Wild child – 12 year-old on ultra mission

Would you allow your 12-year-old daughter have a go at running 75 of the hardest trail kilometres in New Zealand? That was the quandary for trail event organiser, photographer and Hillary Trail legend, Shaun Collins and his wife Madeleine, faced when their daughter Zara decided whatever Dad can do, she should be able to. Just before the 2016 Hillary event kicks off, Trail Run Mag caught up to get an insight from both Shaun and Zara.

[This article appears in the current Edition 19 of Trail Run Mag available for free download at www.trailrunmag.com/magazinesINTERVIEW: Chris Ord // Images: Shaun Collins / Cabbage Tree Photography

Shaun, what was your initial gut feeling when Zara proposed running the Hillary?

Initially I was very hesitant. In fact my first answer was NO! Both Zara and my wife Madeleine had to convince me. It’s a long and hard way for such a little bean with 99% of adults in the world not even capable! We as parents were worried about the impact on her body during and after and long term damage as well.Screenshot 2016-02-26 17.03.42

What worried you the most about her running it?

It was mainly worry around the impact on her body. Not wanting this mission to do any long-term damage to her.

What did you consider as your primary responsibilities as a parent in this situation?

I guess it was our responsibility to have an adult think about it rather than the passionate, kids ‘I can do anything’ think. A sensibility check as to whether this was doable. And in taking that further, explaining these points to Zara in a way that she would understand. This is gonna hurt and there is potential that you won’t make it, you might get injured, or you will be very sore for a week afterward. Then we set the ground rules – she would have to train on all parts of the course, she’d have to listen to what we say during the mission – she’d have to eat and drink when we said, stop to rest when we said and if we said no it’s all done, then she had to listen as we’d be in more of a position to say it than she would be thinking. AND this wasn’t the start of regular ultras from now on. This was a ‘oncer’ that she could have a crack at and then nothing this big for a couple of years so she recovered and didn’t keep going to become injured.

Then during the run it was our responsibility to control as many factors as we could to ensure she succeeded. This in the main was keeping her at the right pace and making sure she was fueled with food and water the whole way.Screenshot 2016-02-26 17.03.54

How did you come to judge her suitability – not just in terms of her running CV, but in general how you felt she would approach the challenge?

This was probably the easier part as we know her well! Nearly 13 years of knowledge on what a determined, gritty little human she is (this is a great attribute for some parts of life but hints at some hard work for us in the upcoming teenage years!). We knew that mentally she had it in her to push through the waves of hurt and bliss that you go through in an ultra run like this. Physically she has run for a number of years now – shorter stuff obviously but she has done the 16km event of The Hillary race we organise twice. We ran with her on different sections of the course to familiarize herself with the route and train up a little. During these runs we gave her tips on running on technical trail and helped her learn how to manage her body over hours of running.

Where is the parental line – what would you say no to?

That’s a hard question – we try not to say no with these sorts of challenges. And it was hard to say no when their parents do some pretty crazy shit too. They have grown up seeing us do things that other adults are amazed at so think it’s normal. Kids are usually limited by what us adults say yes or no to. From something like a massive 1000 piece puzzle at age four to a climbing wall in the backyard to running trail events – we have given all three of our kids a looser reign and they have soaked up the challenges and excelled at them from a young age. So I guess the limit is based more on physical safety and mental protection rather than what society or guidelines say. We would say no to something that places them in danger.

What was the reaction from others before she ran?

I’ll admit we were a bit apprehensive on what others would think so didn’t tell many people. Just close friends. This was in order to keep the pressure off Zara more than anything but I guess we also appreciated that some people would not approve. What others thought wasn’t going to stop us letting her but we’d rather not have to deal with their thoughts before we did it. We knew we hadn’t made the decision lightly. The people we told were really supportive and understood after we’d explained it all – and they would have said if they didn’t.Screenshot 2016-02-26 17.04.16

How did you feel while she was on trail – what journey did you as a parent go on during the run?

During the run was the same as when any of us do something like this – a rollercoaster. At the start, wondering if she would actually be able to do it, keeping a really close eye on her food and water intake and that she was pacing herself right. Then when she’d clocked past her longer distance run ever starting to celebrate how well she was going. Then questioning while she was crying and in a low patch if she should stop. Calculating/thinking if this was a normal low patch that ultra-runners have, which I have been in many times, or if this really was a signal to end it. Then celebrating again as she’d pulled herself mentally past the low patch and was on a high again, striding out for the next stop, because she was getting closer to achieving the end goal.

What were the factors in the decision for Zara to pull out at 61km?

The decision was based on sleep and how that would impact her as we ran the last section which is along the clifftops of the Te Henga trail. You need all your wits about you at the best of times and with it being 11pm and having 61km under the belt Zara was starting to feel sleepy tired as well as legs tired. She had just stormed up the mighty Kuataika Hills with a good strong pace so I think she was still going well but she’s probably only been up that late a couple of times in her life, so keeping on going and finishing at 2-3am, would be a bit risky. Also I’d been with her from the start so wouldn’t have been much better cause I haven’t been running much lately! Maybe if we had someone fresh join in then they could have helped get her through. But in the end when we explained our concerns Zara was totally in agreement. And she was just so tired that she didn’t think she could keep going for another 15km.Screenshot 2016-02-26 17.05.09

What do you as both a parent, and runner, take away from her attempt?

I think this emphasised to us how determined and gutsy Zara is. We are so proud that she set a goal and worked towards it and then had a bloody good crack at nailing it. This shows focus, determination and some maturity above her age.

As a runner it is completely inspiring. Watching any runner battle their way through an ultra is exciting and emotional, but watching a 12 year old do it is something else altogether. It really puts all our little grizzles and worries in perspective.

To you Zara, what made you want to take on the Hillary?

I watched Dad do it heaps of times which made me want to try it. I also thought it would be a great way to explore the Waitakere Ranges, which are right beside where we live.Screenshot 2016-02-26 17.04.27

Did you have a strategy to convince your parents if they said no?

Ask again. And again. And again. And again. I also wrote them a letter explaining all the reasons why I should be allowed to do it. And I wrote a plan for doing long runs in preparation to show them I knew it would be hard work getting ready for it.

Why do you think they said yes?

Because they believed I could do it and they wanted me to try. And maybe because they got annoyed with me asking.

What are your thoughts on ‘under agers’ taking on what some would say is an extreme challenge?

Lots of people think that because we are young, we can’t do things but actually we can. People should recognise that. I think race directors should let people under 16 enter big runs. As long as young people understand what is involved and can prepare well and be supported by adults they really can do big challenges.Screenshot 2016-02-26 17.05.18

Why running, why long distances and trail, and why the Hillary in particular?

Running because it is awesome. My body just loves running. Long distance because it is awesome and more fun. Trail because it is so interesting and challenging. And The Hillary because Dad and other people have always spoken about how amazing it is – it is kind of a big part of our family’s lives and I just wanted to go and see what it was like.

We’re old, our bodies hurt ridiculously so doing this stuff, and we can’t remember what it’s like to run like a kid…talk us through your journey? What was it like physically and mentally?

It didn’t really hurt physically but it was extremely tiring. I was sleepy-tired, very long day-tired and every muscle in my body exhausted-tired. My body didn’t get aches or pains or niggles, it just got tired. My tummy struggled from my bedtime onwards.

Mentally it was not so hard until it got dark and I should have been in bed. Then my head started spinning into “why am I doing this?”, “this is such a stupid idea”, “why did I think this would be a good thing to do?”, “I’m so tired” – round and around and around. I think I just needed to go to bed. I did stay up later doing the run than I have pretty much ever stayed up.

