Waharau to Piha fail

Auckland traverse, starting at Waharau on the Firth of Thames, finishing on Piha Beach and crossing the three highest peaks in the region. That sounds like a good idea. I could totally knock that off unsupported and in daylight hours.

Sure.

After 12hrs running I was still convinced it was possible. Obviously I was incoherent and basic maths was beyond me.

No. Not possible.

Sometimes after 13hrs I had the oh cr@p moment realizing not only that I couldn’t possibly make it, but I was also 2hrs minimum from any extract point.

From the beginning…

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The only coast I’d see today

Dawn on the beach at Waharau, and with company as Evan and Dave joined me for the first 32km leg to Clevedon over the 688m Kohukohunui. The mood was light and carefree. The wizard sticks were out. Seemed pretty easy, Dave and Evan were great pacers. At 32km the leg ended with a fantastic cronut at With Relish. Also started chatting with a guy who seemed had no degree’s of separation from the MEC (he knew Caleb).

 

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Cronuts – the ultimate running fuel

Packed up the wizard sticks and said goodbye to Evan and Dave (thanks guys) and headed off to Maungawhau. This was the leg I was dreading – had nightmares about that u-bend bridge without a footpath on Whitford Rd. Cars tend to hit that corner fast and literally given by the piles of vehicular detritus. Ended up waiting for a decent gap and hoofed it safely – max speed of the day was here 3:32min/km.

The drag out across Pakuranga and Pamnure was long, uninteresting and hot with little shade but lots of traffic. Also was constantly on the hunt for water and tasty food options. Found a nice looking, cool, large, apple and cinnamon slice to supplement the dozens of muesli bars I’d been inhaling.

Was really starting to feel it after refilling my water bladder at Remuera library. Nothing catastrophic, just the ‘slow-down’. You know, when any extra impedance drops your pace dramatically even though running in easy conditions is still easy’ish. At 70km (9:50hrs) I dragged my arse up Maungawhau for possibly the slowest ascent of any MEC runner.

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One of my favourite trees (Mt Eden)

I’d anticipated the leg to Titirangi to pass quickly. I was wrong. It took forever. Deep down I think I knew I might not make it with the family pick-up schedule. But after +10hrs of running you are blocking so much out it’s easy to block out sensible thought. I was still delusional and thinking I’d be watching sunset on the beach. [fēnix 3 died on this leg]

It took 2hrs to get the 16km to Titirangi and I was feeling pretty banged up from all the road. Departing the Super Value restocked with smoothies, chips, and muesli bars at 12hrs I headed down Exhibition-Pipeline to the point of no turning back [Polar V800 died around here]. Must have been around the 13.5hr (7:30pm) point where I got the family text saying they were at Piha for fish and chips on the beach, only everything was shut [Ambit2 died shortly after]. Unfed family waiting for me. That’s not good.

Note: too tired to take any pics after Mt Eden.

It finally dawned on me that I had been in la-la land for some time. I was on Hamiltons Saddle 97km/13:45hrs into the run. It was coming up to 8pm and I was 1.5hrs from any exit point. I resolutely killed the thought of attempting Te Toiokawharu (and the triple peak crown) and started looking for the closest exit.

By now anxiety levels were high. I was actually feeling pretty solid (esp since the wizard sticks were back out), had plenty of food/fluid and a decent headlamp. But I was out of reception, night was falling and I had visions of the dark time the family were having.

Decided Upper Huia Damn Track was my best exit option. I managed to put the anxiety to good use and picked up the pace somewhat. Trying to run the Upper Huia at pace in the dark wearing road shoes is an interesting experience. Had never noticed previously but there are no trail markers on the track. Luckily it’s a pretty natural course to follow.

Got out to Piha Rd at 9:22pm (15:25hrs, 106km, 3100m climbing), unfortunately not quite Piha Beach, and no Te Toiokawharu [Ambit3 and FR910XT made it with battery to spare]. A nice finishing touch was the discovery that the support crew were also running on empty. Their petrol light started blinking on way out to Piha. Needless to say the drive back to Titirangi was tense.

So I failed the KMT Traverse. But the run was pretty successful. It’s good to fail sometimes. Think the largely unplanned self supporting aspect was key, hunting down food and water then lugging it slows you down a lot.

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3 thoughts on “Waharau to Piha fail

  1. Great effort mate. That road section sounds every bit as monotonous as I imagined it would be. Sounds like the body came through ok. In retrospect, when did your mind start to part with reality? (Asides from the obvious – contemplating and attempting this run.)

    • Feeling great today, weary but no damage. Knew I had reserve at the end (tractor not greyhound) so hopefully recovery will be kind.

      In hindsight wondering if road monotony severed it early. Went with the no headphone, shut down consciousness approach. I wasn’t even checking the time of day till Titirangi (though elapsed time was hovering unconnected).

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