I’ve never been a big fan of running, so the fact that this particular running event is broken up with amusing obstacles like barbed-wire, gang planks, fences, highwires, ponds, holes, rubber tyres, spider nets, and my all time favourite, the swamp that is armpit deep and the constancy of porridge where belly flops and clawing over the backs others is acceptable makes the run almost enjoyable.
The day starts with much primping, preening, as well as the manditory circulation destroying taping of sneakers to feet. Some of the costumes of note this year was a fat man in a three piece suit, the standard Borat swimsuit number, a bunch a buff boys in their daughters fairy outfits, a gaggle of Cindy Lauper’s drowned in purple blusher, a flock of Pukekos whose bright blue and orange plumage defined the ravages of the day, a bumble-bee duo who didn’t fare quite so well, plus assortments of cape wearing superheroes and wig bearers.
Once the preening is out of the way, the participants line up on the start, which is not much other than a precipitous farm knoll – an ominous reminder that nothing much will be easy on this day. With the hooter and much yahoo, the hordes of colourful humans race up the hill.
The run is over hilly farm with a bit of bush and swamp thrown in for good measure. Quite a bit of the chase is on single track making overtaking quite difficult in places, so if you’re a competitive Swamp Hen or Borat it may pay to get yourself in a good position at the start to avoid the fat-guy in the suit holding your up.
But the running is only a small aspect of the day – most polish off that slice of the event in 1 to 2 hours. The next event is the mass clean up. The grounds soon become an unabashed community of people mozzing around in mud-caked daks and bras, lining up for taps and outdoor showers by the hundred, offering helping hands and giving washing tips and advise to complete strangers tackling to get the drying mud from the crevices of human construction.
That done, it’s time to jump into the bubbling hot pool to sooth any new aches and pains acquired and all lingering mud stuck to the body is cleaned up by the pool filter.
The day ends with the prize giving in the barn (where the major prize winners are almost guaranteed to have left early) and an evening after-event party in Rotorua during which they show some classic video footage of what humans do for fun – I’m sure David Attenborough would have loved to do the voice over – ‘now here you can witness the human species undertaking a rather fascinating ritual ….”