Call them crazy, call them nutters but to them it's a way of life and one they take very seriously.
Runners from all over the country and as far as Australia descended on Taupo in New Zealand on the weekend of 20th February 2016 for the annual 160km around the lake relay race.
The Park Run Pirates consisted of a team of 8 passionate runners from an Auckland Saturday morning running club, who were all up for the challenge. Jo and Jaki from the team have experienced this course before so knew what was to come, oh and me as I was support crew again for a second year running. For the rest of the Taupo virgins it's was baptism by fire for this gruelling course.
We had rented a house and on arriving I thought it resembled a warehouse for some sports company, running shoes, back packs and all things running everywhere. Even the fridge had a very healthy look inside with green topped milk and fruit and things I had never seen, oh it's going to be a long weekend I thought.
Well it was time for some sleep, it felt like as soon as the head hit the pillow it was time to wake up again and franticly get ready as we had to be at a location for 05:00 some of the team left at 02:00.
The team had already covered 3 legs by the time we got to the change over point, Gary had already ran 2 of his 3 legs, great effort and spirits where high and banter was flowing.
The night quickly turned to day and the team was smashing kilometre after kilometre. The sun was quickly high in the sky and temperatures rose, we drove from check point to check point swapping runners over and then, followed them along their section giving out drinks and boosts of moral with song and super soaker water pistols. Another team also had the same idea and a mass water pistol fight took place at the side of the road against competing teams.
The mid-afternoon heat didn’t deter this band of warriors as they dug deep and pushed hard. It must have been my motivational talks, that I gave between the stages :-) that spurred them on.
Second to last leg was blitzed by Gooya (Gone with the wind) , she ran with a broken arm (now thats dedication and determination), she ran so quick that my camera had problems keeping her in focus. Handover of the day was awarded to Allan ( Meep Meep Roadrunner) for being so theatrical , The home stretch and off Allan went like forest gump running across America.
Allan stopped short of the finish line and the team assembled. As one unit they all crossed the finish line.
The Park Run Pirates had done it in a time of 12 hours 44 minutes. Thats the equivalent of 4 minutes 77 seconds per kilometer for 160 kilometers, that is some team effort and insane!
Well done to everyone of them for playing their part in being 16th out 93 teams and the 3rd Auckland team to finish - outstanding result.
But none of this would have been possible without the support crew and the dedication and effort that was shown. Also completing the entire event without complaining once, always happy and always full of motivation. :-).
Oh, the first image of the milkyway was shot whilst the runners where all tucked up in bed, lightweights LOL.
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