If Mizuno wanted the perfect day to promote their inaugural Off-Road Half Marathon, this was it. I woke to a spring frost on a calm blossom scented street under a cloudless blue sky, and out my window sparkled a mirror lake playing the imposing foreground to snow-capped mountains. This is the Taupo I love, and this was Taupo at its absolute best.
Mizuno’s Off-Road Half Marathon is the third and last half marathon in Mizuno’s 63.3km Taupo Series. The course is on the southern half of the Whakaipo to Kinloch (W2K) track. It starts in Kinloch (20km west of Taupo), winds up and around the headlands loop and back to Kinloch.
Seven hundred plus runners and walkers made their way to the picturesque lakeside village of Kinloch for the 9am start in brisk but beautiful conditions. Despite the glorious day, I wasn’t much looking forward to the run. I have let my training slide drastically due to work commitments this year, and my running has consisted of only a handful of slow jogs, not exceeding 8kms and the Tough Guy & Gal Challenge three weeks prior. I fully anticipated the last 8kms of the event to be a struggle; the only consolation is the fact that the last 8kms of the run was all downhill.
Runners and walkers set off together at the hooter so the entrance to the track proper became quite bottlenecked and slow at the start. During the first few kilometres there were so many people on the width of the track that it was slow and difficult to pass, with courtesy devoid walkers acting as ‘road tampons’ blocking the way two-abreast.
I should have positioned myself better at the start to avoid the walkers and stragglers, but I chugged on and found by putting myself on the inside corners of the bends was the easiest way to pass without too much extra effort on my part – the biggest problem was avoiding elbow nose contact.
The run itself was beautiful, lovely bush on a rolling wide track, interspersed with sweeping views of Whakaipo and Whangamata Bay, and the steep deep green bluffs that jut out into the lake which are typical to this side of the lake (that’s if you dared take your eyes off the track). But just stunning!
The course climbed for the first three or four kilometres, flatten off a bit, then climbed again until about the 12km mark, and from then on it was pretty much downhill all the way back to Kinloch. The last kilometre is along the beachfront boardwalk, road then through the marina to the finish line outside the Kinloch Community Centre. After all that downhill, my calf muscles had packed up, gone home and fallen asleep, so they struggled to come to terms with the level gradient and I was reminded of how little training I’d done for this run. That last kilometre was probably the hardest in my life. But I made the finish chute in 2:12 – that isn’t the slowest half of mine, but close to it.
I took my aching legs for a thigh deep dip in the icy lake to soothe the damage, bought an ice-cream from the diary, a hot sausage from finishing line then lay down like a lizard in the sun. I soon found myself talking to a man from Hamilton who had done two of the Mizuno’s Half Marathons. He was so impressed by our little town than he was now seriously considering moving to Taupo … I just had to smirk to myself because sometimes you can’t help but feel lucky. Just beautiful!
Thanks Mizuno! Was awesome!