Do you still run without thinking, like we all do when we are young, or have you already starting to think about the things like technique?

I’ve kind of had to start thinking about technique because in my Rhythmic Gymnastics training my feet started to get turned out which gave me knee issues running. So I’ve started to think about how my feet land and stuff. Also my mum always goes on to me about using my core to run, especially on up or down hills and when I’m tired so I’m aware of that. Plus I needed to learn how to manage my food and water to get through.Screenshot 2016-02-26 17.04.51

What was the high point of the run?

Getting into Karekare to see Mum’s aid station. I had been struggling a little on the sand dunes and beach and seeing that gave me a massive boost and I couldn’t wait to get going again.

Aside from pulling, what was the lowest point?

Pulling wasn’t really a low point because it felt right. Kuataika track was the low point. I hate that track!

How did you feel as it approached the time to call it a day?

Extremely tired. I was quite upset not because I thought I might pull out but just because of how tired I was. It was a really dark night so I think everything felt like it took ages to get through.

At the same time I knew I had done as much as I could and that the distance I had come was a great achievement so I was already feeling really proud of myself. My feet were wet. That was annoying me, too.Screenshot 2016-02-26 17.05.02

In retrospect, what will you take away from your attempt?

My parents really believed in me to let me attempt this run and that has helped me believe in myself. I know now how determined I can be and that I have persistence. I have learnt that you need so much preparation for a challenge like this. But I know I can do it. I’ve already decided I will try again in a few years.


  1. Runner you take inspiration from and why?

SHAUN: Now…it’s Zara! No, really I don’t have a named runner I look at or think about as my inspiration. My inspiration is doing stuff to challenge myself and I get inspiration from watching others succeed at a challenge they have set. It’s partly why I organise events to see people you think wouldn’t be able to do a run, complete it and love it!
ZARA: Claire and Ashley Thomson because they did the full Hillary Trail when they were 13 and a half years old.

  1. Other than the Hillary, long distance trail you most want to run?

SHAUN: The Barkley Marathon
ZARA: The Last Desert Ultra Marathon

  1. What food do you crave on long runs?

SHAUN: fruit, a good burger
ZARA: baby food

  1. Best runner in your family?

SHAUN: Me of course!

  1. Song or artist you would listen to or sing along to in your head to get through the hard times?

SHAUN: I don’t use music in these longer runs. I really should try one day though!
ZARA: Really upbeat songs like Meghan Trainor, Little Mix, The Script, Katy Perry. Songs like that. And Eye Of The Tiger.

 The Hillary is an epic ultra trail run along the Hillary Track, put on by Shaun’s event company, Lactic Turkey Events under the umbrella of the Skyrunning AU/NZ Series. http://thehillary.co.nz/wordpress/ 

Trail Run Mag Edition 18


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Natural Born Hero: Christopher Mc Dougall


He’s the most famous as the author of the-book-every-runner-worth-their-salt-has-read-even-if-it’s-passe-to-now-admit-it: Christopher McDougall, the man behind and featured in the classic run novel ‘Born To Run‘. Travelling to New Zealand for the New Zealand Festival Writers Week being held in Wellington in March (from the 12th), the writer chatted to Trail Run Mag about his new book Natural Born Heroes, his approach to running and its growth in popularity around the world.   

Casting though across your running-related writing, can you talk to the different reasons you have found within others (‘others’ being your subjects of study) as to why they run?Christopher McDougall_Writers Week_Natural Born Heroes

Think about how weird a spectacle it would be if an alien life form could look down from space and see tens of thousands of humans gathering in cities all over the world to run 26 miles in a giant pack. No other creature acts that way — you don’t see thousands of leopards getting together for a four-hour recreational jog. To me, that speaks to our ancestral roots as long-distance runners. No matter what day-to-day reason we give for getting out for a run, I’m convinced the motivation for all of us is the same: running is our native legacy, our first natural superpower, and some internal instinct never lets us forget.

How and why do you think endurance running can ‘touch’ the average person’s life in a meaningful way?

All you have to do is go for one short run and you’ll have your answer. Who ever came back from a run and didn’t feel better — physically and emotionally? I once asked Anton Krupicka why he runs 200+ miles a week, and he said, “I never came back from a run and thought, ‘Well, THAT was a bad idea.’”

Reading your books, the characters (including yourself) all remain ‘forces of nature’ – that is, they all exhibit in various ways strong personalities, hence the fire and chase for life-inspiration through running – but how does (or could) someone not as full of passion and persistence find their way to a running life?

It’s just playtime. The most addicted runners I know get out there every day because it’s FUN. Focus on fun and you can’t go wrong.Christopher McDougall_Image

Running technique is everything when it comes to maintaining a running life. True or false and why?

Yes, just like in every other human activity, the secret to doing something for a long time is learning how to do it right. Imagine you belly-flopped every time you tried to dive into the pool. Sooner or later you’d get sick of it and give up. Now imagine someone corrected your form and taught you a graceful, pain-less swan dive. You’d want to keep diving forever. Same thing with the way you hit the ground while running.

As a sweeping generalisation, I tend to find that runners are readers – what part do you think literature (high and low) has played in reinvigorating an interest in running?

For a long time, the running bookshelf was pretty slim. All you had were how-to books of generally useless or obvious advice. There still aren’t many really good adventure books about running out there. Adharanand Finn is just about the only writer who’s doing something interesting, and of course there’s always Dean Karnazes’ classic, “Ultramarathon Man.” Otherwise, I think the renewed interest in running is coming from the shift into trail and ultra-racing, which gets people out into the woods and brings a new sense of playfulness to the sport.

Born To Run was published a while back now – how have you seen the dynamic in the ‘trail/nature/adventure/endurance running’ scene(s) change since then?Christopher McDougall_Writers Week_Born to Run

Yes, there’s been a huge surge in trailrunning, which I think speaks to an embracing of our ancestral roots as hunting-pack animals.

I recently wrote an editorial in Trail Run Mag, where I stated that technique kept me in trail running and that I was on a mission to die on my feet, of old age, while running through the wilderness. What are your thoughts on the notion of it being possible to run until you drop, be that in your 80s, 90s or older?

I saw Tarahumara geriatrics in their eighties and nineties cruising up switchbacks in the thinnest of sandals. If I’m still moving that way at their age, I’ll be happy. I think it’s all about consistency — do a little every day, and you’ll still be going late in life.

In your latest book, Natural Born Heroes, you travel to Crete to investigate endurance feats of a very different nature to those you covered in Born To Run – can you contrast the lessons you took away from Crete as opposed to those from the Tarahumara?

Really, it’s all the same lesson: as humans, we have far more latent strength and endurance than we realize. Once we remember how to release it, we’re ALL capable of remarkable feats.

What has your journey been since Born To Run reached its crescendo of popularity (and must-read status) among the running crowd, in terms of your life journey but also your personal running journey?

I’ve become a lot more like Barefoot Ted, who only runs for fun. I once asked him how on earth he could run a 24-hour Leadville Trail 100 on only 25 miles of training per week, and he said, ‘Because most people are busy practicing pain. I practice PLEASURE. All my runs are enjoyable, so I’m always ready to run more.” That’s become my motto.

