Chris Swallow Main Range S-K Report 2016

SK 14th Feb 2016

Swallows talk about his attempt

Swallows talk

Chris Swallow

 4 45 am


Despite (jointly) holding the current record for a SK via Triangle Knob return, another attempt had been signalling to the ‘go try achieve your potential lad’ radar.  So not having done any long runs since the birth of new baby 8 months ago, and having run the slowest Jumbo Holdsworth race I have ever run, preparations were grouped as being in the ‘let’s just see what happens’ category.





Due to the aforementioned, a light pack was called for so support parties were mustered.  I wrote a schedule based on our splits from 2013, omitting the Triangle Knob detour, meaning if I could stick to them Kaitoke would be attained in 19hrs 48mins.


Laurence accompanied from Putara through to Pukematawai and despite me cursing his seemingly steady progress, waiting on the Dundas ridge on a fine morning with views all around was just sublime; and it turned out the shrewd operator had timed matters just right – 15 minutes up at Dundas, 26 minutes up at Arete.


Laurence rightly said Hector didn’t look too far away before trotting off on his merry way towards the Poads Road and some shopping in Levin and I pressed on to Drac on my own, cursing the heavy bum bag of storm gear, PLB, GPS tracker etc that Laurence had muled thus far.  All bets were off at Drac as the day began to hum with heat and the tank tap offered nothing when turned.  I then spotted a half full 20 litre water container left by DOC and we were back on, into the cool of the bush and motoring towards Nichols.  Nichols attained and I was 41 minutes up, Crawford next and eyes scanned the ridge at Junction Knob.  No sign of Al lounging in the sun as expected, or coming up the ridge from Shoulder Knob.  Hmm, maybe he’s the other side of the ridge?  Nope, no sign of him at the Junction, so I scratched my initials and time of day onto the DOC sign (sorry…), put a great rock on top then headed in hope to Andersons, now 40 minutes up on schedule.

Another glorious day on Tararua tops



Plenty of water at the hut, but no sign of Al.  Decision time.  With 4 dried bananas and a third of a Snickers, calories were in poor ration for the next legs until a Kime re-supply.  Didn’t fancy waiting around too much as was feeling decent and had a good gap on my schedule, so I seasoned some lukewarm hut canola oil with salt and pepper and set off with 300ml of this fine stuff in my gel bottle.  Palatibility issues soon arose and the technique of choice became to squirt this new calorie dense running gel on to the back of the throat, swallow fast, fight the urge to vomit, then take the taste away somewhat with a nibble of Snickers.  Soon began to struggle to get water down on top of all the oil but pressed onwards into the hot sun.




Al rang – half an hour behind and giving chase.  So I ditched the bouncing bum bag on Aokap for him to mule and felt lighter on the feet instantly.  Maungahuka looming and Paul rings – he is making his way down Bridge Peak with non-canola oil based food sources, great.  I blag a protein bar off a bemused tramper in Maungahuka Hut and depart yelling my pace man is ten minutes behind and has a plethora of goodies to re-imburse.  Al and I wave to each other a lot from peak tops around Tuiti and Tunui and my incentive switches from pace preservation to press on and try stay ahead of him.


Paul is soon reached sat atop Vosseler and after a welcome bite I’m away up Bridge Peak with cramp knocking ominously on the door to progress.  Kime Hut, 33 minutes up and Lou, Tom and Paul get me out the door in about 8 minutes after salty crisps, peaches and sweet tea.  Salt tablets in camelbak and now the burping begins.  Stomach’s not playing the game here, and the legs are following suit.  Bye byes to Lou on Hector then Tom and I trot a glorious southern crossing with the early evening sun still warm to our right, shadows lengthening each minute and a sense of serenity.  Except for those burps.  But food and water’s going in and staying there and my first pee in 10 hours is not quite the dark yellow kidney threatener I anticipated.

Field Peak with Lou n Tom



Alpha Hut, 35 minutes up, and dare I say the legs are starting to play ball and there’s some running to be done.  Enthusiastic and experienced trampers who know the demands of such folly wave us off into the bush with well wishes and smiles.  Bull Mound passed and time for torches – fresh batteries in mine but the bloody thing won’t turn on.  So I do the full Marchant by the meagre LED of my phone, Tom ahead leading like a good ‘un.  Pace is okay considering and I settle into it – legs still pretty happy and moving well, inhibited now only by a lack of light on the rough to go much faster.


Shortly past Dobson’s looms me Dad; Tom becomes the filling in the head-torch sandwich and takes over phone duties.  Paul appears next for the second time today, having run up in jeans with a spare head-torch to answer Tom’s SOS text.  Onwards, Chris next at the YMCA turn off, steps, bush, the car park and a deckchair.

Water melon and Jura whisky


Cold beers and Jura whisky pass me by much to my consternation; I can only face a nibble on some water melon.  Just the 3kg lost.  Bed by 2am, up the next day at 6:30am to change a nappy and head off for 5 periods of teaching.

Major thanks to all those mentioned, sterling support of first class merit.


Pace notes:


2013 pace, minus T. Knob


Actual pace
Putara Road End 5am (adjusted from 3am actual) 5am
Herepai Hut 5:54 5:51
East Peak 6:57 6:57
Dundas Peak 8:57 8:42
Arete 9:51 9:25
Drac Hut 11:02 10:36
Nichols Peak 12:36 11:55
Andersons Hut 13:46 13:06
Aokaparangi 15:12 14:32
Maungahuka 16:20 15:40
Kime Hut 18:35 18:02
Alpha Hut 20:36 20:01
Block XVI 22:08 21:38
Kaitoke (new car park down from YMCA) 00:48 00:20
Total 19hrs 48 19hrs 20