The Gazuntite 2018
So we didn’t get the chance to run The Hillary this year, and instead were offered a
Trump the Gazuntite!
I won the entry for the 34k last year during the post-Hillary prize giving. I had never run more than a half marathon at the time, pushed a lot during the 16k (my first trail event) and was wondering how on Earth I would run 34k… ON TRAILS! But after a year of pushing my limits, I wasn’t really worried about it when I drove about 90min North of Auckland at the Atiu Creek regional park.
This event replaced the Hillary this year (and might for the coming ones…) and definitely had a lower profile in terms of attendance… But oh boy not in terms of effort! As Shaun Collins, the race director, put it during the race briefing: we were in for a treat. Hills, more hills, swamps, a bit of forest, hills and hills again, jumping fences over and over again. A lot of fun to come! And the weather was really nice too: very sunny, perfect to enjoy the views from the park.
I think this race was the toughest I had done so far. I struggled during the Waihi Marathon, but I was really sick that day. The Gazuntite, on the other hand, was simply physically draining and it took me a few days to recover. The terrain was rough, especially when running in dry paddocks where the ground was hard and uneven and the risk of twisting an ankle was constant.
I also think that the event starts too late. 10 am for the 34k and 12 pm for the 16k means that we are going to suffer the heat. And there was almost no shade during the entire course. The first aid station was after 9km and I saw a few 16k runners without any water: I would not recommend doing this for such an event. Be prepared.
But while it was hard, it was also a ton of fun. The ascents were steep, but so were the descents. I found it exhilarating to run downhill. I read somewhere that we should enjoy the momentum and embrace it to avoid hurting our knees trying to slow down. Which is exactly what I did: In some of these downhills, I felt like I was 10 years old.
Another highlight of the day for me was that I spent most of it running with Erwin (in orange on the pictures). We were running at the same pace and decided to stick together throughout the event, which was really nice. This is something that has never happened to me during road running events: trails are where friendships are born. We were also accompanied by Seitaro Yonetsu, a runner from Japan, whom we dropped a few kilometers before the finish line, only to pat him on the back after he crossed it.
Was the event memorable? Yes, but I don’t think I would run it again. The park is beautiful, but the terrain is not that various. As mentioned earlier, it’s also very exposed, and while we suffered from the heat, I think it would have been terrible if it was raining. Being soaked wet in the mud with no cover wouldn’t have been very enjoyable. Especially when it took me almost 2h to go home after the run.