A thematic in your latest book is about ‘unlikely types’ becoming heroes by undertaking physically demanding journeys, and also the ability of an individual to find a ‘hero’ within – “The art of the hero is the art of natural movement.” – what lessons have you gleaned about how ordinary folk can go about finding their hero within?Christopher McDougall_Writers Week_Headshot

The first step is to forget about competition and focus on skills. We tend to get all worked up about instant achievement — we all want to get faster and stronger immediately — but I’ve learned that the best way to really access our greatest talents is to forget about instant results and instead focus on the slow process of mastering skills.

How can an Ordinary Joe runner start the journey towards awakening their fascia profunda?

Take off your shoes. Learn how your foot wants to move naturally, without all that cushioning and motion-control gunk in the way, and go from there.

In Natural Born Heroes touch on nutrition and a return to the ancient fatty-meat, low-carb diet which sustained our ancestors until agriculture came to the fore? How do you answer critics crying ‘another fad diet on repeat’ and what does it matter to runners?

It’s not a fad if it’s been around for 2 million years. Humans have thrived on a high fat diet since the dawn of time. The true fad are the white flour/processed sugar which have only been prevalent for the relative blink of an eye.Mt Buller



If I could only give one piece of advice to a runner, it would be… Focus on fun.

My most treasured experience while running was… Pacing Barefoot Ted over the last four hours of his Leadville Trail 100. We had a fantastic party in the woods, and I grew to appreciate him more than ever.

The worst mistake I ever made on a run outing was… I get lost ALL THE TIME, but I’m not sure I’d call that a mistake. More like regular blessings in disguise.

A place I have always wanted to run but am yet to get to is…Auckland, where Lydiard created the entire sport of recreational running, and Percy Cerutty’s old Stotan camps in Australia.

My next big run adventure is…Getting lost all over Wellington when I’m there for the NZ Festival’s Writers Week. I expect to spend half my time wandering happily around with no idea where I’m going.

Postscript: Christopher McDougall is a guest at the New Zealand Festival Writers Week in Wellington in March. He will discuss extraordinary feats of endurance with journalist Rachel Smalley on 10 March, and the true limits of human potential with four-time world champion adventure racer, Nathan Fa’avae, ultramarathoner, Lisa Tamati, and record-breaking Masters runner, Roger Robinson, on 12 March. See festival.co.nz/writersweek for details.

McDougall will also be leading free fun runs open to runners of all abilities on 9, 10 and 12 March. See meetup.com/WellingtonRunningMeetup for start times and meeting points.

GIVEAWAY: We have TWO Writers Week Bookmark Passes (worth $200 each) to giveaway to Trail Run Mag readers. The Bookmark Pass gives you 15 tickets to Writers Week sessions at the Embassy, BATS and Circa theatres, with 40 events to choose from. Bookmark Passes may also be used to secure multiple tickets to a single event; so why not experience Christopher McDougall’s events with your running group?

The first two readers who:

  • email chris@trailrunmag.com with the answer to this question:
    What is the title of Christopher McDougall’s latest book? 
  • Like Trail Run Mag Facebook
  • and who are on our email subscriber list (if not already, you can subscribe via the subscribe field found on our homepage, just under the headline image. Look for this on the home page:
    Screenshot 2016-01-18 12.14.42





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Muir poised to make Tarawera Ultra history

New Zealand’s Ruby Muir is set to make history this weekend if she wins the 100km-long Tarawera Ultramarathon and becoming the first three-time winner in the race’s eight-year history.

Ruby Muir in action at Tarawera 2015. IMAGE: Lyndon Marceau

Ruby Muir in action at Tarawera 2015. IMAGE: Lyndon Marceau

Muir first won the race in 2013 and returned last year to win the 2015 event in an impressive time of 9:02, smashing the previous course record by 90 minutes.

This past year she has been on terrific form, winning the Kepler Challenge near Te Anau in Fiordland, the Wellington Marathon and the Hounslow Classic in Australia’s Blue Mountains.

In Muir’s way this Saturday, February 6, stands 102.7km of trails and forestry roads, with nearly 3000 vertical metres of climbing and even more descending.

“I’m not feeling too anxious about Saturday. It’s a good race with a great community feel and I’m really happy to be coming back for a third year of racing,” says Muir.

“What really motivates me is having a good race with a good competitive field. I’ve had an injury for the past two months but had a great winter before that, so it’s a great achievement to have made it to race week.”

Tarawera Ultra Race Director Tim Day says Muir is somewhat of an enigma.

“The Tarawera Ultra course features a number of long climbs, technical roots and rocks over DOC tracks and forestry roads. Usually a runner might excel on one part of the course and be comparatively slower at others.

Ruby appears to have absolutely no weaknesses at all. She has a fearsome reputation as one of the best runners of technical terrain in the world and her Wellington Marathon win (her debut road marathon) shows she can excel of the flat roads as well.”

The Hawke’s Bay-based athlete does much of her training in the hills behind her home and in Tongariro National Park with her husband and mentor, Kristian Day (no relation to Tim Day) himself a top-ranked ultra distance runner.

As a Kiwi ultra runner ranked on the world stage, Muir is in good company. New Zealand women have excelled this past year in the sport of trail ultra running. Taiwan-based Kiwi, Ruth Croft, placed second at last year’s Tarawera Ultramarathon and went on to win the Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix 100k race in the French Alps – once of the biggest races in Europe. Dunedin’s Anna Frost won the Hardrock 100 mile race in Colorado USA – considered to the toughest mountain ultra run in the world.

Mt Buller

The mountains of the United States await Ruby this year as well, having been selected to run in the Western States 100 mile Endurance Run in California.  Western States is the oldest trail ultramarathon and the most prestigious.

One of Muir’s toughest challenges is likely to come from Wellington’s Fiona Hayvice, a runner who has consistently climbed the ranks in the sport and the winner of November’s Tarawera Trail 50km race.

The men’s field again has some depth with names like Jonas Buud (Sweden) toeing the line. Bud is better known for fast and flat (2015 IAU 100km World Champion), but has proven chops in the mountains, too, with a a second place UTMB (2012) and a bunch of in-New Zealand mountain running down in the lead up.

Big name ultra runner Ryan Sandes will be on trail, how he goes with a lacklustre back half to his 2015 season including a DNF (Transvulcania & UTMB) and DNS (Western States) in big races due to sickness. Maybe Tarawera is a comeback? He’s been in NZ for a while now, with the Red Bull Defiance adventure race in his legs (5th in Mixed Teams). Mike Warden will also be a contender, knowing the course well with two years at the event behind him (8th and 5th). Kiwi Vajin Armstrong is never to be underestimated on his day, too, with seconds (2011/12), thirds (2013/14) and a fourth (2015) – he has the consistency and with a good run could take his first title.

Other names to watch include Jason Schlarb (USA), Yoshikazu Hara (Japan), Ford Smith (USA) and in the Aussie camp David Byrne has been pinged as the strongest contender fro across the Ditch.

The Tarawera Ultramarathon is a 100km trail run from Rotorua to Kawerau in the Bay of Plenty and is part of the Ultra-Trail World Tour, a series of the 12 most prestigious ultra-running races in the world. More than 600 runners are entered in the 100k race.

Follow race week on: facebook | facebook group | twitter | live results on the day | finish-line live video stream

See more at: www.taraweraultra.co.nz

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Shoe review: Mizuno Wave Hayate 2

This review first appeared in Edition #17 of Trail Run Mag. available for free download (along with all editions) HERE.

