At 2:00 am, on 20th Feb 2016, a team of 15 SilverStripers embarked on a journey that they had never been on before. A journey from darkness to light. What happened?
A few months before...
As a way of building team spirit, we decided to enter a relay around Lake Taupo. What it meant was that we would have to run/walk a total of 155km in 18 stages, hills and all; we would have to wake up in the middle of the night to start; and there was a time limit: 16 hours.
So the training, physically and mentally, began…
We set up a running schedule for the team—3 times a week: 1 short, 1 medium and 1 long weekend run, and tried to incorporate some hill running when possible. Most of the runs were in sync with our running club’s schedule, which saw newbies growing into runners, and runners into hardcores.
A few weeks before...
Turning up for the run was just part of the challenge. There was a huge amount of planning to take care of, involving accommodation for the weekend, food, how to get each group of runners around the course, getting to Taupo and back, allocating people to each stage and, of course, the celebratory drinks.
With a number of people getting involved in our lunchtime running club, a few avid runners and gym bunnies, our estimates still looked about 15 min too slow for the time limit. People were worried... We changed from the composite (run and walk) to the running only relay as some people dropped out and others started thinking they couldn’t match the pace.
On the day
We started at 2:00 am with our first 4 sleep-deprived runners (Ingo, Vinh, Juliet and PK) taking on a huge 47km in the dark, with their flashlights and fluorescent bibs ensuring they were safe on the roads around the lake.
At 4:30 am, the second group (Paul, Nicole, Laura and me) was notified the times we’d estimated were being blitzed by our thoroughbred racers. We had to act quickly (and smartly) to get in the car and around to the starting points in time to meet the others as they finished their stages. A few wrong turns and winding uncertainly through the countryside to find our starting point but we got there—only just in time to prevent the first group having to continue running for the second one.
The challenges and the result
We rolled through the hills and despite some trepidations, we continually managed to beat our estimated times throughout the next stages.
Big shout-out to our powerhouses on the hills: Paul pounded out 10km despite a seemingly never-ending sequence of hills; Luke ran more than half of his 6.5km running up one steep hill; and Vinh took on the most difficult hill like he was relaxing on a Sunday afternoon. Matt, Jake and Annette handled the midday sun like it was a breeze.
The final leg was run by our injured powerhouse Simon. Fighting through the pain barrier from a broken collarbone a few months before, to bring the team home in 13 hours 57 minutes. A huge effort from the team, and one that only provided huge motivation for everyone to do it again even faster :)
The night was followed by an evening BBQ, some drinks and hanging out together, reflecting on a fun and rewarding experience.
A great weekend all round and something we strongly encourage other teams to take part in.