To prepare for my Waiheke Island half-marathon in May, I signed up for a few races before, including this one at Mount Maunganui. New Zealand’s second race after the half of Wellington.
Mount Maunganui is a peninsula east of Tauranga overlooked by an ancient 232m volcano. It is a pretty “surfer” seaside place.
Leaving Auckland on a Friday after work I preferred to make a first stop at Tauranga. Indeed, my Intercity bus initially had a scheduled arrival at 9:15 p.m. And with the trafic I arrived 1 hour later! Even if the backpacks are generally quite flexible on the arrival time I did not want to add the 15-20 min that separate Tauranga and Mount Maunganui. I therefore reserved a room at ArtHouse backpackers. Good location, close to the center and the bus stop but I do not recommend it if you want to spend a quiet night! Indeed it is at the edge of the busiest road which makes the room very noisy, even late.
The next morning after having my breakfast at Starbuck I took the local bus towards Mount Manganui. Two bus lines make the connection, a direct (bus 1) and one with a small detour (bus 2). Please note on weekends there is only one bus per hour on both lines. And the schedules of the two buses are only a few minutes apart, New Zealand logic! This means that there is no bus for 45-50 minutes! The trip costs $ 3.40 to pay on the bus and is taken around the corner from the i-site (perpendicular to the Intercity / Naked bus stop).
Saturday was not in the sun this weekend (but no rain). In mid-March it starts to be too cool to swim but the beach is really very nice! You can however surf there all year round! I had taken a room at Mount backpackers located at the beginning of the main street. The atmosphere is nice and there is a cat :). I found myself with South Africans all happy to be able to drink in the common areas. As I felt it badly announced the end of the evening ;). In Europe I have never traveled in backpackers but in fact I like it! New encounters and new anecdotes with each stay make the charm of these inexpensive accommodations. There are like many places in New Zealand a lot of street art at every street corner and in almost all the small perpendicular streets.
The 14km of We Run The Night
In addition to my desire to discover this small town, I really wanted to test a night race, it was my first! I was not sure how to eat so I had a normal meal at noon and drank a sweet drink 2-3 hours before the race (Hopt drink partner of the race, it’s very good!).
The start was given at 7:30 p.m. The problem is that here you can register as a walker and everyone leaves at the same time … So I could not really find my pace until after 500m because there were far too many walkers to pass and little space. I find it a shame to go in front of the runners and interfere but it seems to be commonplace in New Zealand. In addition, no one pushed during the race to let the leader and the first pass. It’s really not the sporty atmosphere that I like!
I finished in 1h33’32 “I accelerated on the last km but I felt that I could run several more km at this rate. So it looks very good for the half of May!
By cons I think that I am not very fan of the evening races … Although having rested in the afternoon I did not feel very fresh during the race. But the worst was after! I managed to fall asleep only around 3-4am with all the adrenaline I had in me!
As there were no goodies for the runners the organization offered the official photos.
The Mount (Mauao)
Initially I wanted to go up for the sunrise. But with my sleep problems I gave up … So I went there in the early morning (with all my things on my back …). The mount rises to 232m which is not very hard but still takes an hour (we climb bypassing, not directly towards the pass). And as we are in New Zealand we share part of the way with sheep ;).
Once at the top the view is magnificent !! On the other hand there is a little wind ahah!
A short video of the great view :
Next destination, the Cook Islands, I can’t wait!!