I was ready to dislike the Hayate. Why? Nothing tangible, admittedly, aside from years ago, I had average experiences with an earlier Wave (too snug a fit eliciting hot spots), and rightly or wrongly, I never associate Mizuno with grassroots trail running – in terms of product or community support (Two Bays being the only real involvement with trail running I’ve seen from them in Australia). Ergo, I thought they as a company didn’t care about trail, so why should I care about them?SH_J1GJ157209_01_Hayate2_ElectricBlue

Fast forward a few years and I bump into newly-employed Mizuno staffer, Ash, whom I know from the trails. I know she runs trail. She loves trail. I know because I’ve shared some great singletrack with her. So we catch up and chat. She flings the shoes to test. Maybe, if they’re now hiring trail peeps, they actually – at least peripherally – care about trail? And everyone deserves a second chance, even big brash commercial brands.

Of course, a shoe’s performance on trail and its design heritage has zero to do with whether or not the local mob selling invests in a niche sport or not. Nike invests nothing in trail in Australia. Zero. Squat. But its trail shoes work for many. So let’s get these Hayate’s (meaning ‘fresh breeze’ in Japanese) on the dirt.

They plug the Wave Hayate 2 as the “thriller of off-road. Built for agility on difficult terrain, and speed on everything else, it is the ideal shoe for the off road race day and cross-country seasons.”

Its racer positioning on the trail totem pole is immediately obvious – put them on and the lightness, suppleness and comfort makes you want to trot off at pace immediately.

The upper presents as a fairly traditionally running shoe: mesh, straightforward lacing, a little too-minimal toe coverage for my clumsy liking. But on foot it is, as mentioned, comfortable as heck: you smile when you lace up.SH_J1GJ157209_02_Hayate2_ElectricBlue

Turn the shoe over and some of Mizuno’s more unique design features present: luggy X-grip traction up front bridged by an X-shaped separation under the arch which allows the fore and aft to move independently according to the terrain (more on the pros and cons of that in a minute). The lugs are spaced widely, allowing enough channel to clear mud easily. Up back the grip eases off some. On trail I was a big fan of the performance in latching on to all styles of terrain. Apparently the compound used is a carbon rubber for increased durability – I haven’t run far enough in them to date to comment.

In the midsole, the Hayate sticks with Mizuno’s signature ‘Wave’ technology.

The genesis for the Wave was apparently inspired by the way nature deals with impact forces. From Mizuno’s website: “From sound waves to tidal waves, waveforms spread and dissipate energy incredibly quickly. Inspired by nature’s simple efficiency, we created the world’s first … mechanical midsole.”Mt Buller

The idea is that as the shoe impacts the ground, the Wave inside the midsole actually reduces and redirects impact forces away from your foot, much like your car’s suspension does, offering high end cushioning without bounce and keeping your foot centered throughout the stride.

Most of that technology works through the rear and into the mid foot. Up front, for forefoot strikers, the ride is fairly firm – too firm for long runs on firm surfaces unless your conditioning and technique is up to scratch. But on flowy, technical trails especially those with some give (soft bush ground or rainforest carpets, for instance) these are a stellar choice. The feedback is first-class, making your run nimble and full of agility.

Some of that response is down to the X-groove under the arch. Designed to give independent movement between fore and aft, it certainly gives your foot the flexibility to do its natural thing. Sometimes this can backfire a little if you are seeking a bit more platform support from your shoe – especially in steep technical terrain where a little underfoot rigidity can benefit. Thus your foot sometimes has to work harder, making the shoe more suited to highly technical terrain that is not in the Big Mountain category – think 28km Two Bays rather than 100 mile Alpine Challenge.

The fit on the Hayate 2 is snug – something common to Mizuno trail models – the forward box on the smaller, pointier side; so these are not for runners with big, wide toe splays and those wanting them for the long run need get a half to full size bigger than usual.

Overall the Hayate 2s are an awesome racing flat equivalent for trail running – light, fast, grippy with great feedback and comfort, but their benefits fall away over the longer the run, and on firmer, steeper the terrain. As a runner who mostly runs medium-range technical stuff (20-50km) they are a great choice, especially for event days and when headed to my favourite, fun, fast, flowy trails. 

Great for: grip, flowy, technical trails, soft packed, shorter runs, racing, cross country
Not-so-great for: steep mountains, hard packed long runs
Test Conditions: groomed trails (MTB), fire roads, semi-technical singletrack
Tester: Chris Ord, Trail Run Mag editor
Tester Mechanics: mid foot striker, tends to more technical style running
RRP: $199
Website: www.mizuno.com.au



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EDITORIAL: Technique of Ages

Technique is about the little things, but also about the big things, like keeping you in the game in the first place, says TRM Australia Editor, Chris Ord. [This is the AU Editor’s editorial from the recently released TRAIL RUN MAG #19, out now. Download for FREE here.]Mt Buller

A general thirst for adventure led me to trail running. But technique has kept me in trail running.

I was a generalist outdoorsman – expert at nothing, dabbler in everything. Trekking, paddling, mountain biking…whatever it was, so long as it was in the Great Outdoors.

Blame a youth spent in scouts under a scout master who threw notions like uniforms, badge collecting and honouring the Queen and Country out of the tent flap in favour of midnight madness mega-hikes and coasteering without ropes or helmets. Thanks for that, Dad (he’d never get away with it these days).

If there was a running influence, perhaps it was that same scout master (I was never allowed to call him Dad, it had to be his scout name – Suba – taken from the first half of the name of his work car. His lieutenant’s name was, of course, Roo). Suba/Dad punched out eight or so Melbourne Marathons in his day. Never broke three and a quarter, however (3:17 was his peak performance). Perhaps the trail thing was seeded obliquely back in a youth spent cross-country running, the only sport I was anything better than below average at.

But I was not a runner. At least I didn’t call myself a runner.IMG_6184

So when I came to trail running – not much prior to the beginnings of this magazine – I had long lost the elasticity and supernatural recovery powers of youth. I loved being out on trail, in the bush, an environment in which I had spent so much time. But my running was hopeless. I could headstrong it through the distance. But I soon paid the price of absolute ignorance: ongoing, unabated injury. ITB was the worst, but my knees felt like I had severe osteoarthritis (or what I imagine that to feel like) – something akin to metal grinding and ceasing. It sounded bad, it felt worse. Running to the top of some steps I clearly remember stopping, and inching down like a decrepit old man. I was in my mid thirties at the time. My boss of the day bounded off ahead. He was around the same age. I thought that was me done with running before I even really started. That realisation was wrenching. I wanted to run. I’d spent a mid-life doing all sorts of adventurous things, but not running. And now I’d found it (or rediscovered it if you count the cross country), I wanted it badly.

So I did what any idiot runner does. I bulldozered on through the pain. I ran anyway. No idea why things just got worse. No idea why I didn’t consult anyone. Not a physio, not a biomechanist, not a coach of any description. Not even a running buddy.

Then I did what any other runner does do. I consulted not someone, but something. Hello Doctor Google.

Now, Medi-Googling is not to be recommended. But somehow it did indeed start the journey to rehabilitation by exposing me to one important thing: the idea of technique. I didn’t even know there was such a thing – as stupid as that sounds. I read up on how to run, even though I thought I knew. I mean, we run from the day we can walk, why do we need to learn any more about it? Okay, if you’re an elite, I would accept that technique makes you faster. But I wasn’t trying to get faster, I just didn’t want my knees to lock up whenever I took ten paces.

Following the black hole of tangents that can swallow days on the Internet, I ended up reading about form, Chi running, gait, cadence, barefoot, body position, breathing, core, arm swing. And I took none of it in. This is the danger of the Internet: awash with so much information, yet so little of it sinks in.

