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, November 16, 2002


    My first ultra-distance DNF
    The Molesworth Run is 84.7km through Molesworth Station - New Zealand's largest high country cattle station - following the old stock route connecting Marlborough and North Canterbury. The trail is a gravel road, which just happens to be my favourite running surface. However, the route also climbs over two mountain passes - Ward Pass and Jack's Pass - so it is no doddle.

    My training for this race included the 68km Marton-Wanganui Ultra 9 weeks before. Weekly mileage was never very high, as I wanted to ensure that I didn't overtrain and get an injury. I was not sure whether I was under-trained, overtrained (given some recent niggles), or just right. Time would tell...

    The Start. From left to right: Ruth, Me, Maree Limpus,
    John Thirkettle, Steve Folster.
    The day started cool but sunny. The wind was a crisp southerly, which was primarily an annoyance because it would be a head wind. There were only four starters for the solo run: John Thirkettle, who had run all of the eight previous Molesworth Runs, winning all except one; Maree Limpus and Steve Folster, neither of whom had run an ultradistance race before; and me. The New Zealand 100km championships were being held on the same weekend and may have lured a couple of other starters away. One of the two-person relay teams also lined up at the start with us; the other two-person teams were starting with the four-person race an hour later. We were treated to the skirl of bagpipes from a lone piper atop a nearby hill, there were a few last words from the race director, and then we were off.

    The first hill arrived about 800m from the start. John very quickly pulled away from the rest of us, starting to open up a lead that would grow ever larger. Everyone except me elected to run the hill, but I wasn't last to the top! For most of the first leg, I was running near Maree and Ruth (from the two-person team). They would pull ahead on the uphills, but I would catch them on the flats. The running on this stage was good: although the gravel road was a little rough in places it still provided a good surface for running; the sun was shining; the breeze was keeping us cool; and there were some amazing sights to keep the mind occupied. One memorable sight from the first 10km was a herd of horses that ran beside us, then crossed the road a few hundred metres ahead. Soon after the 8km mark was the first serious climb, which took us up to the top of Ward's Pass (1145m). My strategy was to conserve energy by walking all hills, but I managed to keep pace with Maree and Ruth who were both running.

    View from Ward's Pass

    Running with Maree along Isolated Flat
    By the end of the first stage John had long disappeared from sight, Ruth was perhaps 400-500m ahead of me, Maree was a short distance behind, and Steve was perhaps 500m back. I stopped to walk as I ate the first of my freeze dried "classic beef curry" meals. In no time at all I had gone from 2nd solo to last as both Maree and Steve passed me. I remained in that position for the next 15km, as we all seemed to be travelling at approximately the same speed.

    Raining heavily, the road turning to mud.
    At somewhere around 37km the race suddenly turned "interesting". I caught and passed Steve, and quickly opened up a large gap. Maree was within sight, and I knew I should be able to catch her. However, the weather was also starting to turn, and fairly soon there were some very large rain drops falling. This heralded the start of a dramatic change in the weather and a dramatic change in my race. A little before 40km I noticed that my left knee was starting to feel sore, but it didn't feel too serious. By 40km it was raining heavily, and I put on a woollen hat, polypro gloves, and a nylon running jacket. My knee rapidly worsened, to the point where I could no longer run downhill or on an uneven surface - a major problem on an uneven, hilly road! I limped in to the marathon point, which was also the end of leg 2.

    At this point I changed into full thermals and my wet weather gear. Apparently the temperature had dropped to 5 degrees celsius, it was raining heavily throughout the next stage, and the wind was picking up. I also had my next meal of curry, and took a PowerBar with me as I started on leg 3. By the time I left I had used up 10 minutes, and I was now back in last place.

    I still could not run on my knee so, apart from a couple of tests to see whether I could run, I walked all of leg 3. The "Tail-end Charlie" caught up with us about 12km from the end of the leg, and was none-to-impressed that I was intending on completing the leg. He tried several times to convince me to withdraw then and there. Obviously not an ultrarunner! It was so cold that about half way through the leg I put on an extra thermal top and changed my soaking wet polypro gloves for a dry pair. We eventually reached the Archeron accomodation house, then descended to the Clarence River bridge. The rain had eased by now, and a few snow flakes fell as I crossed the bridge. However, it was back to rain at the other side of the river.

    Rain2 Clarence River
    Trudging up the hill in the rain after crossing the Clarence River bridge. There had been a few flakes of snow while crossing the bridge but now we were back to rain.
    Even though I was only walking, I was now catching Steve. I had been catching glimpses of him for the past few km, and by the time that I crossed the Clarence River bridge he was perhaps 800m ahead. He was still running, but was down to a classic "ultra shuffle". It was still a couple of km to the end of leg 3, and it would be touch-and go as to whether I would make the cut-off. Along this stretch we encountered a group of horse riders, all kitted out in high country style.

    Snowing heavily on the fourth stage.
    The end of leg 3 finally arrived. I had made it just inside the 8 hour cut-off, with a time of 7:55. I still could not run, and my knee was feeling quite sore even walking downhill. It would take me at least 3 hours to finish, which would take me well outside the official time limit for the race. I decided to do the best thing for my knee and withdraw. Steve was only 500m ahead, but at least I should be able to be back running within a week or two. Unfortunately this meant that I missed the joys of running in the heavy snow that was the main feature of the final stage!

    Name Leg 1
    Leg 2
    Leg 3
    John Thirkettle 1:48:11 3:45:41 5:46:28 7:50:33
    Maree Limpus 2:05:30 4:28:48 7:18:11 10:02:50
    Steve Folster 2:06:00 4:42:24 7:51:47 withdrew 70km
    Andrew Shelley 2:05:10 4:47:01 7:54:59 withdrew 63.4km

  • Breakfast - About half of a "Backcountry Cuisine" freeze dried cooked breakfast, a cup of Coke, half a bottle of Lucozade.

  • During the race - 3 x cup of chicken soup (1/2 sachet each cup); 1 Powerbar; 2 x 1/2 serve of Backcountry Cuisine freeze dried classic beef curry, 1.5 litres Leppin Enduro.

  • Lessons:
    Be prepared for anything and everything. Although I had a full set of thermals, I really could have done with waterproof gloves and waterproof overtrousers. I could have also done with either a physiotherapist or at least a manual with instructions on how to tape my knee!

    The aftermath:
    Legs were a bit stiff and sore the next day, but with the aide of a massage and an hour or so in the hot pools, they were well on the way to recovery on the second day. Because I had been pacing myself for 85km, withdrawing at 63km felt like nothing more than a long training run.

    More photos are available on Flickr. For larger versions of each photo click on the photo to open the photo page, and then click the 'All Sizes' button.


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