The first time I ever entered a running event was two years ago, almost to the day. S. and I decided it was time to go from our little mid-week runs into more of a challenge and we signed up for the 12k version of the Wharf to Wharf version on Waiheke Island (and not just because we wanted an excuse to go to Waiheke Island). At the time, none of us had even run that far. It seemed like a big challenge, which really makes me think about how far we’ve come. We’ve entered dozens of events since then but Wharf to Wharf is the one that got me hooked onto crossing finish lines and so it has a special place in my heart (all together now: awwwww!).
Last year, a 24h flight delay in Las Vegas forced to to pull out of the event. I was at the airport in Vegas when S. texted me from the start line saying they were calling my name because I had signed up but failed to pick up my race pack and, even though I was in Vegas, my heart sank a little bit. I wanted to go back and run each one of those twelve kilometers again. And so today I did.
My memory of the course was, hmm, kind of a little bit distorted. I remembered that there were “a couple of hills”. My brain failed to remind that the whole course is in fact up and down a bunch of hills, with almost no flat areas. But it is beautiful. As in jaw-dropping breathtakingly go-tell-your-mother-she-needs-to-come-see-this kind of beautiful. So beautiful you don’t even care about the hills (much). It starts on the beach (like every run should start) and it ends on another beach (like every run should end). In the middle, just a whole lot of prettiness to distract you from the hills and the pain and the fact that you got up at 5:30AM on a Sunday and not many people would agree with you that that was a good idea.
I ended up bumping into people I knew and running it with more running buddies than I was expecting and even had the visit at the start line from a couple of friends who were staying on the island for the weekend. The social side of this event really is one of its strongest points (it’s a fairly small low-key event as far as races go but it brings together a really nice bunch of people, including adorable looking volunteers handing you water while wearing costumes).
But anyway. Holy ball of fire in the sky, it was hot. And muggy. Really stinking muggy. I supposed that’s as far as I’ll go talking about the weather. I’d complain about it if it had been too cold so I think I’ll just shut up now. It could actually have been much worse. The sun really only decided to come out to play once we crossed the finish line so hats off to whoever controls that stuff up there. Top work.
The other good news is that, unlike two years ago, I managed not to smash my iPod onto the ground right at the start line in Onetangi wharf (an iPod that was only 17 days old at the time and that lasted another year and a lot of running events but never got a new screen). The bad news is that the exercise-induced asthma symptoms I experienced earlier this year made a comeback. Assholes (yes, I’m attributing an adjective that somehow personifies a health symptom. It’s poetic. Just go with it). It awarded me some strange looks and “are you ok?” questions from passing runners and forced me to walk for a few hundred meters to start breathing normally again and convincing myself that no, I was absolutely not dying halfway up that hill. It also led me to make a mental note to add an inhaler to the list of things I’ll be carrying with me during the marathon.
Once I was over that little hiccup, the rest of the run was amazing. We crossed the finish line and headed straight to the water. Being able to do this is, in itself, a major reason to enter this event. More than that, I now consider the ability to go for a dip in the sea the new standard measurement by which all finish lines should be rated.
See you next year, Waiheke. Stay pretty.