I ran the inaugural ORCA Trailblazer Marathon on Waiheke on Saturday November 16th 2013, in what proved to be a tough but rewarding course.
I’ve only run on Waiheke once before when I ran the “Wharf 2 Wharf 2 Wharf” with some friends back in July. That was a road run, but as we ran across the island and back again we could see there were many interesting looking trails all over the place. So I thought what better than to kick off my training for the Tarawera Ultra in March next year with a trail marathon over on Waiheke?!
I won’t bore you with the finer details of my run, other than to say it took me 5:59 with half splits of 2:35 and 3:24 (it was a two lapper this year). It was a tougher course that I had expected and I’m not really that well trained for running that far (distance) or that long (time) and haven’t done much in the way of technical trail running recently. I think under better circumstances I should have been able to come in almost an hour faster.
The course itself, while tough, has a bit of everything. There was running across grassy paddocks, a lot of single track through beautiful native bush, a small amount of road, some gravel paths, beaches, oyster shell and rock hopping, and a bit of muddy bog fairly close to the end! There were also excellent views of the harbour and glimpses of Auckland city off in the distance.
The aid stations were manned by the Coast Guard and what a great job they did. There was water and lollies at all aid stations and they were all very friendly and encouraging, marking you off their checklist as you passed through.
This was the first year for this event and Synergy Sports Events, the event organisers, made it a 2x21km course for the first year. Next year will feature more or less the same course for the 15km and 21km events but with a single 42km loop for the marathoners. I’m looking forward to exploring more of Waiheke’s trails already!