Auckland Marathon, NZ – 20.10.19

What an experience by Michael Hammond

On May 27 2019 I booked my place on my first full Marathon: ASB Auckland , New Zealand October 20th. Every run became preparation: Tysoe Windmill, Masseys handicap, Two Castles, Leamington Half, Northbrook 10k, Badgers 10k, Kenilworth Half, Draycote 10K, training runs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays were all done thinking soon I’ll be running through the streets of Auckland !

Having never done a full Marathon before I knew I should be preparing by increasing my run times up to the marathon length , tapering off before the big day. On October 13 I drove to Draycote planning to do 5 laps. I managed 3 and walked one more. My niece Jen has lived in Auckland for 15 years working as a pediatric nurse and she very kindly took the week off to look after me. My flight was on October 15 . 7hrs 5mins to Dubai then 15hrs 25 mins to Auckland .

I arrived at 10.50 am on Thursday 17 October . Just enough time to recover before the big day. I collected my race number at the cloud building, finding my name on the wall of marathon entrants. The ferry to the start was the easiest option. I got the first one at 4.45am for the start at 6am. I put my bag in at the bag drop, used the loo at the ferry terminal them made my way to the start line to find the 5hr pace maker.She was very friendly , thanking all the volunteers as we ran and getting the group to do a ‘whoop’ at every K . Drink stations were frequent . I learned to avoid the strange blue liquid and take the water. I managed to keep up with the pacemaker up to 7 K then did my own thing. Support was brilliant. Many were impressed by my race card that had ‘ Coventry UK’ on it instead of my name. It was good that England won in the Rugby the night before.

The run to the Auckland harbour bridge was an incline . After that it was pretty flat . I accepted jellies, and a piece of chocolate to keep me going . At 23 K I was walking, enjoying the views . The motor bike dispatch riders were really supportive, talking to all the stragglers . One stopped and gave me a bottle of  an isotonic power drink. The kindness (and the drink) spurred me on to run again up to the turning point. Musicians sang Ed Sheeran and other recognisable tunes along the route.Near the start there was a group in Maori costume, and on the home stretch there was a group in kilts playing bag pipes. With 7K to go I took advantage of a calf muscle massage which helped again.

The last 5 K was the longest I have ever walked , When I tried to run there were people walking passing me ! The support was brilliant and I managed a vert short sprint to the finish line in a time of 06:52:45. Will I do another full marathon ? Try and stop me !