Big Easy Mountain Marathon (42km)

  • Distance: 42km
  • Time: 4 hours 25 mins
  • Place: 4th female

The Big Easy Mountain Marathon is a 42km mountain marathon from Snow Farm lodge in Wanaka down to the small town of Luggate (10 minutes from Wanaka).

This run was my last big effort in preparation for Tarawera in three weeks when I attempt my first 100km race, so the idea was to race it comfortably,  to bounce back fast enough to keep training and through the taper period over the next few weeks.

Racing in the heat

The biggest concern for this race was the heat, being the middle of the summer and with temperatures around 29 degrees forecast.

Merryn (coach from Peak Endurance) and I came up with different strategies to help keep me cool during the race, these included:

  • Wetting clothing along the way from streams and aid stations
  • Wearing a wet bandana/buff around my neck
  • White arm sleeves to keep my arms cool
  • Exposing my stomach to cool down my core
  • Freezing my hydration bladder
All the gear

What gear to take?

There’s a lot of gear considerations for races that are in the mountains, you don’t want to carry too much gear, but it’s also nice to have a few supplies to make the experience more enjoyable (I think so anyway). I enjoy planning out and creating a strategy for the best way to execute a race. At registration, they told us we didn’t have to take all the compulsory, thermals etc as it was so hot, so that was a good start!

Some of the gear I took, excluding the standard clothes and shoes I was wearing included; 

The Race

The race started at 1pm and the first part was a 10km loop that went right back to the start. It’s VERY easy to get caught up in a faster pace at the start of these races so I made a conscious effort to slow down and keep the pace very easy, the goal was to complete the 10km loop and arrive back at where we’d started feeling like I hadn’t done anything and with no fatigue in my legs.

Starting Easy

It’s tough to let people pass you and keep it slow, but having done a few of these races now, I know how much faster I am if I keep the first half at a comfortable place. So I suffered through letting people pass me, which if you’re a competitive person is hard to do!

I completed the 10km loop feeling good, topped up my soft flasks at the drink stations along the way and continued on my way.

The next section included the majority of the climbing of the course, there was only about 800-900m of climbing for the whole course, so not as much as some mountain marathons. I kept this section easy as well and continued at a steady pace, trying to keep the fatigue in my legs down for as long as possible.

Staying Cool

This part of the course was when I started to get into the cooling ideas mentioned above, I may have taken it a little too far as I was dripping wet most of the way (haha), but it was so fun splashing around in the streams. 

Staying cool after splashing in the streams

Marvin The Magic Sponge

I took a little sponge with me which I nicknamed Marvin (The Magic Sponge) got to find something to keep yourself entertained on these long runs and he was a life-saver! Every little stream or mud puddle I used him to put water on my arm sleeves and around my neck or wet my face and it made me feel better. It was a very good strategy for staying cool as well as highly entertaining and fun for me. I wasn’t hot at all the entire race.

I started to catch up to a few people around 20km, which was a satisfying result having started so slow, just before halfway I noticed Marvin (the sponge lol) was missing, and I was devastated he had bounced out of one of my pack pockets. The saddest moment of the whole race.

At the top of the climb were Terry’s (race organiser) mum and dad, offering a friendly face and a smorgasbord of food – well runner food – bananas, coke and chips!

Marvin Comes Back

Just as I was about to leave the aid station, one of the other runners arrived and she had MARVIN! She returned my little sponge, much to my delight and everything was good again.

The sponge things sounds a bit silly and I would of coped without my little sponge in this race, but small things like this can make a differnce to your mental game in longer races, it was giving me something to look foward to, making it fun and helping to keep me cool which was important for my overall performance.

From this point, the downhill started, which always sounds appealing but it’s hard to run well downhill, especially with some fatigue in your legs. My legs were ok at this point so I picked up the pace a bit, depending on how rocky it was.

The remainder of the race went pretty smoothly, I could see a girl about 800m in front of me, and I spent a long time trying to catch up to her without overdoing it, it took me about an hour and a half to get to her.

Unfortunate Chaffing

Once I finally got to her I felt my legs chaffing as my shorts were so wet from all my stream splashing, I looked down and I actually had blood running down both my legs! How I hadn’t noticed this earlier i’m not sure. I stopped briefly and put some anti chafe on them, which helped soothe it but didn’t really make it look much better.  There wasn’t much more I could do so just kept going.  Making a mental note to maybe not get so wet next time!

Final Push

Just as I made it to the girl i’d been hunting down, another girl unexpectedly flew past both of us! I tried to keep up with this new girl on the scene, but she was too fast for me on the downhill, downhill running isn’t really my strongest point and is something for me to work on.

There was about 7km’s left now and the legs were starting to feel pretty heavy.  I thought this girl had me, so I just kept chipping away, when we got to the last 2km which were flat. I noticed she was having brief moments of walking so I knew she was struggling, this gave me some incentive to fight and I managed to pass her in the last kilometre. It was a fun challenge to finish on, having something to fight for always makes you dig a little deeper than you thought you could.

You can view all the results here

A Good Day Out

A race in the mountains is always an adventure, always something new to learn and take on board. I haven’t done a race like that in a while so it’s nice to be feeling stronger and fitter than I have previously.

Shout out to Terry Davis and his support crew for organising such a fun event, as well as my friends who also smashed goals in the marathon and the 100km race, and of course my wonderful coach and sponsors for their support of my journey.

Tarawera Ultra Marathon is next!




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