Chucka’s Run

A bath is just so therapeutic. A shower is good for day to day cleaning but sometimes a good soak in a hot bath just fits the bill.

Tonight I slowly eased my body into a bath filled with hot soapy water. It was a little hot. And I was a little sore. I soon acclimatised and could soak up to my neck. Bliss. I washed the dust out of my hair, and the salt off my face. I soaked my bloody, muddy, sweat stained legs and scrubbed my blackened toes until five little pink piggies shone back at me on each foot. It was just mud.

So now I smell a little sweeter but I still ache a little, all over. Battle scars worthy of a most awesome day out.

It began just before 8am as a group of runners assembled at Hansen’s Park. It was spitting lightly. I recognised some faces but not all. We boarded our bus and drove towards Little River. Conversation flowed. Friends were made.

By the time we disembarked at Hilltop the day held great promise. The rain had dried up, there was little wind. No plonkers shone out (last time I ran this it was in the company of a Class A Plonker known forever since as Richard Head, Dick for short.) everyone looked well equipped and ready to make the most of it. We farewell the bus and set off up to the Summit road before picking up the track and starting our ascent up through the bush.

Somehow we lost the track. I am not sure if Arthur Lydiard supported the idea of 45 minutes of vertical bush bashing as a warm up for his boys, but it worked for us. We reassembled above the bushline. A clearly defined track now before us. Away we went.

There was no breeze although a southerly was forecast about midday. Just still air, about 16 degrees. I felt perfectly attired in just running shorts, merino tee and socks, and a cap. Some of the other women were wearing tights and long sleeve tops and jackets.

Basically we just ran when we could and walked when it was too steep. We stopped often to regroup, to refuel and to just reaffirm how bloody lucky we are to have this on our back door.

We kept going up. We also got lost again. No cross words were spoken. Everyone was chatting away. Atmosphere was friendly and supportive.

The last grunt up to Mt Herbert. It is a grunt but a 360degree panorama of Banks Peninsula, across the Port Hills to the city beyond and the Alps on the horizon, down south across the patch-worked plains. Stunning. Truly truly stunning.

The group split into two here with the shorter option taking the descent straight down to Diamond harbour and the more intrepid long group going around the back of Orton Bradley, on a track even mountain goats sneer at, to the Packhorse hut. There might have been some one on one contact between butt and mud along here. There might also have been the odd occasion where the track turned left and I carried on straight until the track, or dotted line in the rocks petered out to nothing.

We got to Packhorse Hut. It was warm. It was still. The earlybirds enjoyed a long lie in the sun while the slow coaches caught up.

Final descent down to Gebbies Pass. There were two more nasty short uphills and a large cow blocking the track. Otherwise it was just good steady running. Once we were at Gebbies it is 2k down the hill and 2k along the flat straight and finally we stumbled into the pub. The short group were already there rehydrating and stabilising their electrolytes with pints of beer and plates of hot chips. Seemed a great idea and one worthy of copying, except I drank cider. I also slept in the bus back to Hansen’s Park.

Great run. Great opportunity. Great scenery. Great people.

And a good back to back run on yesterday’s race weary legs.

PS Chucka admitted in the pub that going up Mt Herbert he lived up to his name. Moral of the story – clean your drink bladder more vigilantly.

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