The Tough Guy/Gal Challenge is a race through either 6 or 12 kilometers. It involves running (or trying to run) up and down hills, through mud pits, running through rivers, up and over obstacle courses, all while trying not to get trampled on by hundreds of other wet, cold, but determined human beings taking part.
Who would want to do that, you might ask? Well, us crazy folk for one! We decided to take part in the challenge quite a few months ago, it was then that I made the decision to take training for this rather seriously, as we have quite a competitive streak running through the office. Right now, all bets are on and it’s us (the Marketing/Communications team) against the Business Management/Developers team.
Well, I did train… a little, but none of my training sessions were very serious, and I would stop and ‘have a break’ for a few weeks thinking I had all the time in the world up my sleeves! But it all came crashing down when I realized there were only four weeks left until the competition, and I was no where fit enough to complete the course without probably suffering from heart or leg malfunctions.
When I was having a minor inner debate (freak-out more like) about it, I came up with a great solution. It probably will not be enough training t0 be able to comfortably run the course and finish at a reasonable time, but I think this will help, and it will also benefit me in other ways I suspect.
My solution? I’m going mountain running! Well, I tried.
There are a lot of bush walks and hiking tracks around the Waikato (the central region in New Zealand in which I now reside), the countryside is beautiful, and i’ll be hitting three birds with one stone on this mission. I’m going to get fit, explore our great region, and get away for some quality solo ‘me’ time, as I will do one track every weekend. Since I haven’t posted on here in a while, I thought it would be a cool topic to blog about, and share my experiences!
First up on the list? Pirongia. Pirongia is probably the most popular tramping (‘tramping’ is New Zealand’s weird word for ‘hiking’) destination in the Waikato. It’s around about a 35 minute drive from my house, and the mountain offers a huge number of tracks up in the bush, with even a hut to stay in for a two day trip.
Yep, I decided this on the Thursday, and made plans for my first excursion that Saturday, there was no time to waste!
Well I ended up waking late on Saturday morning to dismay, the skies were grey and the air was very wet with a steady drizzle. But with set determination (and after a sneaky weather check to see similar conditions for Sunday) I prepared my gear and set out. Thank you Granny for letting me borrow your raincoat!
I took the trip down to Pirongia, choosing the less common Waite Road entry. The track started off at the very end of a gravel road, and the first little bit was over a paddock which then crossed a small stream and followed a fence line up in to the trees. The air was lovely, fresh and sweet at the same time, and the sound of the rain on the leaves above me was really relaxing, but after about 10 minutes of climbing it was hard to hear anything but my heart beat and breaths that were slowly getting heavier.
There were quite a few times I stopped on the ascent to catch my breath, wondering if I was ever going to reach the allusive summit. The track was quite rough in some sections, over rocks and a lot of tree stumps and roots, but it was still very pleasant.
After about an hour and half I met two people hanging out on some rocks in an opening of the trees, but the weather was still not great so the view lasted a few meters then it was just grey. They thought they were at the first look out, but I was pretty sure they weren’t and told them they should keep climbing. I passed them and kept going, and I was right! Another 5 minutes got me to the Ruapune look out, and it was great! I sat down just as the skies cleared a little and I saw the paddocks and some cows below me, then the two people I had spoke to arrived, they were happy they made it to the look out.
When I got to the top I was tired, soaked, out of breath, but so happy. What a great climb! The rewarding feeling was totally worth all that hard work, but I’m not going to lie, I was so relieved I could start going back down, but just before I did, a rainbow appeared! And it was magnificent.
I only stayed at the top for about 10 minutes, and on the way back, I ran! Well, for most of it, the track was so rocky and uneven from the trees in some parts that it wouldn’t be wise to run down in case I twisted my ankle, and there was no one else along the path I had seen in case I needed help. But at every opportunity, I did actually run! And it was amazing.
This was a great idea, Anna, the endorphins kicked in, and on the way home I took my boots and raincoat off, blasted the heater and the radio in my car, and left for home feeling pretty great. If you’re ever wondering about taking on a solo trip like that, I highly recommend it! But make sure you’re prepared – safety first, of course!