Mt. Climie Repeats

Mt. Climie Repeats

Training for Northburn 100 stepped-up a gear this weekend, with a full eight hours spent on the trails. I managed 50km of repeats up and down Mt. Climie (Tunnel Gulley), running in Northburn-style….walking uphill using the poles and jogging the flat and the downhill.

Mind was numbed, toes were munged…..but it felt great to knock-off 1/3 of the total Northburn climb in one outing. Looking forward to doing it again soon!

Aorangi Undulator

There’s a few new trail running events emerging in the greater Wellington area at the moment, and one of the very best is the Aorangi Undulator.

The Undulator has an intimidating tagline; “It’s Not For The Weak”, and it certainly lives-up to it. Distance-wise it is “only” 30km, but this race is all about the terrain and the climb. Heaps of stream crossings, gnarly root-covered tracks, and navigational challenges all await those brave enough to take the event on.

I made this short video of my day on the course, it shows a bit of the climbing and fun in the rivers. It also shows what happens when you fall on your arse whilst filming yourself running up a hill ūüėČ

This is a great event. Even though it was the first year of the race everything went very smoothly. Race marshals were present at crucial stages, the course was mostly clear, and everybody had a fantastic day out in the sunshine. I’ll definitely be back in November 2014!

You can learn more about the race here: http://chrismartinc.wix.com/aorangi-undulator

I bought myself a great little gadget called a “StickPic”. This ingenious device lets you stick a camera on the end of a trekking pole (safely!). The end result? It’s like having a miniature helicam following you on your run ūüôā

Check-out my test footage taken from a run up the Lower Hutt firebreaks. It sure made the run more fun, and I was amazed at how easy it was to get good footage using the StickPic. I was using a US$50 camera bought from The Warehouse – cheap!

If you’re interested, you can get you own StickPic at http://www.thestickpic.com/

Tarawera Ultra Training Plan

This week sees the start of my training programme for the 2013 Tarawera Ultra.

I am following a back-to-back long run philosophy this time around, with a long, flat run each Friday morning followed by a long, hilly run each Saturday.

The idea behind this approach is to build a solid endurance base (the Friday runs) and to enhance stamina during long hill sessions (the Saturday runs). I use back-to-back runs in order to get good mileage each week without running myself into the ground. The aim is to cruise through the Friday run (easy pace), and then push myself during the Saturday run (easy pace, but pushing myself on the hills).

The Tarawera course is not known for its hills – there is really only three or four climbs of note – but hill training in general is excellent preparation regardless of the amount of climb on race day.

You can download my training programme by clicking here: Tarawera-2013-training-programme
It is in MS Excel format. Read it, change it, share it – but please let me know if you intend to follow it ūüôā


Everybody needs a long-term plan. Five years ago I built-up to running my first ever marathon. A year later I ran my first ultra, two years after that I ran my first 100km. When I first started running I could never imagine what I have¬†accomplished¬†now. I haven’t set any records, and only rarely feature in the front-runners of a race, but I have gained immense personal satisfaction by setting an audacious goal, training my butt off, and successfully pushing my physical and mental boundaries.

My next goal is definitely the most ambitious yet. I want to qualify for, compete in, and finish…..Ultra Trail Mont Blanc!

This 166km race takes in three countries, nearly 10km of vertical ascent, stunning alpine scenery, and crazy-good support from the numerous villages that the trail weaves its way through. Every year 2,000 racers line-up for the ultimate trail running challenge. The race celebrated its tenth¬†anniversary¬†in 2012, and enjoys a reputation of being “the Olympics of trail running”.

Ultra Trail Mont Blanc -click to enlarge

I am not kidding myself in terms of what is required to qualify for and complete this race. I am allowing myself the best part of four years to achieve this goal. My rough plan for building-up to the event is as follows:

– Tarawera Ultra 2013 (100km)

– Tarawera Ultra 2014 (160km, if it goes ahead!)

– Northburn 100 2015 (160km, 8,500m vertical ascent)

– Ultra Trail Mont Blanc 2013

I intend to track my progress to qualification on this blog in the years ahead. Wish me luck, and I’ll see you on the trails!

Tarawera Ultra 100km

Okay, so I have been very slack with updating this blog over the past year and a half. My biggest omission over this time is not posting about the Tarawera Ultra race.¬†This 100km event takes runners from Rotorua to Kawerau in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island. The course follows some of the country’s most beautiful single track, taking runners through Redwood forest, around (and sometimes through!) stunning lakes, and passing dramatic waterfalls and gorgeous rivers.

Satellite view and elevation profile

Satellite view and elevation profile

The race has an entry limit of 400 runners, which looks like being reached for the first time in 2013. This is great news as 100km races are few and far between in New Zealand, so it is wonderful to see Tarawera meeting such tremendous success. It is one of the few races in the country where mid and back-of-the-pack runners can rub shoulders with professional rock-star class runners in a truly international field.

Me with good friend Brendon Keenan at the start of Tarawera 2011

Me with good friend Brendon Keenan at the start of Tarawera 2011

There are plenty of race reports available for Tarawera – so I won’t provide a full race report here. Suffice to say that if you enjoy well organised, brilliantly supported races with bags of stunning scenery, then this is the race for you.

The Damage Done - the aftermath of Tarawera 2012

The Damage Done – the aftermath of Tarawera 2012

Running up Mt. Climie

Had a great training run up Mt. Climie last weekend. The run is a 800 metre ascent (altitude of 900 metres). The track is accessed at Tunnel Gulley, near the Te Marua turn-off, just a few kms out of Upper Hutt.

The start of the run takes-in the beautiful Tane’s Track, with plenty of native bush and a nice smooth surface. About 2km in a signpost points the way to the “Steep route” up Mt. Climie – and then things get nasty! The next 500m is all steep, technical terrain with very little opportunity for actual running. Lots of mud and tree roots with some scrambling over fallen branches for good measure. Good fun!

Once clear of the rough stuff we emerged onto a gravel road.The track is in great condition, very easy to follow, and runs all the way to the summit.

Take a look at the video, which was captured using my training partner’s camera. There is a bit of camera shake at the start, but it does give you a good idea of the kind of terain you can expect, and also the stunning views from the top. The weird moving text at the bottom of the picture is a side-effect of YouTube’s image¬†stabilization¬†feature – won’t be using that again!!