Race Report: Hi-Tec Rotorua Ekiden 2013

Ekiden 2013 Shirt and Medal | On a Jam Hunt Blog

There is a lot of pressure writing up this Race Report as there are 12 people involved and a lot of them had their own perspectives on their own legs of the race, I will try my best to capture the spirit of what the entire race meant to me, and how it was one that I will definitely remember for the rest of my life!

MFP Buddies Ekiden | On a Jam Hunt Blog

The scene is set about 45 mins from where I live, so not too far away – Rotorua Lake is where we ran/walked the distance of a full marathon as part of two 6-person team’s in relay.

My friend Amy and I traveled down on Friday night early enough to have dinner with a bunch of semi-strangers who will form 2 teams of Ekiden Zombies!  Dead Sexxy Zombies.
The 12 of us were all from different parts of New Zealand’s North Island, we had made a huge effort to be apart of this unique gathering of strangers!

We arrived just before 7 pm and were greeted at the Holiday Home by 6 of the coolest people I will have ever met.  Namely – Glenn, Becks, Shannon, Virginia, Claudia and Karina.  A few others who would join our party would rock up to the house a few hours later – My cousin Pamela, Elaine, Janey and Becca.

Some dinner, a good chat and debrief, and I was pretty certain that these people were exactly how they had represented themselves on the Facebook NZ MFP Buddies group site.  They are all very Genuine people, and totally a Hoot.  Each with their crazy unique and distinct personalities.

The next day would start at 5 am.
The 6 Walking participants would need to get ready for their date with a make-up artist to apply some zombie-licious faces, arriving at 5.45 am and then us 6 runners at 6.45 am, and all done in time for the Walkers start at 8 am and Runners at 9 am.

Our Dead Sexxy Walkers

Dead Sexxy Runners

I ate my usual Oats and Chia Seed with Yogurt and a banana, today’s distance didn’t call for anything extra, just a bit more water than usual.

Legs that make up the race were the same for both Running and Walking teams, all checkpoints were the same for both as well.

We all headed down to see the Walkers head of, the weather wasn’t great but the atmosphere was, no bit of rain or hail was going to stop the participants today!

As the 3, 2, 1 was said there was that huge rush of adrenaline go through my body and went out in sympathy for our first Walker Becca – she had 8.8 km ahead of her and she went out steady and consistent.  There were plenty of elite walkers among the crowd and you could tell who were in it for fun and who were there for competition. Either way we were there to finish!
The Walkers journey had started and so off they went in their support vehicles to toot on their first walker.

We had an hour to kill before start time.  Much to the Walking groups disgust, we headed for coffee and a relax at a local popular Cafe – The Fat Dog Cafe and Bar.

We then headed to the Start point, which would double as the Finish as well – Rotorua’s Village Green which can be found right on the edge of the town center bordering the same lake that we will have circumnavigated around that day.  
Because it was pouring down with almost torrential rain we didn’t see our first Runner Glenn off, we headed for our support car to collect all remaining team members and head to the first checkpoint.  

Our Idyllic Race location – Start and Finish


We had no idea of where it would be, none of us had actually done the event before.  I thumbed into Glenns TomTom the rough address of where the First Checkpoint would be and off we went.  

Unfortunately for the first Runners/Walkers the weather worsened to hail before it actually got any better.  Again, they were finishing it anyway!

Leg 1 – 8.86km  

Runners (Glenn) – 0.46:18  @ 05:13 pace
Walkers (Becca) – 1:34:42

We parked up and piled out of the car.  The rain had died a little and we met the other Walkers at the checkpoint.  There were Porta-Potty’s… I needed to go.  I gotta be honest – I went number two’s… I secretly fist pumped just like Shannon had earlier in the morning ha!  It is sweet relief for distance runners to get it out of the way, it was all down hill from here!

Leg one of the race was mostly making its way out through the city.  It ran along the main road into Rotorua – Fairy Springs and along into Ngongotaha.

There was some confusion on how the timing mats worked, instructions were not clear on the handbook given out the week before, but from observation we figured it out.  I would have to say the Marshall on this Checkpoint did not do the best job at instructing the runners.

Glenn wore a full non-tech shirt for his costume, he is lucky the leg was no longer than the 9k he completed, I was thinking a lot during his leg that there could be chaffing issues… we would find out that on his long run the next morning, there was some definite chaffed action!

