Standing at any start line it’s best not to look at the stats. Especially on the SK. Even with a good build up over the last couple of years it seemed like a very daunting task. With a goal of sub 24 hours with elevation of 6500-7000 meters over 75-80km it was going to be a long day. But I was so looking forward to it and was keen to get going especially with the great weather forecast. I had put in a good few training blocks consisting of running (stoked to get my max week of 88km), mountain biking, heavy pack walking, cycling, gym and rowing. I knew I was ready to give the SK an attempt so at 2am I was out of the tent and on my way.
It all started with doing my first ultra (50km Tarawera) two years ago and getting hooked. I set out exploring my backyard on foot with my favorite of Up Down Around Mount Taranaki and around Mount Ruapehu. Dad had talked about the SK 6 years ago while we were tramping the Te Araroa Tararuas part. I never thought I’d be doing it! I got in contact with Tim Sutton and the adventure went from a dream to a must!
Starting out I got into a rhythm of eating every hour, drinking whenever I thought about it and going at a pace that I could sustain for ages. Once I had warmed up it was time to relax and enjoy every moment. 24hours seems like a long time but since it was a long time goal I was keen to savior every moment as it’d soon be over.
I love running in the dark, lucky as it would be a while before sunrise. Up to Herepai it was smooth sailing then I took a well-worn path that ended up costing me 16mins! Dumb arse – think I took what must be a view point in the daylight and kept going down a step face before I thought oh oh I’m off the path. With a ripped flap of skin on my thumb (kept my gloves on for the rest of the day as they worked out being a great bandage) I back tracked and was back on track. Every SK adventure seems to have a navigation issue and with mine so early on I didn’t really want another but then came East peak. I went a little too far past the metal waratah and found myself off the path yet again. I ended up crowd surfing over leatherwood, not the funnist activity but it got me back on track. Lucky those 25mins were my only navigation problems for the day.
Then it was onto the beautiful un-marked route off the Northern Main Range. I loved this part, moving as fast as possible over the rocks and vegetation and going up and down countless hills. With not a breath of wind or barely a cloud in the sky in was simply stunning with an amazing sunrise, views of Ruapehu and the sight of the full main range in front of me. Mount Dundas came and went with no problems, I can definitely see how it’s easy to lose ones’ way here in bad weather. From Pukematewai to the forest I really had to concentrate as it was super muddy.
Once in the Goblin Forest I came up with a mantra ‘seconds makes a minute, minutes makes an hour’. So every time (even if only a few meters) I would run anything that was possible to save me time in the long run. Even at the huts I never stayed longer than 2-3 mins.
Once I got to Junction Knob it was all new territory for me. I had read that Anderson Memorial hut was half way (was that in time or distance, I didn’t know). For the first time I got my map out with splits and realised I’d made great time. Was happy as to have some time up my sleeves. My plan to Maungahuka Hut was to drink heaps and fuel up for the big climbs up to Bridge Peak. But I never realised how steep the hills were in this section. Going up was fine but going down for me was slow going as my Rotorua training is so flat in comparison. But I loved exploring a new route, the views were amazing and I met a BSR crew member and someone had left me a note (how cool!). About now I realised getting a number 4 haircut wasn’t a good idea as my scalp was getting burnt – but gladly, at least a light westerly had developed to keep the heat manageable.
So up down up down all the way to Kime Hut. At this point I was still feeling ok (relatively speaking). It was definitely left for glory. I actually couldn’t go right to Otaki Forks (bail out option) as that would mean a massive drive for my lovely lady and our 1-year-old, so off to Kaitoke it was. Man it’s a big circle from mount Hector to Alpha Hut! I had a bit of a down moment here thinking how far I still had to go, I was really looking forward to getting back in the forest.
On Marchant Ridge I made some great progress on the hills and flats but I was really struggling going down with sore thighs and good blisters. Oh well though just gota keep moving. I had my first sit down on the track for a brief feed then I was like come on just get up and go. So that’s what I did. At end of long runs minutes start to go past like hours used to at the start. But then I past the Puffer Track and realised I was going to achieve my goal. Was stoked as hearing Hester yelling out at the car park. With a smelly hug it was done in 22hrs7mins Solo Unassisted – I was stoked with my longest, steepest most technical run to date.
Thanks so much to Hester and Finn for listening to me talk a lot about the SK. My family for supporting me (am really happy doing this as it was Dad’s tramping ground for 5 years). Tim Sutton for the chats, insights, weather forecaster and great guy. All the BSR crew for all the great messages of support. Chris Martin for all is work and enthusiasm on the SK.
Till next time ( can’t believe I’ve already read a Tarn SK report only 2 days after completing the Main Range!).
Weight 2 days after – 85.1kg
- Osprey Duro 15 pack
- Dry bag:(2 long sleeve thermals, long medium merino, long thermal pants, merino socks)
- Plastic bag: (Thermal gloves, wind proof gloves, merino balaclava)
- Ultimate Direction ultra-pants and jacket
- Running clothes and hat
- 5-liter bladder .5-liter shoulder strap bladder
- SOL survival bag + first aid
- Map and compass
- iPhone 7 (ViewRanger on airplane mode)
- Black Diamond distance carbon z poles
- Nitecore HC65 head torch with 2 spare battery’s
- Spot tracker
- Salomon Slab sense 7 Shoes
- Moxie Gaiters
- 10liters total water drunk during the day
- 5 cliff bars – (ate 4)
- 5 chocolate bars – (ate 5)
- 26 SIS gels – (ate 26)
- 6 Beer sticks – (ate 4)
- 46 GU Roctane electrolyte capsules – (ate 42)
- Ate 4 caffeine capsules
|Total Time||Time Between Points|
|Putara Road End||0000||0000|
|Anderson Memorial Hut||9hrs35mins||85mins|