It all started back in June 2018. I had just run my first Ultra the WUU2K in Wellington and was sitting at the batch in Hatepe resting my sore body and watching Tim Sutton’s Tippies for Timmy promotion that he was doing for “Chasing the Revenant.”I messaged Tim the next day.
A message led to a phone call. A phone call led to another call. Another call led to a question. I think it went along the lines of…. “How tough is a Main Range SK?”
Answer. “you can’t run the whole thing but if you walk where you have to and run where you can then you will make it.” got off the phone and thought. “I can do that.”Might also like to mention that he said “you have to get yourself very very fit.”
I would also like to say that even though this seemed very simple to me, this should not be taken lightly and anybody who has completed it deserves incredible respect. So six months later, a huge amount of effort running, HIIT, squash and any other exercise I could squeeze into my life I was standing at Mangatainoka road end.
I was in an interesting head space going into this mission. My original plan was to start on Friday not Sunday and had gotten quite jittery as the day got closer. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t going to play ball and it was off the table. I felt quite deflated as a result. Fortunately I was able to reorganise work and with the help and support of my lovely wife an d my support crew we were able reorganise a Sunday start. This meant that I had to pick myself up again but even though I was excited and quite nervous, I was strangely more relaxed than I normally would be.
So there I was Pack on, poles in hand ready to go. And off I went.My friend/support driver Mark and I ran together for the first part as he did a run to check out Roaring Stag hut. We left each other at the turn off. 11.30am was the start time. I decided on this with the help of Tim. I am not a fast runner, a sold medium guy at best. I liked this time as it meant that I would have plenty of daylight to navigating the Northern section easier. Night would come earlier and I wouldn’t be as fatigued to deal with it and then when I was relay starting to feel it, the new day would come and that would help me to get it done. It seemed logical, well at least it did to me.
After leaving Mark at the turnoff the next hour, couple of hours, I don’t really know was pretty uneventful. Herepai came and went. I only refilled one 500ml soft flask. Navigating up towards East peak was straightforward. Conditions couldn’t of been better. High cloud but unlimited visibility so not to hot and 5-10knots of wind. I then discovered that my fancy new watch had the GPX coordinates loaded into the map section. Awesome, so just follow the arrow.
I did get the map out a couple of times just to make sure!
I had been warned about how easy it just to get lost up there and even though I had all these tools sometimes I felt like I was going in the wrong direction. I really wanted to make a good job of navigating the Northern section as to not waste energy and to do it well would be a massive mental boost.
I guess the next part of the adventure to share was heading up towards West Peak. To be honest I started this mission with a bit of a blocked nose. Nothing to serious but if their was anything going to stop me then that was it. I was blowing hard, climbing was feeling very labored and I was feeling like it might be getting a bit more serious but I was underway now and Kaitoke was the finish! It was my first down moment. I’d only just started. Hadn’t even got onto Dundas Ridge and I’m already having one…. CRAP!! I downed an E shot and immediately felt heaps better.
Up through Walker and Pukemoremore. Going well, not so much climbing and I feel like I’m making good time. Through Logan. Right water starting to get low. Where is that Tarn? First mistake. Tim had told me about it but I’d gone straight past it. Id even looked at it and thought “I wouldn’t drink out of that.” Ha hindsight, not going back now. Thankfully I found a puddle. Yes a puddle! shortly down the ridge. I managed to fill my 2 soft flasks but I wasn’t game enough to fill my bladder. A couple of aqua tabs and some electrolytes in there. Hands down the best tasting puddle in the park! I started running again and of course I found some much better puddles shortly down the ridge but I kept going.
Going well. Through Dundas and along the ridge up to Arete. Quick wave at my friends that I said I would wave to. Considered going to Arete hut for water, decided against. Its all downhill to Drac right. One thing I’m a bit slow in learning is “there is nothing easy in a Main Range SK.”
Hit Te Aroroa Trail. Bladder almost dry now. I can’t eat much as hard to chew and mindful of digestion issues. With these missions I need to eat consistently! Keep going, still making good time.
Was beautiful up there as evening was setting in, just me and my thoughts thinking. “Wow, here I am. Main Range SK. I would never of thought that I would try and run the length of the Tararuas!”
Fluids starting to get very low. Where is Drac Biv? Can’t be much further, can’t eat anything. Just keep going! I drank the last of my fluid about five minutes before the hut! Into Drac and what a relief. Water, give me water. But not to much mate but so thirsty. This was the first proper rest since leaving. Food, water, reload, got to get going, make most of the daylight!
Water and Barley Sugars are my friend. Electrolytes aren’t working.
Coming up to my next tough spot. Bit dehydrated still. Still learning “there’s nothing easy in a Main Range SK.” Sharp ups and downs are taking there toll but working through it. Just look where you are! Look how far you’ve come! Positive thoughts mate.