One thing that did stay with me was the danger of overstriding and heel strike. I leant forward a little. I started stepping on my mid-to-fore foot. Smaller, more nimble steps. It felt awkward, wrong, laborious. But then I left the screen and started my studies in real life. On a hill in Victoria, I watched elite runner Matt Cooper glide through the bush. Easy, with grace, and a smile. I wanted to float like he did.

In the mountains of Nepal, I watched, me the broken runner still ascending on an out and back, ultra star Lizzy Hawker springing down the boulder field, rock to giant rock, her wrists limp, arms out in front like a kangaroo, feet tap dancing. It was a flow of easy, efficient movement I instantly likened in my mind to Fred Astaire, Singing in the Rain. This at 4000 metres and 100km along the trail. She, too, was smiling.

And so it was that I decided to take my running lessons in the school of observation. I soaked up other’s technique  – watching, feeling, and admiring. I chose my subjects by their lightness of being and their smile.

I banked away in my mind images of those runners. On a downhill bomb, I’d project visions of Lizzy’s (and Fred’s) dancing onto my own technique. Weaving along flowing singletrack, I’d get my shoulders back, engage the core, float over the earth, just like Coops. And, of course, I’d smile.

For me it was not about speed, nor winning, nor times, or even comparing performance against performance. It’s not even about being the best runner I can be, in a way.

What it has been about is seeking a more natural, effortless flow so that I may tap into and enjoy the more ethereal aspects of running: the seeing, the smelling, the feeling. If I make it easy on the effort, through technique, I get to relax and enjoy the ride a whole lot more.

And it’s about longevity. I’m not alone in not getting any younger. And the older I get, the more aware I am of my limited lifespan. Not just generally, but specifically as a runner. And my worry is that my lifespan as a runner will end before my lifespan as a human. And I don’t want that. I want to die on my feet. Running. In the wilderness. With a smile on my face. Thankful for the technique that allowed me to pass away while still moving freely in the environment that makes me feel so alive. Yes, I’ll die running and smiling wildly. Until that time, I’ll keep watching others who radiate effortlessly through nature and try my best to follow in their footsteps, so light they are.

Your observant editor,
Chris Ord, AU

Mt Buller

Larapinta strip


Shoe Review: Salomon SLAB X Series

Does Salomon’s cross-over shoe have the The X-Factor? TRM steps to the dark side and trials a shoe that takes the dirty secrets of our trail world and transfers them to…(cough)…the road*.

*No roads were actually run in the making of this article. The tester couldn’t bring himself to it. Testing remained on trail and fire ROAD. There, we said it. We did it. This review first appeared in Edition #16 of Trail Run Mag. available for free download (along with all editions) HERE.

Offended or intrigued? I’m not sure which to feel. They sent me a road shoe.

A road shoe goddam it! That’s like sending Kryptonite to Superman, or yellow daisies to the Green Lantern (yellow nullifies his super powers, according to my research). Not that my trail running displays any sign of superhero-ness to be de-powered in the first place, of course. Unless you count someone with all the running prowess of Star Wars’ C3PO as a super trail runner type.

But a road shoe? From a brand at known best for their trail running clobber? Seriously…? Okay I’m curious enough to lace up.

So what have we here in the Salomon SLAB X Series, then? Certainly looks like a trail runner. Or in the least like most of the other Sense series shoes doing the singletrack rounds and indeed Salomon have sucked the DNA from their other Sense line-up to create a shoe that is their first foray into the road market. Why? Because of City Trail, that’s why. This is a new movement, for lack of a better word, that bridges road and trail running by trying to replicate the trail running style in an urban environment: constant gear shifts in effort with more technique involved as you traverse changeable urban surfaces. Think tight and twisty cornering through back alleys and play parks matched to a multitude of surfaces from smooth gravel, paving stones, brick, concrete and road asphalt with plenty of ups and downs entailing stairs and short hillocks found in undulating cityscapes. It’s kind of a hyper road run style or, alternatively viewed, a sedated trail running experience.Screenshot 2015-08-03 11.09.00

So what is the deal with the shoes made to pace us through jungles of concrete?

The signature red paint job, super lightweight construction, string-thin pull-tight lace system, and to be fair, the superior instant comfort that Salomon is rightly known for, all are there in spades.

The main injection of change comes first in the upper featuring a 2-way lycra, which is very stretchy and lets feet spread out as they swell over the longer distance (and a result no doubt of harder pounding). The upper is also super breathable, perfect for combating the fact you’ll likely get hot slabs as you speed over warmed asphalt.

The Endofit construction gives a sock-like feel, wrapping around to hold your foot securely in place.  I reckon Salomon have always been good at minimising foot movement inside their shoes while still giving decent room up front for toe splay, a delicate balance.

As a road-marketed shoe, the 19mm heel to 11mm forefoot delivering an 8mm drop gives good stack height for added padding, yet maintains that midrange heel-toe to attempt to keep you on your forefoot with good feedback from what’s happening below.

The mid sole is different to the trail cousins built sans rockplate (or Profeel film equivalent in many Salomons) and with a much softer heel it adds up to what has been described as ‘buttery’ ride.

That butter analogy doesn’t extend to any slip and slide on the outside, however, the Contra-Grip package – Salomon’s own grip solution – featuring multi direction lugs giving more grip that most road shoes. The grip channels underfoot are deeper, while the horseshoe-like heel gip is soft and spongy, ready to combat harder impact running for the heel strikers. Overall, traction on the liquorice allsorts surfaces found in city environments is superb.

Mt Buller

Click on the image to DOWNLOAD the latest edition (17) of Trail Run Mag for FREE!

Looking back, Salomon actually led the reverse crossover from trail back to road establishing the idea of door-to-trail running, where a shoe was needed to be able to cope with the wide-ranging demands of both dirt and concrete as runners left their suburban front door striking out in search of dirt trail for at least part of their run – the realities of city lifestyles and limited time.

Although this shoe is sold with a story of ‘urban adventuring’, I thought it remiss not to test the to-trail aspect. What I found is that they are actually a versatile shoe, well suited to moderate singletrack and fire trails and any dirt munching that is relatively consistent in terms of being non technical. They fill that gap where the other Sense models with meatier lugs would be uncomfortable on more regular terrain.

When the going is relatively smooth – be it dirty or concrete clean – these shoes come into their own. They feel comfortable enough for long hauls, yet remain light and floaty enough to give your a racer feel.

I did also venture onto more technical (if soft underfoot) trails and they performed as well as any other mid-range trail ranger, handling creek crossings (they drained and dried well), bush carpet and slippery rocks with aplomb.

My only complaint about these shoes (when worn in appropriate context in general – they are no mountain muncher) is that I tended to get hot spots on my outer toes. This, however, would be down to the very personal shape of my own foot versus yours. Most will likely remain comfortable, but do be aware of that zone as a potential problem patch when trying them on in-store.

TAKEOUTS: Salomon SLAB X Series

Great for: door to trail, long training runs on mild terrain, road (cough)
Not-so-great for: mountains and technical terrain|
Test Conditions: Technical and non technical single track, some fire road and as little actual road as I could do while still getting to grips with their performance on asphalt, 68km
Tester: Chris Ord, Trail Run Mag editor
Tester Mechanics: mid foot striker, tends to more technical style running routes, mostly 15-30km range outings.
RRP: AUD $209.99
Website: www.salomon.com/au

Screenshot 2015-07-31 16.43.48


Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 4.21.10 pm

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 4.21.00 pm

It was you: a letter of trail origins

Kiwi running legend, Mal Law, is about to undertake the most audacious feat of his life… the High Five-0 Challenge: fifty marathons, fifty mountains, fifty days. Before that it was the 7-in-7 and the Coastal Path Challenges with a bunch of other cause-related runs packed in between. On the eve of his biggest challenge to date – and biggest fundraising effort with almost $300K raised for Mental Health Foundation of NZ (MHF) – we thought we’d re-run a very personal piece he wrote for the magazine a while back, exploring the motivations that drive his obsession with trail running which can be traced back to his parents. Here, Mal writes a letter to his Dad in a conversation that sheds some light on the man and the passion. Check his mission out in real time at www.high50.org.nz. We wish Mal the best on the coming days, which will be huge, tough, but full of inspiration. 

