Parting Shot: Paying for the privilege of pain


Once a year the stunning Motatapu, Soho and Glencoe stations in the high country between Wanaka and Queenstown open up to public access.

The Motatapu has become a bucket list off-road event, with thousands taking on the 15km Miners Trail, 42km off-road marathon, 47km mountain bike, 51km ultra run or 64km triathlon.

But, as I found out, along with dollars you also pay for the privilege of access with pain. What was I thinking?

Four months out

Should really get fit and lose some weight, nearly 40, am I really 83kg? Need a challenge, first marathon? Is that mid-life crisis territory? Probably not. People run don’t they? Evolved to run, persistence hunting and all that. Motatapu. 42km. Proper achievement. Off-road though, hills. Elevation map, hmm, hilly,
1022m of climbing. Is that a lot? “You will go through numerous river crossings, climb some hills,
overcome your own personal challenges.” Only ‘some’ hills. OK, credit card details, click, done.

Three months out

Should probably be running more. Google marathon training. Your 12-week training guide. Perfect. I’ll print that out and stick it on the back of the cupboard door (and never look at it again).

Two months out

This is good. Get out of the house. Half-marathon distance time coming down. Should probably climb some hills. Run some hills. Distance tracker on iPod is out of whack. Half-marathon, 23km. I was weaving around people. Should calibrate it. But then all those lovely distances uploaded to Nike+
could be crap. It’s probably because I was weaving. I’ll just stop thinking about it.

One month out

OK, so no hills. But 30km, 30km probably, Jade [wife] had to pick me up, cramp, had to bring the toddler out at 8pm, but still 30km-ish. Month to go. Must climb a hill. Queenstown Hill. I could do it, like, three times a week. Run up it. Nope, OK, tough. I’ll walk and run, mostly walk. But this is steep, Queenstown Hill is properly steep. Motatapu surely won’t be this steep. 

One week out

Forty kilometres, yeah, pretty good. The iPod says 40km, so, you know. Only once up Queenstown Hill but the Frankton track has ‘some’ hills. Fernhill is a hill. It says ‘hill’. I’ll be fine. Taper.

Morning of

Jesus, these guys behind me on the bus can talk. Non-stop for an hour. Hard, you say. Hmm. Steep hills, you say. Oh. “It’s like childbirth, you forget the pain afterwards.” Hmm. “Knock the bastard off.” OK.

10km in

Oh my God. That’s not even a quarter. This is going to take forever. ‘Some hills’, ‘some hills’. Still feel OK but, shit, needed to train more. More hills.

20km in

Jesus Christ. F**k me. I’m not even halfway yet. I might have to stop and get a lift on one of those quad bike thingies. Shit, that would be embarrassing. Can’t do that. All I want to do is finish, so I can just walk. Everyone’s walking up the hills, I’ll just walk on the flat bits too. Must keep running. I’ll run to that tree, then walk.

25km in

No way is this just 1022m of climbing. My lower back’s killing me. Walk for a bit. Paracetamol. I have paracetamol. Wait. Is it safe to take while running? Blood-thinning or something? Should have checked this. Or is that aspirin? Does paracetamol have aspirin in it? Sod it, I’ll just take it.


Pain. Pain. Pain. What do fit people think about when they run? ‘Ooh this is nice, look at the beautiful scenery, nature is so amazing, I feel so strong, I might speed up for a bit…’ Bastards.


Highest point. Yeehaw. All downhill from here.


Countryside. I’m running through beautiful countryside. 


More hills. And big unavoidable puddles and streams. Wet feet. Heavy feet. But I’m probably going to do this now, aren’t I? Jesus the London Marathon must be easy. All that nice flat tarmac. How are all these men and women in their late-50s still passing me? What’s the go with that? How can they be so fit? I will never be age-ist again. 


I’m actually going to do this. River crossings. Actually quite nice. Cooling. Yes my legs feel like brittle sticks but it’s only 2km.


Done. Never doing that again. Why do people do that? I’m going to drink this beer and never contemplate doing anything like that again. 5hr 16mins. Hmm. Could have done better. I’m 147th out of about 450 runners. Not bad. Could do better. Next year? It wasn’t that painful. Enjoyable in parts. The iPod says
I ran 47km. What’s coming up? Wanaka half next month – that’s all downhill!