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, March 19, 2011

    Support Crew and Pacer at the Tarawera Ultramarathon

    Race Numbers
    My first pacer number! Heather's race number (orange)
    and my pacer number (white).
    Support crew and pacer for Heather Andrews at the Tarawera Ultramarathon 85km event. I was support crew through to Okataina Lodge (about 40k), then picked up as pacer from the next accessable aid station (Tarawera Outlet at about 55km) through to the finish. Very proud to have been there for Heather's new longest distance.

    After a night of rain the day dawned cold and clear. Great conditions for runners, but less so for support crew standing around waiting for their runners! I first saw Heather at about 5km as the runners emerged from the bush. She was looking fresh, but so she should be when there was another 80km+ in front of her!

    At about 5km
    Then it was quickly back in the car and down the road towards Blue Lake. Part way down the road was another access point to the trail. This time I walked along the trail and talked with Heather while changing her water bottle and providing a fresh Gu. I ran back down the hill to the access point, being greeted by several runners who wondered why I hadn't entered this year.

    Tamara Cartwright, and Ray and Joan Scannel.
    Ray is wearing his Western States silver buckle.
    It was here that I also met Ray and Joan Scannel from the United States, both who have 10 (or more) finishers buckles from the Western States 100 mile Endurance Run. Ray is something of a Western States legend, holding the Master's record for several years from the late 80's through most of the 90's plus had a few top-5 finishes at the event.
    Back around the road to the other side of the lake and the Tikitapu (Blue Lake) aid station. The aid station was well stocked, but I also greeted Heather with supplies and walked with her while she ate and gave instructions for what she needed next.

    I drove around to the Lake Okareka aid station, but the lake side carparking area was completely full. After a bit of a wait to get back out of the carpark I drove a short way back up the road so that Heather would have easy access to the car. I then ran back down the road to meet Heather and we ran together back to the car and the aid station. Heather had a drink of cold coffee milk at the car and picked up her hydration pack for the long stretches between aid stations on the Okataina Walkway.

    Millar Rd
    Running in to Millar Rd aid station,
    Heather in the lead.
    We headed off along Millar Road, first at a run and then dropped back to a walk when we reached the big hill. I ended up going all the way to the Millars Road aid station. We thought we should perhaps run a bit as the road levelled off and we approached the photographer. I dropped back a bit so that the photo would focus on Heather - the result is the absolutely fantastic photo on the right!

    After a drink of coke and a quick selection of goodies from the aid station Heather ran off into the Western Okataina Walkway, and I started back down the road. Just a few hundred metres down one of the race crew pulled up in a car and offered me a lift back down to Okareka. I gladly accepted and then was soon back down at the car.

    All go at Okataina. Not sure what Ray Scannel is
    doing on the left, presumably just saying goodbye
    as they left for the next aid station.
    From Okareka it was drive around to Okataina Lodge aid station, set up, and wait. I chatted to Tamara Cartwright while waiting, and even ordered a flat white for Heather from the coffee cart. Time started ticking by, and the carpark started to empty out. Decisions, decisions... would Heather be sufficiently tired that she wouldn't want to walk the extra 10-20m to the car, or would she be happy to be away from the main group of people? Disaster... just as I decided to shift the car Heather appeared... I had shifted the chairs and then needed to move them back to the car. Meanwhile Heather wasn't pleased that I wasn't ready. Never mind, she was soon sitting down and I was fixing a hot spot on her foot while she had a few things to eat and drink. The coffee was at a good drinkable temperature and went down well.

    We set off walking along the Eastern Okataina Walkway while Heather ate some more and let her stomach settle. After perhaps a kilometre it was time for me to turn back. I jogged back to the car, packed up, and set off for Kawerau.

    Once in Kawerau I checked in at "pacer central" to get my pacer number, then off to the information centre to find Tamara Cartwright. Back to drop Heather's car at the finish line and then Tamara drove out to the Tarawera Falls aid station. A bit of a walk from the car to the aid station itself (officially the 60k mark) and then I decided I would run/walk the 5km in to the Tarawera Outlet aid station.

    More than a few runners seemed a little confused to see someone wearing a number heading in the opposite direction, but none turned and followed me!

    After waiting at Tarawera Outlet for a short while Heather appeared. She was disappointed to find there was no coke, was feeling a bit queasy and was talking about dropping at the 60km mark. She also said she had been willing me to come along the track to meet her, so a good decision!

    Tarawera Falls
    Tarawera Falls
    We ran and walked towards Tarawera Falls, while I tried to keep talking and give Heather reason to keep on going past the Falls aid station. A friend was meeting her there, and would have a car, so she was contemplating stopping and dropping out of the race at that point. I had some work to do! I kept her moving through the aid station, with only a very brief stop before we continued walking up the road. Unfortunately I was so intent on keeping her moving that I left behind a small bag that had a spare thermal top and one of our sets of lights (handheld plus head torch).

    Heather had a case of good old ultramarathon nausea by now, so we just walked for a while. Water was not sitting well, but watermelon was good. Lucky I had grabbed several pieces at the aid station! There is an enormous, steep, sandy hill along this section. I remembered it from last year, but it seemed steeper and nastier this year, and it wasn't in the place I remembered it to be! I guess I was a bit tired last year and my memory was affected...

    Some time after the hill Heather's stomach started to settle and we started to run a bit, looking for trees and clumps of grass to mark the point we would run to. Run a bit, walk a bit, we were steadily making forward progress.

    Eventually we made our way to the Titoki aid station. They didn't have coke, but they did have Mountain Dew! I filled one bottle with water, the other with Mountain Dew. We both had something to eat and drink, and I grabbed some more supplies. We walked a little to allow the food to settle, and then started back in to running on and off.

    From here my memory seems to fade, as did the light. The sun sank and it slowly got darker in the forest until we needed to get our lights out. With me having left one set at the Tarawera Falls aid station Heather took the headlamp and I took the handheld. Some sections of forest trail were too difficult to run on our tired legs, but the forest roads were ok.

    The last few km seemed unfamiliar - I remembered some parts from last year, but other parts were quite different. It turns out I was right, as part of the course had been rerouted to bypass cyclone damage.

    At last we were at the bridge across the Kawerau River. From there it is generally easy terrain across rugby field, a golf course, down a short street section, and then another rugby field. Rather than the sparsely spaced bike lights of last year, the route home was lit up by flashing traffic cones - they were easily visible and a great idea!

    Heather at the finish
    Through some trees and the finish line appeared in the distance. Time to run to make it look good! As we crossed the line Heather's watch said 14:27:59, but the official time was 14:28:03. We had finished, and I felt far too knackered given that I had only done 35km to Heather's 87km.

    • Bay of Plenty Times feature that quotes Heather
    • Tarawera Ultramarathon website
    • List of blog posts about the 2011 race collected by the race director


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