Alfred Edward (Ted) and Esme Law 1969Dear Dad,

I should have written this letter to you long ago, but somehow I never got around to it. I so wish I had, because then you might actually have got to read it.

The doctors said it was pneumonia and maybe that’s what it was in medical terms. But in human terms we know it was a broken heart. Just a week earlier we had said goodbye to mum. Your job on this mortal coil was done. You had loved her for more than 60 years and cared for her so touchingly in her final months. There was nothing left for you to hang around for and so at the same time as being devastated by losing you we were pleased that you didn’t have to struggle on in a world devoid of purpose and meaning.

You were a man of your generation. You kept your emotions in check and didn’t outwardly express your love, yet I was never in any doubt about just how much you did love me. This rubbed off on me and until close to the end I hadn’t mustered the courage to say what should be the simplest thing to say to your own father – “I love you dad”. I’m so glad that I eventually did but I also wish I’d also told you how grateful I was to you for shaping the person I have become. That’s what this letter is about.

For today, Dad, I am a happy, fulfilled person who has found a passion that both defines my life and gives it meaning – trail running. I love everything about it. The physical and mental challenges that it provides, the amazing places that it takes me, the adventure that is inherent in every run, the massive reward I get from running for good causes, the people that I do it with and the wider community of friends and acquaintances that I feel so very much a part of. Trail runners are my tribe and I’m happy being one of them. That sounds almost trite but the sense of belonging and fulfillment that this fringe pursuit brings me is central to my concept of self worth. And without that we are nothing.

So how is it that you – a man I never ever saw running, except as a referee on a rugby field and a devilishly sly tennis player – had such a heavy influence on what I am today?Cap to come_IMG_0229

Perhaps the most obvious way that you rubbed off on me was through your own love of mountains and wild places. Some of my earliest, strongest and most poignant memories from my childhood are of rummaging around in cupboards at home amongst your hiking boots; ferreting in your steel-framed rucksack looking for leftover boiled sweets; the musty aroma of your anorak and waterproofs. I can almost smell the dubbin and the leather as I write this; the peaty smells that emanated from those clothes even months after your last trip to your beloved Scottish mountains.

It’s all so vivid and feels so connected with, responsible for, what I have become. Which makes it hard to believe that the few times you succeeded in getting me on to a mountain you did so with me kicking, screaming and moping, bribed by the promise of a measly square of fruit and nut chocolate if I made the summit.

Given my obstreperous attitude and seeming indifference to thick Scottish cloud, you’d have been surprised if you’d ever caught me doing something that I did regularly – sneaking glances at your mountain walking photo albums. But Dad, even without realizing it at the time, I think I always loved those boring black and white pictures of misty ridges, stark corries and dark rock walls. They left in indelible impression on me and with hindsight it was inevitable that I would one day be drawn back to such places, freely and of my own will, to experience the sheer unmitigated joy of pitting myself against gravity and bagging peaks. Thank you for planting that seed and sorry I wasn’t better company at the time. Mal Tama Lakes 1

I also recall you telling me stories about your adventures. Catching the night train from your RAF base in the south of England hundreds of miles north to disembark on the bleak expanse of Rannoch Moor so you could bag a few peaks before catching the train back the next day. Taking the mail boat from Mallaig into the wilds of Knoydart to knock off the most remote peaks in the British Isles. Hearing of your fear on scaling the Inaccessible Pinnacle in the Cuilin Range on the Isle of Skye. Each story seeped into me, crystallising into an unquenchable thirst for adventure that would surface many years later.

But it was more than just your passion for wild places that has shaped who I am today. You had a personal quest and after roaming all over the Highlands for some 30+ years you became one of the first people ever to summit all 650 or so 3,000ft-high Scottish ‘Tops’. I never told you at the time but I was so proud of you and I loved the look of total incomprehension in the eyes of friends when I attempted to explain to them what you had achieved. I’m sure this is one reason why I am such a goal-oriented person, and why I love attempting things that are beyond the comprehension of many.

So through you I discovered mountains and I discovered hiking. I started bagging the Scottish peaks myself and found adventure and solace in those high places. Then I moved to New Zealand and my love of the outdoors was magnified by the wildness of our landscapes here. I took to multi-day tramping trips like a duck to water and this eventually led me to trail running. It may seem like a circuitous route to finding my true calling but I know I would never have arrived here at my ‘happy place’ without your quiet unassuming influence. Thanks dad.Mal Tama Lakes 2

But all this was just the start. I was trail running for many years before I really started to think of it as a defining part of who I am. Before I became obsessed. The tipping point came when I decided (ironically enough during a long solo multi-day hike) to attempt running the 7 mainland Great Walks in 7 Days. What was to become the 7in7 Challenge. This as you know was my way of belatedly dealing with the event that forty years earlier had shattered us all – the death of your other son, my brother Alan. I wanted to honour his memory and I wanted to raise money for families that were facing the same battles that we had to face when Alan was sick with leukaemia.

But I also wanted to do something that would make you proud of me. Crazy I know that at the age of 49 I was still looking for that, but there you go. As it turned out, when I told you of my plan you simply said: “You’re off your rocker, that can’t be done!” I know you were simply worried for me (or at least about my knees), but I have to tell you that did rather stoke my fire and make me even more determined to succeed. So once again you were highly influential in creating what has now become my true passion – using trail running to benefit great causes.

So much for the past. What of the future? Dad, I so wish you were still here to share in the next great adventure planned. This one is special because I’m coming ‘home’ to do it. I wanted to tell you about this when the idea first hit me but it was just days before Mum’s funeral service, you were sick, and the time seemed wrong.10658622_711102448944959_7791270423804775759_o

Do you remember that Sal and I took off to Cornwall for a couple of days, under orders from Hilary and Jacky (the Sisters That Must Be Obeyed), to have a couple of days to ourselves? Well, the first morning we were there I awoke very early. It was pitch black and freezing outside but I needed a run to clear my head and make sense of mum’s death. So I took off on the South West Coast Path along a section that I knew you and mum had walked and loved. The frigid air chilled my bones but gave me a sense of alertness that I’d lacked for days since stepping off the hastily booked flight from Auckland.

For the first hour I could only see what my head torch illuminated but gradually dawn seeped through the sky and struggled in vain to warm this stark morning landscape of huge cliffs and wild seas. I could see you and Mum walking hand in hand along the cliff path and I cried as I ran, trying to find the right words for my eulogy to Mum. This is when I knew that I wanted to run the entire 1014 km length of this fierce but beautiful trail. It just seemed so right and it became even more so when just a week or so later you too passed away.

[Mal did end up running the length of the South West Coastal Path, having teamed up with runner Tom Bland]

Yes, I know you would have appreciated the irony of this and most likely would have come up with some fitting pun to make light of the situation. You’d have tutted, shaken your head and asked “Why?” But I can’t help but feel that deep down you’d have been very proud, just as I know you were when I completed my 7in7 Challenges.  

