You can squint all you want, but you’ll never find us in this photo–I just took it off the Buller Gorge marathon website because that’s what the race was like–well over a thousand runners filling up half the road in the scenic Buller Gorge, Westport, New Zealand. We had driven this way just after Christmas during torrential rain, but this weekend’s weather cooperated perfectly. And no, we didn’t actually run a marathon, we ran the half.
The half marathon started just downstream of this tunnel bit–the marathon runners got to go through it. Buller Gorge River looked sparkly and tame when we were there, but we’ve seen it muddy, fast and treacherous too.
I pushed Milo for the race, and here we are just coming into Westport, almost finished. There were so many people at the start that it took us 2 minutes just to cross the starting line, but after a few miles it thinned out. Being the only Mama pushing a pram in this race, we got lots of comments, all in good humor. “What does a ride cost?” “Can I trade places with the baby?” I told them they could ride with me on the down hills, but they’d have to push on the ups! For whatever silly reason, I found it particularly fun to pass guys. “You know it’s bad when you’re passed by a baby!” they’d say. Though truth be told, at 1 hour 50 minutes, we didn’t pass any of the fast runners, either men or women. Still we had fun!
Jeremiah beat his previous personal record on this run, coming in about 1 hour 28 minutes. Molly didn’t beat any records, but felt good nevertheless.
This guy has a hard-core beard! One of the most enjoyable parts of running with a big group of people is admiring all the shapes and sizes. And if you ever thought you couldn’t run a half marathon, all you need for inspiration is a glimpse of the people that do. Anyone can make it. Folks with sinewy legs in their 70s, women with jiggly tushes flopping around inside spandex tights, middle-aged guys with pot bellies….and fit old men with bushy beards!
There was a kid’s run in the afternoon around a couple blocks in town and through the finishing shoot. Milo had a blast watching them come in (“More, more!” he kept asking), and I have to admit, the varied running styles and stamina strategies were more interesting to watch than the adults.
We camped for the weekend at one of those drive-up campgrounds with kitchens, showers, and playgrounds. Milo was thrilled to sleep in a tent….or at least to play in a tent. He had the usual tough time settling down to sleep the first night, so the second I tucked him into his car seat, turned on the new Raffi CD from Omi and Abi, and lost myself in a novel. Just the car seat restraint let him relax and fall asleep, no fuss no muss, and no frayed tempers. Brilliant.
Milo was nervous about the waves when walking on his own, but when on Mama’s back he thought it was a good joke if we had to hustle back from the encroaching water.
The camp ground was right across from the beach, though you wouldn’t catch me in that cold water. We enjoyed an evening beach walk and Milo bid the sun goodnight.
The park where the race ended had a nice kid playground….built for giants, but Milo wasn’t a bit nervous climbing that tall ladder.
A half marathon only takes the morning, so in the afternoon we went walking at Cape Foulwind. Unfortunate name, Captain Cook probably had some misadventure there. Though it was a strong spunky wind that snatched at our hats, it wasn’t stinky the day we visited.
The ever-present sheep made their appearance once again, much to Milo’s delight. They even left poop on the path, just for his amusement.
In case you need directions…..we’re a long way from home.
We stopped at Reefton on the way back to break up the 4.5 hour ride, taking a walk though this friendly beech forest. Starting out on the old mining road it felt like a logging road at home, ferns fluttering on the shady bank, a creek burbling down below, and even a few big-leafed maple-like trees at the side.