by Pat Freeman
Committed to attend a family wedding in New Zealand, I had the nagging thought that I had not yet qualified for Comrades and was running out of “time & marathons” as we would be away for 6 weeks. Added to this dilemma was the fact that I had not yet fully recovered from my hip op in July, which made me doubt my mental and physical capabilities.
The fact that they advertised “beginners” Marathon was all I needed, I didn’t think twice to enter the second staging of the Kirikiriroa Marathon 2017. “Kirikiriroa” being the Maori name for Hamilton, the fourth largest city in New Zealand, and the town through which the Marathon is run. They had no more than 200 runners taking part & the start & finish was positioned in the Hamilton Botanical Gardens – a beautiful world renowned place of interest.
To set the scene, the mighty Waikato River runs right through the length of Hamilton & the botanical gardens. There are beautiful pathways/forests/ferns/wooden bridges/flowers & cobblestones flanking the river, and the entire 42km marathon is run on these paths. The scenery whilst running was so beautiful, the weather was not too hot, & to add to the entertainment, there were sculling boats racing up and down the river. I then had the luck of “running into” a South African who encouraged me with my confidence to get back into my running groove, and we ran most of the race together! I was so grateful to finish in 4.48, I could not stop smiling for the last 5km when I realised I would make it!
New Zealand has excellent running options at every turn. The outdoors and natural beauty is there to be enjoyed and access via pathways and cycle tracks litter the country. Trail running is especially excellent because of the vast number of mountains/forests lakes and beach terrain with safe pathways & numerous sparkling clean public TOILETS! Trash Recycling is enforced at all levels and it is wonderful to see such a clean and unspoilt environment.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed the marathon, trail runs and even a parkrun. We had an unbelievable holiday experience! A new Zealand visit is highly recommended.