After the Queenstown marathon last November 2020, my partner was looking for another marathon that I could aim at doing. At that point, I was still in the throes of depression that I was not thinking of doing anything, let alone another marathon. Nevertheless, she found the Big Easy Mountain Run, a 42.2km run that starts from Snow Farm and finishes at Luggate. I have to say, I did get quite intrigued by the prospect of exploring this area as I have never heard of Snow Farm nor Luggate. Despite, not being very sure about completing another marathon at just only 8 weeks after the Queenstown marathon, I decided to just do it.
As expected, I pretty much regretted making this decision the very next day! Spoiler alert: I enjoyed every minute of the run and I am still feeling the euphoria three days since completing it!
My training for this marathon only consisted of running daily at short distances of 6-8km and a 10km run on a Saturday or Sunday. But, I made sure I was out with my running shoes daily and hitting the kilometres as planned. I did not feel that I had the motivation to run anymore than those distances. I knew that this would not be enough to train for a mountain marathon, but, it was all I could make myself do in terms of preparing for it. I did make sure that my runs pass through routes that I needed to do climbs up and down hills, which was not difficult to find in Dunedin.
The marathon website stated that there is a 9km uphill run, before 12km of undulating terrain and the final 21km would be a downhill run all the way to the finish line. With this information at hand, I thought to myself, “Well, I guess half of the run would be downhill, depending on how tired I am then, would determine how my legs would feel running downhill at that distance”. I knew that running downhill can be tougher than running uphill because you are basically abusing your quad muscles as you control your balance on the descend. However, I was pretty comfortable that it might not be that bad. Am I in for a surprise!
The first 9km uphill was, in the scheme of things, the easiest bit of the whole marathon. By the 13km, I was struggling to keep my pace while running uphill as I tackled the undulating terrain that I needed to cover before reaching the 21km point. It did not take me long to start walking uphills and only running when I am going downhill. Reaching the 21km mark, I thought I would have some relief from pushing myself uphills as I started running downhill. I sighed a breath of relief as I raced down until I saw from a distance that an uphill stretch came to view. My heart dropped, but I still had hope that it would just be that one odd uphill stretch and then it would be downhill till the finish line. It was not to be. I was greeted by undulating terrain for what it felt like an eternity. I felt exhausted at this point and wondered to myself if this is THE marathon that I would have to call it quits before the finish line. Somehow, that thought came and went as quickly as that thought ended. I told myself that I will finish this even if I have to walk all the way to the finish line.
I took me 6 hours and 59 mins to finally cross the finish line. I did not walk all the way to the finish line. I continued running downhill and walking uphill as I passed each kilometre. Crossing the finish line always puts a smile on my face, no matter how much my legs were screaming to stop the abuse. As I write this, I still feel the sense of achievement that is hard to describe in words. All I can say is that it is an intoxicating feeling that you will feel for the next couple of weeks.
I have taken advantaged of this feeling and signed up for my next off-road marathon. I heard about the Motatapu Marathon from another runner at the post-race meal. He wanted to know if I have heard of it, which I answered that I have not. I have no felt so excited about something for almost a year now because of my depression, and I am thrilled to say that I am excited about Motatapu. I have 6 weeks to continue my training and I am sure I will enjoy Motatapu as much as I enjoyed the Big Easy Mountain Run, despite the torture and pain of running a marathon. This is good. Feeling excited is good for me. Feeling excited means I am on my way to my long and slow journey of recovery.
photo courtesy from the Big Easy Mountain Marathon website: https://theultraeasy100.nz/race-distances/marathon/