From the Mountain

By George Sterling (1869-1926)

Let us go home with the sunset on our faces:
We that went forth at morn,
To follow on the wind’s auroral paces,
And find the desert bourn
The frontier of our hope and Heaven’s scorn.

Let us go home with the sunset on our faces:
We that have wandered far
And stood by noon in high, disastrous places,
And known what mountains are
Between those eyries and the morning star.

Let us go home with the sunset on our faces:
Although we have not found
The pathway to the inviolable spaces,
We see from holy ground
An ocean far below without a sound.


ED’S NOTE: As Mal does, we here at Trail Run Mag have a great belief in the power of being active in the outdoors – including trail running – to help heal and manage mental health issues. So we encourage anyone who can, to donate to the cause through Mal’s website or the Mental Health charity he’s raising funds for. Or, we encourage anyone experiencing mental health issues to reach out, contacting a mental health assistance organisation wherever you are, and maybe even hook up with one of the many social trail running groups out there – friendly bunches one and all, welcoming of newcomers and great to connect with.



New editor at Trail Run Mag

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Amanda running the Luxmore Grunt. IMAGE: Kepler Challenge.

Let’s face it (says the Aussie), New Zealand may just be the best place on Earth to run trails. So when we kicked off Trail Run Mag in Australia fifteen editions and nearly four years ago, we always wanted to, without stepping on parochial toes, celebrate the trail running culture and community that exists there.

To that end, we initially were supremely lucky to have Malcolm Law on board as our New Zealand editor, charged with curating all that was dirty and good about his beloved homeland. Now, Mal is like Mr. Trail Run in New Zealand and with all his awesome work in raising funds and awareness for mental health, it was inevitable that he’d get too busy and move on to concentrate on more important goals than nutting out another editorial and ferreting out the next local trail guide. But while we had him, damn we were grateful, and we continue to regard him as a founding father of Trail Run Mag (as always listed in the credits!) and support his charity work where we can.

Filling Mal’s big singletrack boots was Vickie Woolley, another notable on the Kiwi trail running scene, she injected her own passion and energy into our pages, and again we are so thankful that she spent a fair number of editions helping curate and write the New Zealand content. Alas, Vickie’s talents have been spotted by greater than us, and she has decided to move on to other projects, including working for trail event crew Total Sport and, we hear, a few other trail running/media related projects – stay tuned for Vickie’s news. We wish her all the best and know that her passion will shine wherever she decides to direct her considerable energies. An inspirational woman who has made her mark on the NZ trail running scene for sure and will continue to do so. Thanks Vickie.

So, we were left with a huge void, and fretted over who could jump on board the good ship Trail Run Mag and continue our collective passion for all things trail running New Zealand. As it happens, via a sliding doors moment, we can now say we have a new New Zealand Trail editor who we think you’ll enjoy reading and who brings as much passion and personality as ever.

While running trails in Victoria, Australia, Wellington-based Kiwi Alan Crowe mentioned to us a trail running writer that he held in high regard, and specifically a blog about runner’s toenails. Well, we read that blog, and straight away knew, she was our kind of trail journo. Thankfully, she obviously felt that Trail Run Mag could be her kind of fun writing outlet, because she signed on to the role of New Zealand Editor.

"The most insincere thumbs up I have ever given" - Tarawera 2014. IMAGE: marceauphotography.com

“The most insincere thumbs up I have ever given” – Tarawera 2014. IMAGE: marceauphotography.com

Wellington-based author of the blog My Romance With Running (myromancewithrunning.com/), Amanda Broughton is from Fiordland in the South Island of New Zealand. She got in to trail running a couple of years ago when she wanted an excuse to go home to see the family without seeming to be visiting them on purpose, so entered the Luxmore Grunt (part of the Kepler Challenge) and became obsessed.

Having views over ocean and mountains, lungs full of sea air, racing rocks and scree down hillsides with blind surgical precision, elbows flapping, and teeth catching sandflies is, Amanda says, when she is in her element.

LM_140315_Tarawera2014_0097_MEDres (logo)

Tarawera 2014. IMAGE: marceauphotography.com

“I’m currently recovering from a little stress fracture, so I’m technically a trail walker but the team at TRM has made an allowance in this case if I keep up a steady supply of Trail Porn. I think their addiction is healthy though, so I’ll do what I can to sate it.”

TRM’s Australian editor, Chris Ord, looks forward to working with Amanda to further uncover the trail glories of New Zealand.

“I still laugh when I think about the effort she went to with her toenail blog – you have to see it as much as read it,” says Chris. “Her humour – and the sheer effort she went to – instantly made me want Amanda on the team. As many readers will know, Trail Run Mag isn’t really like any other running magazine out there. There is no set formula, we just publish whatever intrigues us, and be damned. And to be honest we prefer the abstract, the weird, the off-kilter, the unexpected. Not saying that Amanda herself is any of that…but we’ll be encouraging it wholeheartedly in what she puts into our pages!”

Her sign off on her blog gives insight into her approach to life and trails:

My big hairy audacious goal is to run a 100km Ultra, and win it. Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you’ll have as much renal failure, blistering, chaffing, and muscle necrosis as the person who came first.”

Love it.

Amanda’s job is enviable: cover all the goings on in the NZ trail running community, run trails, review trail gear and seek out those quirky stories to be found out there on the singletrack.

“The NZ content will be Amanda’s baby – she’ll bring fresh approaches and ideas and will, we think, be an awesome curator of everything New Zealand.”

If any readers have any ideas for articles or content feel free to get in touch with Amanda – she especially loves invites to cool trail runs! Amanda’s first edition will be in March (Edition 16), as always available at www.trailrunmag.com/magazines and you will see her occasionally comment on NZ trail topics on our social media feeds.

its.amandabroughton (at) gmail.com



Editorial: Child’s Play on The Trails


I believe the children are our future.

Sure, Whitney Houston may not have gone on to be the greatest role model of all time, but her lyrics hold truths far greater than her kitschiness.

Teach them well and let them lead the way.

That’s it – you gotta show them what’s possible if they are going to be able to lead the way.

Check all those kids setting themselves up for thumb arthritis as they ‘play’ on screens. Worse, check out all the dads (and it is usually the dads, be honest) at the playground tapping away on screens – “just getting off this last email” – while their kids stare in wonderment at a climbing apparatus.

“Dad, what do I do here…?”

Silence. Tap, tap, tap. “Uh, two secs, be there in a tick…”

And the kid looks to Dad and learns what is important.

IMG_8843That apathy toward physical play in the outdoors is dangerous. More dangerous than any perceived physical danger that lurks in the outdoors itself (a notion the cotton-wool parent may erroneously employ when justifying their child’s lack of outdoor play).

And here I (truly) mangle Whitney’s words:

Show them all the beauty that can be found outside.
Give them a sense of risk management to make it easier.
Let the children’s laughter remind us how good nature can be.

Okay, so my reworking is as awfully cornball as Whitney’s, I agree. And I guess I’m not sprouting something that most of you lot – trail runners – would find hard to swallow anyway.

So my point, then, is this: that it is up to us leaders of the active community to engage and activate beyond our own; to shove a firecracker called ‘nature play’ up the non-active crowd’s negligent parenting clacker.

Beyond our own families – and the number of kids-of-trail-runners already running singletrack warms the cockles of my adventure-loving heart – is a generation of kids who can be introduced to the recreation we love so much. And let’s face it, you gotta blood ‘em young – even your local drug dealer will agree there. And best we inject our kids with the natural green stuff called fresh air rather than any other nefarious substance.