Karina would take hold of the sash next for the running team.  Elaine for the Walkers.  We were in full swing!

Karina Starting Strong

Karina Starting Strong

Leg 2 – 7.18 km  

Runners (Karina) 0.54:53  @ 7:38 pace
Walkers – (Elaine) 1.37:32

This leg of the race headed us out of the city and into the surrounding rural areas.  We stopped a couple of times to toot Karina on, she was amazing!  She did not stop!

Karina is not long out of completing her first Half Marathon in Taupo.  She has been an inspiration to me just as much as Glenn has.  She is very hard on herself and the timing she made for her Half, but in my eyes she has mucho balls!  More than me anyway… I have some catching up to do!

We would meet Karina in Hamurana where I would take over for her.  The Walkers would not reach this checkpoint for a long while, where Claudia would take over for Elaine.

Leg two of the race had small gradual hills, and long stretches of straights along one of Rotorua’s main roads.  As it crawls into Hamurana there is a more country bush feel.  On the inside I wished there was a few trail like patches, but nope, it was all road for the day.

I tried to pee at this Checkpoint, I had a nervous bladder, but the potty line was so long I had to hold it for another two legs of the race.

I headed back to the Support car to get my iPhone and tee up my podcast listening for the next 7.9 km.  I wasn’t planning on running my Nike App, but did so anyway.  I was running in a place I had never run before, and kind of wanted a rough idea of the distance I was covering as I went.

I got the heads up that Karina was on her way.  I got my gear together, threw my Jersey at Glenn and lined up to walk over the timing mat as I was passed the Sash by Karina.  She was excited to see me, she had done so well!

At about the halfway mark for the Walkers Elaine would get some support from Pamela who would walk with her the remaining distance of this leg.

Leg 3 – 7.98km  

Runners (Me/Janine) 0.56:02 @ 7.01 pace
Walkers (Claudia) 1.02:08

This leg of the race was by far the most beautiful.  And I am not just saying it because I was running it.  It was tree lined and so close to the lakes edge.  If I were to race this relay again (which I am undeniably certain that I will)  I would choose this leg again, purely for the location.
I would encounter one big’ish hill and two slightly smaller hills.  I met a support car of guys at the top of the first hill and asked if it was the last of the hills, they said yes… they lied!  They got my hopes up and as I encountered the second hill they drove past tooting out…  I yelled out that they lied!  I didn’t overly care though, I was enjoying the run!
The hills were semi-steep, but as I usually do, all I could hear in my head all alone out there was Glenn telling me to “Use those glutes”  Which I did, small strides and all butt and calves, I quick-walked the 3 hills and boosted quickly down the down-hills.  It felt amazing to be out running a longer distance again.

My last hill would cruise down and round 3 bends, after the last bend and straight would appear the changeover point, I saw my people cheering and holla’ing, it was exciting!

Shannon would take over for me, we were at over halfway.  Shannon is in training for the Auckland Half Marathon, she is a great and inspirational runner, secretly I think we are soul sisters!

Claudia our Walker did us proud getting herself to this checkpoint in a great time that would help to catch the Walkers up a bit more.

Leg 4 – 8.3 km  

Runners (Shannon) 0.54:21 @ 6.32 pace
Walkers (Becks) 1.19:51

Shannon and Becks encountered one long ass gradual hill and a few small windee’s.  We had stopped a few times along this leg to cheer Shannon on… except we were either so intensely involved in conversation or checking our phones that we missed her twice before realising she had run past.  She was kind of pissed we hadn’t tooted out, ha!  We sucked at being support people at this point, poor Shannon.  She was boosting it down very quickly, it was no wonder we kept missing her.  The last few bends were followed by a frustratingly long straight with the weigh-station checkpoint in sight.  Having to run this long straight with the end in view felt like they had such a long way to go before meeting up with it.
Becks is the Miranda (inside joke) that organised our rowdy bunch, she did an awesome 4th leg with that gruesome prosthetic on her face!

Here Shannon would meet up with our floaty Zombie Ballerina Janey.

Becks being Photo Bombed by Pam

Leg 5 – 4.74 km

Runners (Janey) 0.27:16 @ 5.45 pace
Walkers (Amy) 0.36:45

This leg of the race moved us closer to town.  Janey ran us through some of the industrial area and had a boring view of the airport.  But she was not boring to watch.  I sat in the car perving at her buff quad muscles, I accidentally said it out loud that I was doing so ha!  It looked as if Janey was floating along the pavement in her brightly made up outfit complete with matching pink tints in her hair and fluffy tutu.  Our Zombie Ballerina!

