Zabljak, Montenegro: 31 August – 5 September, 2019
Saturday 31 August
After a long bus trip, where I caught up on Black Mirror, met a friendly local named Oli who helped translate the comments of the driver, and spent as much of my remaining Dinar as possible on junk food at a small roadside shop, I arrived to Zabljak!
It was fantastic to check in at the Hiker’s Den Hostel and meet the two proprietors Alex and Stefan, two helpful guys who were keen to have me. “We are glad to have someone like you here!” I recall them remarking as I shared my passion for trail running, and they planned out a couple of great missions for me to tick off on the Durmitor National Park in the coming days.Read More
I arrived to Slovenia by bus, after some time in the Balkans, to meet Sam in Bled for a fun few days of trail and banter in the Julian Alps. Sam Mowat, recently profiled as the best Wild Thing in this fluff piece, was a great choice for a Wild Buddy! On the Sunday we enjoyed a leisurely stroll around the water and planned out three exciting missions for the coming days. I bought a massive bag of pasta at Spar.
Two Kiwis lapping up the atmosphere at Lake Bled before unleashing on the surrounding hills!
The Old Ghost Ultra (or ‘Ghost to Ghost’ as my mum coined it) wasn’t on my hit-list this year. However, you only ever hear great things about the event, and the rare chance for a late entry was tempting. After a fun evening at the ‘Run with Ruth’ on Tuesday, it was all go, go taper that is.
Vertical Grand Serre (VGS) is among the world’s shortest vertical kilometres (VKs), enclosing an elevation gain of 1000 metres in just 1811 metres. In 2019 this was also the finale of the VK World Circuit. It is simply another real dream challenge for the vertically inclined! Read More
Blidinje National Park, Bosnia and Herzevogina – 24 August, 2019
How did you find out about this race? I was watching a Kilian Jornet Salomon video and glanced at the comments. One comment read “Are you coming to Cvrsnica Ultra Trail this year?” I thought to myself “what is Cvrsnica Ultra Trail?” A quick search revealed some beautiful photos of the Blidinje National Park in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a race profile of around 50km, 2500m D+. Finishing study soon for good, I was spending plenty of time dreaming about the European summer I would be enjoying later in the year. Knowing almost nothing about Bosnia except “wasn’t there a war there not that long ago?”, it seemed like an exciting, unknown destination and it appeared to be open for business as far as tourism is concerned, having a great visa upon arrival ‘no planning required’ policy for New Zealand passport holders. I signed up early and was told to just pay when I got there so there was no firm commitment so to speak, until a couple of weeks out I said to myself ‘Lock it in. I’ll make the logistics happen somehow.’ Read More
It had been on my radar for a long time. If you’re passionate about running / hiking up hills, then the vertical races of Europe are a real draw. It looked like the pick of these challenging events was the K3: 3000 metres of elevation gain in a 9.7 kilometre course, the world’s only triple vertical kilometre race. The Italian town of Susa is the host of this VK world circuit race from some ancient ruins in the town centre at 503 masl to the very top of Monte Rocciamelone at an impressive 3538 masl. Read More
After the usual nervous wait in the port-a-loo queue with what initially wasn’t going to be enough time, then was just enough time, then was absolutely fine, I was amongst the 150+ mountain runners listening to Terry’s last words before a 6AM start to the event that you don’t race, but rather just survive. The wild and hilarious briefing the night before had set the tone for an adventure.Read More
“This is a serious mountain mission”, so the website for the Mt Difficulty Ascent (MDA) boldly states. And for good reason. I had wanted to do this annual event for just over a year. After my marathon debut at the Mt Oxford Odyssey last year I wasn’t in a position to manage the 3 week turn around to have a crack at MDA the same season. This year I targeted MDA and had a great build up at the MOO half. It’s difficult to formulate goals for big scary events like this, but I was aiming for a sub-7 hour finish.Read More
With a solid 6 week build up after sporadic holiday running, I had put myself in a good space for this event. I was eyeing a sub 6 hour run for the full marathon, but had never been too sure about how realistic that was. I was conflicted between the small number of finishers under 6 hours in the last few years (maybe it was asking too much?) and my good feeling when comparing the course to that of the Oxford Odyssey MM last May, where I had a great day and finished in 7:18. Also, I was feeling that I could be in better shape now, so maybe it was ambitious, but just right? Dream big! Luckily I found one of back-to-back Hardrocker Grant Guise’s slower SMMM efforts on Strava where he had run a 6:03 and this provided some good info on possible splits!Read More
Keen to continue to make the most of the flexibility of postgraduate study, I had jumped on some Jetstar sale flights to Melbourne and when I looked optimistically for an event to coincide with a couple of weeks in Australia (during the sale dates…) I was stoked to see something from the ANZ skyrunning calendar pop up! I had an awesome day at the super challenging Mt Oxford Odyssey mountain marathon in May and then saw the Mt Difficulty Ascent was 3 weeks later (which looked epic too), but I wasn’t up for such a short turnaround and Achilles niggles following Oxford would not have made that a fun day out! So by now I was really keen to get stuck into an ‘official’ sky running event! The Bright 4 Peaks offered a heavy serve of elevation gain over the 4 days and was right up my alley.Read More
You don’t have much bargaining power when you’re in Sa Pa arranging a motorbike taxi for 4:30AM the next day and they know the reason you’re leaving so early isn’t actually to see the love waterfall at sunrise, despite what you may say. I was keen to make a solo summit of Mt. Fansipan, the tallest peak of Indochina, during my stay in Northern Vietnam. The issue was that you usually need to arrange an expensive guide and go with a tour that takes 2 days. I knew this expedition was within my abilities, and I was keen for another big run during my 6 week trip through South East Asia. Time to have a real adventure!Read More
Mt Oxford Odyssey Mountain Marathon – My first marathon event!
I met my fellow marathoner Kevin Grimwood at around 5:40AM on Sunday the 21st of May when he picked me up and we headed out of town toward Oxford. We were on our way to the Oxford Odyssey mountain marathon, an epic mountain run in Canterbury with around 3500 metres of elevation gain. The start time change from 6:30 to 7:30 helped with getting a better sleep before the big event. It was pretty dark as we arrived at the carpark near Cooper’s Creek and not just a little chilly. After a gear check, nervous bowel evacuation and waiting as long as possible before ditching the extra warm clothes, it was time for the race briefing. The weather had not quite done enough to cause a route change so we were in for the full 3500 metres as promised.Read More
It had been a long time since I went tramping. I had plenty of experience from family trips as a youngster, though annoyingly my memories of these are a bit patchy as I was quite young. This was definitely my first solo multiday hiking trip. It would be interesting to have to organise everything myself and make sure I was well prepared. I had heard that Patagonia was not so forgiving. I had brought more warm clothes with me than I could really imaging needing, but better to be on the safe side. The food was an interesting selection. I went with muesli flavoured with nesquik powder for breakfast, rolls with cheese and salami for lunch, and pasta with soup sachets and frozen vege and tuna for dinner. For snacks I had a nice array of nuts and dried fruits from Fruta Seca, a bit of a classic for hikers departing from Puerto Natales, Snickers, some berry chocolate and a 10 pack of ‘Frac Cake’, which I had never tried. I was maybe the only person to not realise immediately that they might not travel well.Read More