The author, Richard Louv, in his seminal book Last Child In The Woods, speaks of Nature Deficit Disorder – where a lack of contact with nature increases the potential for childhood depression, obesity and other wellbeing issues. Tim Gill, an advocate for exposing children to risk and outdoor play, is well known for his thoughts on the importance of outdoor play and childhood adventure and how it engenders better risk management and resilience in children as they journey through adolescence to adulthood. Indeed, internationally and locally there are now dedicated movements such as Leave No Child Inside, Get Children Outdoors, Children and Nature and Take A Child Outside working to reconnect children with nature.

IMG_8848Importantly, as Richard Louv argues it is not just children with ‘outdoorsy’ parents who need to be reconnected – more importantly it is the children of parents who themselves are not connected with nature that must be also focused on.

Which is why it is so awesome to see the likes of well known ultra trail runners, Brendan Davies and Jo Brischetto, setting up things like Trail Kids, a small non competitive outing specifically designed to introduce kids to trail running. Check them out at www.trailkids.com.au.

As a parent of two daughters, I love this concept and it’s one I think should spread far and wide not just as something for our won kids but as a forum for everyone’s kids to safely experience what we all love: trail running. Because if we’re honest, it’s just ‘playing’ in the outdoors with an adult twst anyway (we add competition or mission to it to make it seem all grown up…but really, we just like splashing in puddles…)

My favourite trail runs of all time have been my shortest and least exotic ever: out and about on local singletrack with my eldest daughter. I’ve seen firsthand how trail running builds the resilience factor, too. My daughter is no rough and tumble type, with a delicate sensibility that – how do I put it politely – sometimes puts her in the princess category. Yet on trail, I watch as she kicked a root, went flying face first into the mud, a hard fall that would likely have had me calling it quitsville for the day. Yet she upped, dusted herself off and continued on running. Five kilometres. A six year old delicate petal turned determined dirty warrior princess. She now harangues me whenever I return from a trail run – can I go running with you now, pleeeease? Which is fine. Except when I’ve been out on a long run. But then, it’s my turn to be resilient and back up, for my daughter’s sake. And those moments I then have with her out on trail I know I will cherish forever – especially now, while I can still keep up with her. For I’ve noticed her form, I’ve seen her stride purposefully forward, dust herself off with Xena attitude…I know that it’s not that long until she’ll be off tackling mountains tougher than I’ve known.

And I repeat:

Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be.

– Chris Ord, Editor, Trail Run Mag

**This article is the lead editorial from the latest digital edition of Trail Run Mag, available as a pdf download fro FREE from www.trailrunmag.com/magazines or as an iPad / Kindle edition on subscription. See the same link for how to purchase. Hardcopies of the special print edition (different content from digital edition – a best of ‘look’) are also available, along with limited edition tshirts and stickers, at www.trailrunmag.com/shop**

Mt Buller

Larapinta strip

Trail run guide: Ben Lomond, New Zealand

Your guide: Matt Judd from www.juddadventures.com

One could argue that New Zealand boasts more killer trails per capita than anywhere else on the planet. And if one did argue that, one would have to say that Queenstown was the capital, so close is it to a plethora of singletrack gold. Thing is, you don’t even have to step far from town centre to be able to tackle a monster mountain run. Matt Judd, usually found on the Gold Coast, nipped over the Tasman to have a play in the hills, Ben Lomond to be precise.

DCIM105GOPRONEARBY TOWN/CITY: Queenstown (the run starts/finishes in the centre of town)
EXACT LOCATION: Skyline gondola base on Brecon St
TOTAL ROUTE DISTANCE: 16km (give or take)
TIME TO RUN: 2-3hrs for elites. 5-7hrs if you’re taking it easy and enjoying the views.
TYPE OF TRAIL RUN: Out and back with a loop
option to finish
DEFINING CHARACTERISTICS: Native forest, breathtaking views of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountain ranges, beautiful singletrack running
FEATURES OF INTEREST: The run takes in either native beech forest or douglas fir forest down low (depending which way you run), and opens up above the treeline to spectacular lake and mountain views in every direction. Do NOT forget the camera for this one!

There are plenty of variations to how you start/finish this run, but this one takes in a little bit of the lake before taking you up the steep stuff!

1.     From the gondola base, head down Brecon St to the lake. You’ll cross several roads during this time but the lake is a pretty easy landmark to find!

2.     When you get to the lake turn right onto the wharf keeping the water on your left. Follow this until the wharf ends and a path begins, leading you beside Lake Esplanade heading out of town towards Fernhill. Follow it.

3.     You follow the path for 800m or so where you will come to One Mile Roundabout. Here, take the right-most road (there’s a gravel path on the side) which takes you to the One Mile Creek Walk and the old power station.

4.     When you get to the old power station take the straight-most option which is signposted. Be careful not to follow the mountain-bike only trails in this area.

DCIM105GOPRO5.     The next bit takes a little care navigating as you need to follow the orange trail arrows randomly fixed to trees on the route. It’s not hard to follow, but you need to keep your eyes out for the correct way. The going through here is steep.

6.     Continuing up, you eventually find yourself in a clearing (Midway Clearing, but this is not midway for your run!) which you will need to cross, finding the DOC sign to the Ben Lomond Track. Follow the track and after more honest (steep!) work, you’ll find yourself at the edge of the treeline.

7.     300m or so from when you break through the trees, there is a track junction at which you want to continue straight on in the direction of the Ben Lomond saddle. Remember this junction for the return journey. From here it’s onward and upward!

8.     Follow the Ben Lomond Track up, being sure to lift your head up and take in the ever-changing, spectacular views of the surrounding region. You will eventually come to a DOC sign at the Saddle indicating the Ben Lomond Summit track to the left (your route) or the Moonlight Track/Arthur’s Point to your right – go left. There’s a chair not far on from here that affords great views of the mountains if you need a sit down.

9.     Continue to follow the tramped route, which sees you climb steadily up before taking you around to make your final approach to the summit from the north-west. You made it!

10.  Coming back off the summit, re-trace your route back to the saddle and continuing on the Ben Lomond Track towards Queenstown. You will eventually get yourself back to the track junction you first approached that sits about 300m on from the treeline. This time, take the left path which directs you towards the gondola station.

11.  Following the signs to the gondola station is easy enough, and once you arrive you can stop for a pit-stop or keep making your journey back to town. From the station, follow the Skyline Access Rd down for 600m or so until you reach the signposted entrance to the Tiki Trail – this is the trail you’ll follow back to the finish.

DCIM105GOPRO12.  The Tiki Trail signs guide you all the way back down the steep trails, following the orange tree markers where signs aren’t present. You’ll come to a few mountain bike track junctions along the way but the walking route is well marked. And you’re done!

Note that the track is in an alpine environment up high and can be difficult and often dangerous to navigate in winter conditions (snow and ice!). It always pays to check in at the DOC office in town to find out about track conditions before heading out, and if you can find a local to accompany you – even better!


Queenstown is perhaps just as well prepared for post-run goodness as it is for the delights of running! For a coffee or quality diner-style breakfast, Joe’s Garage – hidden away on Searle Lane in the middle of town – serves a consistently good brew and hearty sized meals. If you’re chasing a post-run beer, it’s hard to overlook Pub on Wharf – located on Steamer Wharf in the heart of Queenstown – where you’re treated to an affordable-yet-quality menu, a dizzying array of beer choices (*Sassy Red* – thank us later), and you can sit outside and watch the world go by next to the lake. Hard to beat, really.