New Zealand: Bayley's Mountain to Surf Marathon

Okay friends, grab a snack and settle in, this is a long one!

Race morning started early, as I had asked to start with the walkers (because I wanted to beat the heat) and needed to be on the shuttle at 5:30. I got dressed while my wonderful hubby made me coffee and an English muffin with almond butter and honey. The cold I felt coming on earlier in the week never got worse, but it also never got better, so I had a bit of a sore throat and stuffy nose. However, I felt a million times better than last year in Tokyo! 

I got on the shuttle and was warmly greeted by the other runners. This definitely seemed to be a locals race, as everyone else knew each other and most of the people on my bus had done the race at least 15-20 times! It was nice to be doing a race in a country where there was no language barrier because I could chat with everyone. It seems that runners, no matter where they are from, are just nice people. 
I made a friend on the bus. At the start with Anne.

The race was small, about 200 people with only about 40 starting at 6:30, so the start was a breeze. After Tokyo last year, and 2 other big city marathons before that, it was a nice change to have no bathroom lines and be able to stand right on the starting line. With a loud gunshot, we set off at exactly 6:30.  As the name of the race "Mountain to the Surf" implies, we started at the gates of Egmont National Park, 480 meters up Mt. Taranaki. Unfortunately I couldn't admire the views because it was pitch dark. 

I was so glad I had my headlamp because I was running alone down a very steep hill. Even with it, I could hardly see, which was probably a blessing in disguise, because it slowed me down so I didn't trash my quads too early in the race.

It was light when the runners started down the mountain

Because I started with the walkers, I pretty much ran alone the entire time. It is probably the only time I will ever lead a marathon for more than half the race! Especially in the dark, I was worried about getting lost because I hadn't studied the route very carefully. Luckily there were marshals at every turn. I also had plenty of cows, sheep, goats, and even some emus and alpacas along the way for company. 

The first 3k were a fairly steep downhill and I tried to hold myself back. Then from 3-9k there were some fairly steep rolling hills. After that, the course leveled off again with more long gradual inclines and descents. Unfortunately, right around mile 18 we started hitting the hills again.The course was all paved roads, but the pavement in NZ is a much coarser texture than in the US. By halfway my feet and ankles were getting really tired from the uneven terrain. About half the course was on nice quiet country roads and I enjoyed the views of green farmland with the mountains in the distance. Unfortunately, the other half was on busy roads with very little shoulder. It was pretty scary when giant trucks went flying by and sprayed me with pebbles.

The first 10k went by really slowly, but then I started to get into a groove. I took a gel at mile 6 and then either 2 GU chomps or 2 oatmeal raisin bites every 30 minutes. I also was forcing myself to drink a lot of Nuun since I wasn't heat acclimated. Somehow I managed to loose the cap to my water bottle around mile 9 and didn't notice until I felt water splashing all over my back. I couldn't find the lid, so I chugged what was left in my bottle and then went without fluids until the halfway point. I recognized the race director on the side of the road at halfway and asked if there was a water bottle anywhere I could have. He ran into a van to look and then gave me his own personal one. It was so nice and I thanked him about a million times. 

It started to get tough around mile 16. My legs were starting to feel the steep downhills from the start and the headwind was relentless. At some points I could barely move forward. Plus at this point, the fastest runners (who started an hour later) were passing me. They never gave any indication that they were coming up behind, and some passed on the left and some on the right, so it always startled me. The last 6 miles my legs were pretty done, but I also always knew I could finish. It wasn't like last year where I seriously considered quitting many times. Around 23 miles I realized I could set a PR if I really pushed it, but I decided that wasn't my goal for this race. I didn't want to be a total disaster after the race like last year and I didn't want to ruin the next week of my honeymoon by not being able to move!

The hardest part in the last few miles was trying to remember which side of the road to run on when I turned corners! My tired mind just couldn't figure it out! At last I was turning the corner into a lovely seaside park and heading towards the finish.

It was very windy and I was very angry at the wind after 26.1 miles in it
For the first time, Rory managed to see me finish. Yeah for small races!

My Garmin gave me a time of 4:22:40. (my chip time got messed up, so I am going with my Garmin).

Another benefit of a small race is that I had my medal, water, found Rory, and was in a ice pool all in less than 5 minutes. There is really nothing better at the end of a marathon than sitting in an ice pool and eating watermelon!

Less than 30 minutes after I finished, the skies opened up (it had been cloudy and sprinkling occasionally during the race) and the wind got even worse. I am so glad I started early! 

Also people, travel by campervan is the way to go for runners. At the finish I immediately had access to all my stuff, a shower and a bed! 

All in all, it was a great little race and the people couldn't have been nicer. I feel like I got an authentic New Zealand running experience. Continent #6 is done!


  1. Congrats! What a great time! And what a super interesting race! When did the sun finally come up?

    How cool that you were "leading" the race for so long! I am surprised the other runners didn't tell you they were passing. Or did you have your music up and couldn't hear them? I like to give people the benefit of the doubt but the truth is... many are just not considerate. Ha ha.

    That's awesome you had the opportunity to start early, and smart that you took it! :)

  2. Thanks! The sun didn't come up until almost 7:30. The sunrise and sunset were both much later the they are at home. Not one person said a word. I ended up turning off my music for a lot of the race because I couldn't hear it over the wind. I guess it just isn't part of their running culture, I found the same thing when I was running outside the race. People went right by without saying anything.


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