box far below on the floor of the valley. I decided against taking a photo, reasoning that I could get a much better photo on the trip down the river.

    Looking down the shingle slide down to the Crow River
    The scree slide down to the Crow arrived soon enough. Shortly before reaching the slide I passed a group of four young women trampers who were obviously having a great day, even though they had already been out for about 4 hours and had a long way to go. I stopped for a couple more photos at the top of the slide – one of Devil’s Punchbowl Falls, and one of the slide itself – before heading down. I was certainly not going at break neck pace, but I soon caught and passed several other people on the slope. I think only two were runners, and the rest were trampers. Progress was a mixture of easy strides landing on the heels, sliding in a crouch on both feet with hands back, and many stops to ensure that rocks weren’t dislodged on to people below. After losing a small patch of skin on my left hand part way down I decided to put my gloves on for the rest of the descent.

    At the bottom of the slide it was across to the tent to empty the stones out of my shoes. It was here that I met with the party with the injured runner. After fixing my shoes, I continued down river. I was expecting to see Crow Hut within a few minutes, but somehow I missed it entirely. I guess I may have been concentrating on the track through the riverbed and passed by the hut without even knowing. Entirely possible, as at times the riverbank was above head height.

    The track down the Crow River
    The initial section of travel down the Crow was a little difficult, with no track across the riverbed. However, a track was soon picked up, and it continued most of the way down the crow. The running wasn’t always easy, but it was pleasant. I soon needed to refill my water bottle. The water in the Crow tasted great – it was fresh and crisp. At about this time one of the runners that I had passed on the scree slope (Vet #1) came past me – he seemed to have a much better ability to run on the uneven track. By 2:45 running time my legs were starting to get sore.

    Near the end of the Crow the race at the back started to get more interesting. I had been slowly catching a runner in a red T-shirt. I was also closing in on Vet #1 who had earlier passed me, and another runner was closing from behind. Vet #1 had to hunt a bit to find the track, and then found it went up and over a shingle rise. I followed about 10m back. The runner who had been closing in on me caught and passed me as I climbed the rise. This guy was certainly an unconventional runner - he was wearing trousers, socks and sport sandals, no shirt, and carrying a green plastic water bottle. Next thing I noticed Red T-shirt had crossed the river – something we had been told not to do (under threat of disqualification) until we could see the Waimak’. As I got up near to where he crossed, it was easy to see why – Vet #1 had run out of track and was trying to negotiate his way round an outcrop that was certainly going to mean wet feet. Meanwhile, Sandalman had spotted the track heading a few metres up a steep bank. I followed Sandalman over this track and down to the river a few metres down from Vet #1. Sandalman opted to head up the bank again to try and find more track, while I stayed down at the river with Vet #2.

    Vet #2 and I both refilled our water bottles. Sandalman opted to continue down the true right bank, while Vet #2 and I crossed the water and headed down through the middle of the river stones. Shortly we rounded a slight bend and could see the Waimak. We spotted the orange triangle marking the start of the shortcut track through the bush. However, that was up a steep bank, so we continued down river. The next check point wasn’t far, and we joined the shortcut track at that point. I passed through the checkpoint in about 3:20, which (I thought) meant I was still on target for a 4:00 finish. Once on the track, I pulled away from Vet #2, and was soon out of the bush and on to a very pleasant grassy area. The running here was good, and I was on time to make my estimated time of 4hrs. I caught Red T-shirt, who by now was so hot he had taken his T-shirt off. I was wondering about the wisdom of running in a poly, and was wishing I had worn the singlet. It would have been great on the climb to the bushline, and even above the bushline it may have been more windproof than the poly.

    I made good progress along the grassy flat, but soon came to the Waimak. The track led out on to the river flats, but stopped after the second river crossing. From here there was no track all the way to Klondyke corner. Initially I struck out across the stones, but I was soon wondering about the wisdom of this choice. Perhaps it would have been better to run on the grassy flat, even though there was no track. Looking back, I could see that Vet #2, a veteran of four races, had done just that and had made up some ground. I decided to keep to my strategy, and soon Vet #2 and Red T-shirt were left far behind. Sandalman, however, was also making good progress. He seemed to be getting more running done than I was, and part way across the river flat he caught up to me again. We both complained about the difficulty of the terrain and how long it seemed to be taking. By now I could see what I thought was Klondyke corner, and set off with a determined run/walk in a straight line. The straight line strategy caught out Sandalman, who wasn’t too keen to cross the river more often than he had too. Soon he, too, was an appreciable distance behind. Ahead were two more river crossings, two more runners, and the end of the shingle road at Klondyke corner. I passed one of the runners in the middle of the last river crossing, and clocked in at Klondyke corner in 4:10:21. The trip across the river flats had taken so long that I had blown my time already.

    The finishing straight
    I had a quick drink, then started running down the shingle road. I passed the other runner before the turn-off to the Matagauri flats. By now I was feeling very fatigued, so I ran some, walked some along the winding track through the Matagauri. Finally the road arrived, and I remembered the jellybeans in my bumbag. I got them out, and started eating them one after the other as I ran slowly to the Waimak’ bridge. At the other side of the bridge, I passed a vet male runner who had started with the woman at 10:00am, and then I passed another runner who was clearly in the OM grade. One last hill to go, so I pushed up the hill past the sign indicating 450m to the Bealey Hotel. Over the rise and the finish line was visible on top of the grassy hill outside the Bealey. A tired effort up the short grassy hill, and I’d finished. At 4:33:00, a good half an hour slower than expected, mainly thanks to the interminable and difficult-to-run river flats.

    Prize giving started about 1¼ hours after I finished, although I was on the massage table when it started. Prize giving lasted about half an hour, and after that we stayed on at the Bealey for our evening meal. We left the Bealey a little before 6pm. As we approached the Waimak’ bridge we noticed that the last of the entrants were just coming across the bridge. Amongst them was the group of four young women I had passed just before the scree slope – heading for a finish time of around 9:30.

    For the record:

    StartStart of Avalanche Peak track0:07:580:07:58
    Start of trackBushline0:36:380:44:36
    BushlineAvalanche Peak0:45:181:31:34
    Avalanche PeakBottom of scree slide0:47:052:18:39
    Scree slide0:03:242:22:03
    Scree slideKlondyke Corner1:48:184:10:21
    Klondyke CornerMain Road0:10:064:20:27
    Main RoadBealey Hotel0:12:294:32:56

    Food consumed: 1 powerbar, 3 powergels, perhaps 10 jellybeans


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