Amy would cover this stretch of the race.  If you have ever met Amy, you would know that she is full of energy!  You have probably heard of her in earlier posts, she is my regular running buddy.  She really used her glutes with this one, I could tell because she was going on about how sore her butt was for the remainder of the time we were there.  Amy would walk the rest of the race till the end with our last Walker Pamela.

Leg 6 – 5.72 km  

Runners (Virginia) 0.43:21 @ 7.34 pace
Walkers (Pamela) 0.48:00

The last and final leg was along another main road that filters into the city center and continues to the Start line which would double as the Finish.

We waited at the last Marshall’s point for our last runner Virginia.  For someone who had done little to no outdoor running ‘V’ did an awesome job of staying positive and getting it done!

It was here that we met up with the Wallys (‘Where’s Wally’ costumed group).  We had been following these Wally’s all the way round the Lake.  We got to some small talk while waiting for V.  The Wally’s had asked how our team had all met, Glenn casually said “through an online dating site” all 5 of us girls and 1 guy.  The Wally’s were startled a bit, and it took them a while to register that Glenn was joking.  This would now become the kicker for how we all met – The NZ MFP buddies Facebook (online dating) site. ha!

As V entered the home stretch, we cheered her on which seemed to fuel her last efforts on meeting the finish line!  She rocked out the last hundred meters and we had joined her for this ride.  We all finished triumphantly, and excited that we had achieved a collective Marathon!

We would cruise on back to the Fat Dog for more coffee and a communal plate of wedges.  The Walkers were livid when they found out about our second visit.  My excuse was that we had to keep warm and hydrated!

Amy and Pamela finished the last leg together.
Our group doesn’t know too much about my cousin Pamela, she has an inspirational story in her own right, she didn’t share it with us, but I have to make sure I mention some of it here.  Once upon a time Pamela was in a similar situation as the rest our team once had been/still is.  She was overweight and unhappy.  She had overcome this and many other life/health battles and is determined to make a happy life for herself.  I am glad to have asked her to come join us, we loved having her there!

The Walkers all joined up to walk their last meters to Finish as a Team, even though it was a long day they also finished on a high note.

Group walkers ekiden

The Walkers made it just in time for Prize-giving start at 3pm.  Pamela even won a spot prize valued at over $400!!!

It was an exhausting, fun-filled roller-coaster ride of a day and we were on our way home to celebrate with a few Vino’s/Brews, the best way to wind down after going to War.

There was so much more to this Event than what I have mentioned.  The people I have met, the time that we had, this is merely a snapshot of what I have experienced.

What have I learned from this weekend?
Distance Running doesn’t have to be a solo sport.  While you spend so much time in your own head, an event like this makes you feel like you are apart of something bigger than yourself.  All competitors competing and striving for the same goal, each pushing to do well in their own right, but more importantly wanting to do well for their team.  It is about sharing the spotlight with people with similar personal goals and celebrating the pain and pressure of the run.   Its a way of not taking yourself and the sport so seriously, its a break from being hard on yourself and the arduous line up’s of the strict training plans.
I went into this thing not knowing what to expect and came out of it more enriched and empowered to continue to do the best I can with my own Run.

Thanks for reading, I know it is a long one, and even now I don’t think I have done it justice!

Viva la Marathon!

Jay 🙂

P.S. Do you remember me being worried about fitting into my Size 12 Race shirt that I had ordered as motivation to lose a few more kilos, well guess what…  Nailed it!!!

Ekiden Shirt | On a Jam Hunt Blog

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13 comments

  1. Good evening Jam Hunt, FANTASTIC effort to all of you whom walk and run. Sounded like a lot of fun had by all…way to go beasts, I enjoyed the report and pics. Proud of all and ki ora Pamela always good to see whanau taking part…enjoy and beast on…Dad

    On 14/10/2013 14:45,

  2. Great post! Glad I provided the inspiration for the music. And a great weekend was had by all – I’m not used to participating in a (accepting) team like this as I am usually the last one to be picked in a playground pick.

    Cheers Elaine

    1. I know! I was so nervous about it. I wasn’t going to try it till I got home but someone mention it and then the whole group moved their attention to me and my shirt. Cool thing was that I had two layers underneath too!!! Thanks for reading 🙂

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