The Great Forest 2011 event sponsored by Brooks was held at Waitarere Beach just outside of Foxton/Levin on Saturday, Apr 2nd. Claiming to be NZ’s premier off road running and walking event, there was a variety of options available, from 5km to a full marathon. This year attracted a crowd of around 2000 runners and walkers.
I set off towards Foxton Beach from Palmy just after 8am. It was slightly chilly but it was a clear day without a cloud in sight, and so as the sun rose behind me, the day promised to get a lot hotter! I got there in plenty of time to pick up my race pack (which was pretty much just my race number and timing chip). There were already food stalls and a coffee barista operating out of the back of a specially fitted car boot/trunk. It was a pretty festive carnival-like atmosphere, complete with a big top which housed Registration.
The event centre(big top) was just at the edge of the Matariki Forest, and the run would take us through a mixed terrain through the forest, mostly hard packed gravel and clay, some loose sandy bits, a stretch of soft pine needles, with a short sprint finish through a grassy patch. I opted for the 10km run, and caught up with a couple of friends who had been my teammates in the round-lake-Taupo relay run. I knew Bernie was going to be slightly faster than me, and so I tried to hang onto her from the very start for as long as I could. By the 6km mark, I was surprised to find myself still keeping pace. It started to become a mental game, and I clung on (by my finger nails, I think). The last 2km was painful – we were out of the forest by then and the sun was blistering. I finished 18 seconds behind Bernie, and set my own personal best which I was quite happy about.
It was a brilliant day for running – no wind, though a bit hot by mid morning. The course was excellent – scenic, but you had to watch your step with loose bits of gravel and uneven surfaces. Not too hard for a clutz like me to fall flat on my face, which fortunately didn’t happen though it nearly did. The toilet facilities were also excellent – no port-a-loos, instead there were a couple of trailers with proper clean flush toilets. Always a good thing, as I don’t do port-a-loos.
Overall, it was a very good day for all of us. I hope to be back next year!