Starting to get dark now. In and out of bush but its not quite headlamp time just yet. What was that? Just a Deer. Keep going. Feeling better now. Food and water are working.
Past Nicholls and out to Mt Crawford. Headlamp on now. Junction Knob. Ye Haa!! Familiar territory. What a lift!!! Great running and into Andersons. Reload at Andersons. Food. Peanut Butter and Butter sandwiches are so dry despite more fillings than bread. Eggs are ok. Fill bladder again, I’ve drunken over 5L water since arriving at Drac.
Starting to get into the Southern Main Range proper now but going well. Up to Aokaparangi. Stargaze like I said. Conditions are awesome. Clear skies, light winds. Been running in a short sleeve Icebreaker and a light vest..
It’s funny how much I didn’t remember from when I did the SMR two months ago. Coming off Akap. Man this is steep! Make sure of your feet! Must be somewhere around 2am now. Headlamp starting to dim, time to swap out. Safety first! What a massive difference! Took the opportunity to eat as I had to empty my pack. The wind has also picked up, jacket on. Time to get moving and keep warm.
Into Simpson or approaching (hard to tell in the dark). There’s some grunty hills in here. I don’t remember that but still moving well. Through Mangahuka, no stopping and into the Peaks. Yip they as gnarly as I remember. They not as scary because you can’t see how far you would fall. Still moving well but definitely starting to feel it. 16-17 hours on the go now.
Getting through the SMR now but I’m mindful of the Bridge Peak climb. Sweet, here we are, up we go. No next down moment! Climb up the hill to see the real Bridge Peak way way in the distance. My feet are really starting to hurt now. I feel like every stone in the Ranges is in my shoes and I can’t get them out! There are no stones in my shoes! Into the Bridge Peak climb now and really struggling. Carry yourself man, you are using way more energy than you need to.
“There is nothing easy in a Main Range SK.”
Up up up and I’m there! Left for Glory! One more hill and into Kime. Beauty!!
Was great to meet my friend Jonah at Kime. This was prearranged as Jonah wanted to run the Southern Crossing and also be part of the SK mission. Jonah was not there at Kime designed to be support and did not provide me with food, drink, supplies etc, but I would be lying if I didn’t say it wasn’t a massive boost to have a yarn with a good mate. My objective was to be solo unsupported. I previously had a conversation with him re this. If I was battling he can just go. But he’s the kind of guy who wouldn’t do that no matter how many times you told him. Legend!
Fuel up and reload. Clean out and wash shoes and socks. Quick note, compression socks are very hard to take on and off so I didn’t. What I would have given for a clean, fresh, dry pair of socks. It probably wouldn’t of helped but…..
Out of Kime and heading up to Hector. Feeling good but moving slowly. At least I don’t feel like there’s sandpaper on my feet. Quick photo at Hector and on we go. It’s amazing how my perspective has changed in less than 12 months since doing the TMRace. I used to think these hills were steep. Its quite windy and I feel like I’m getting burnt but just want to keep going. Slow and steady. One foot in front of the other!
Into Alpha, last hut. I’ve been checking them off. More food. Let’s get this done. Dam my feet hurt. Anyone who knows Marchant Ridge knows that it just keeps going and that’s what it did for me. To many stops to mention. Had parts where I was moving and then I’d have to stop again. I just started saying to myself “ You can do this” over and over again. I also knew that there were so many people to get it done. I just had to fill myself up on that. Just keep going. I think it’s time to quote Tim Carpenter’s great piece of advice. “Expect everything to take longer than you expect” and nothing was truer than Marchant that morning or was it afternoon. It didn’t really matter and then it was done. 27 hours 40. Kaitoke. You little beauty!!! Mark is there waiting for us. I’m so broken I can’t get my socks off. He sorts it. Thanks mate. Next level!!
What next? Local burger joint for a greasy cheeseburger (double cheese).
Guy at the burger joint says he has had a tough day because the eftpos was down. Should I tell him? He probably wouldn’t understand. I decided against. “Just give me my burger PLEASE!”
In summary, Main Range SK. “There is nothing easy in a Main Range SK.” Tough incredible mission. Don’t undertake unless you are ready to handle a bit, no a lot of pain. But as I sit here writing this with my feet in a salt ice bath two days after the mission, the good far outweighs the bad and I have journeyed from one end of the Tararuas to the other. We are all capable of much more than we know and we won’t know until we try. I know I’m not the first person to write this but I really do believe not a truer word was written.
Andrew Martin. Fuzzy.
North Face Ultra Endurance
Montane Dragon 20
LEKI Micro Variable Poles
13 Egg omelette with 250gms Bacon, Onion, Broccoli cooke in 3Tbsp Coconut Oil
1 Peanut butter/Butter Sandwich (bread is the vessel)
2 Packs Shot Blocks
4 E Shots
GU and Isagenix Electrolytes 3L worth
Barley Sugars, half pack probably.