Here’s to 2016

I had all these grand plans to write my blog while I was away, I’d even thrown around the idea of writing a couple to put in the backup folder that I could pull out when time was tight, – and then the day I left NZ my computer crashed and died. Fuzzy lines was the best that I got. I like to think it was secretly allowing me to enjoy my holiday in Kenya and have a proper break (that’s what I tell myself after forking out to buy a new one!). This is not the first time this has happened, but thankfully I have finally learnt to back up all my work in the cloud – hallelujah for the cloud – so it didn’t really matter. I shudder to think otherwise.

I’m a little behind schedule now, so I am rolling a month of blogs into one post to keep it super simple (and make my life easier too!!). At the start of December, I headed south for the Kepler Challenge in Te Anau. I was both nervous and excited – this was the longest I had ever run (actually run, I walked a lot in MdS!). So while the sun didn’t exactly shine, more like the exact opposite with rain and freezing temperatures, I had a blast. The climb up the Luxmore was what I expected it to be – long, slow and a lot of climbing! I appeared out of the bush line and added every layer apart from my long johns and waterproof pants. It was freezing but the combination of the sun’s rays and rain made for many magical rainbows. And you can only smile when there are rainbows.

I arrived at the Luxmore hut for my first ever mid-race compulsory gear check (not just a threat), which was super quick and very well organised, before heading off to tackle the ridge and highest section of the track. Did I say it was freezing? But it was awesome, this section was by far the favourite part of my race. Jacqs and I cruised along together, talking away as per usual and enjoying the ups and downs. I will have to head back one day soon on a clear day so I can fully appreciate the surrounding landscape! In what seemed like no time I came around the corner to a checkpoint, before we started the descent down to Iris Burn hut and the halfway point. A refuel with Bananas, electrolytes and Jet Planes and I was off, making sure to take it easy to save the legs once I reached the bottom.

Father Christmas was a pleasant surprise as we came into the next checkpoint and the half-way mark. The Christmas cake went down a treat too! But it was a super short stop, taking a layer off as quickly as possible before the sandflies had a chance to suck all my sweet (yes, sweet!) blood. I was feeling good for the next ten or so kilometres, cruising along with my head phones in, lulled into a false sense of security when BOOM, my body decided enough was enough. I was at about the 35 kilometre mark (I think, I had decided to run without a watch, a brain explosion which occurred 15 minutes before I started the race). I had eaten plenty, drunken more than I normally would have and it wasn’t what you would call a warm day, but I had just run out of energy. I started to go dizzy, so I stuffed both of my sandwiches into my mouth, hoping these would fix me and give me a boost of energy to carry on. Sure enough after a five to ten-minute walk (who really knows) the eyes started to refocus again and the legs managed a gentle run/plod until the next very-welcome checkpoint at the Moturau Hut. An extra handful of Jet Planes and I was back on track, even managing to find a steady pace until I arrived at the last main checkpoint, 50 kilometres in at Rainbow Reach.

Kepler-Challenge_60

Another top up here with electrolytes and oranges (damn those oranges were good!), and just as I was about to leave Hilary Totty appeared out of nowhere with a massive hug. It was such a lovely surprise, she caught me completely off guard as I wasn’t expecting to see anyone I knew, I almost burst into tears. Instead I held on for that awkward second too long, before carrying on my way with only ten kilometres left to go. Ten kilometres, I can do this.

I cruised out of the checkpoint with a bounce in my step (in case anyone was watching me go) then slowed considerably when I was out of sight. But I was still moving, and I knew I would get there. I was outside the eight-hour mark, but maybe I could crack the eight and half? About one kilometre into it I came out into an opening and could see a girl up ahead who had stopped, stretching out her calves. Caeley! The last time I had seen her was cruising along the flats at the very beginning. I stopped and we had a chat about how hideous we were both feeling, but we only had approximately nine kilometres left so it was a just a matter of moving forward. So we did and it wasn’t so bad!

We could hear the loud-speaker still with two kilometres left until the finish line, but I had been warned about this already and I figured two kilometres out of sixty was nothing. As I crossed the finish line in eight hours and 25 minutes, exhausted, sore but stoked I had made it, I thought “tick that one off the list!”. Kepler Challenge done and done.

RUNULTRA Blogger of the Year Awards
At the start of December I found out I had been shortlisted for the 2016 RunUltra Blogger Awards. This is pretty cool, I love writing this blog and I hope you enjoy reading it!! The blogs were judged over a variety of different criteria, here’s what they had to say about mine – “FYI you were the 6th highest scoring blogger out of all 111. The people who scored just higher, included Ian Corless and Kilian Jornet, so you’re amongst exhaulted company 😉 Well done, I thought your blog was fantastic!” Yay, hopefully a kiwi chick near the bottom of the world can take on these big guns and show them that great adventures happen down under!

There are only a few days left to vote, so if you think my blog is pretty cool I’d really appreciate your vote. You can do it here.151201-cropped-ba-logo

Media Madness
The Monday after Kepler George Berry from TV One News did an interview based on what I’m doing with my adventures,  Running for Rangers, and how that ties in with Say Yes to Adventure magazine. It’s always nerve-wracking seeing or hearing yourself on media channels, let alone on TV (to be honest I didn’t actually see it live, I was somewhere miles above earth between Dubai and Nairobi) but I did watch the link and was really pleased with how it came across. Thanks to everyone for your kind words, and if you missed it you can watch it here. It’s amazing how many people still watch the News!

TVOne-Filming

I also did something I never thought these legs would do – I was involved in a photoshoot with Bill Irwin, an incredible photographer based in Methven. We spent a great day laughing and taking pictures, resulting in some some very cool images. But this definitely deserves a post of it’s own, so watch out for this in the next few weeks!

Borana, Kenya
What can I say. I’ve already used Borana Bliss, but honestly, each time I visit this magical part of the world it just keeps getting better and better. I was lucky enough to spend three weeks on Borana, catching up with Flis and Sambo and trying to be the ‘cool’ aunty to Briar and Jecca. I loved it – running, wildlife, family, friends, eating far too much fudge and just spending time with the Taylor family. Heaven. It took me about a week to get used to the altitude (and disconnect fully from technology), I never quite got used to running in the mid day heat though, but Flis came along with me, driving behind while trying to get her children to go to sleep! It’s an incredible way to train and amazing running with wildlife so close by. (Sorry, many pics but I just couldn’t leave them out!)

#WAAExpert
WAA stands for ‘What An Adventure’, which is pretty damn cool if you ask me. They produce clothing and gear for ultra running and adventures. I applied to become an expert late last year, thanks to Sambo who sent me the link, and in mid-December I found out I had made the cut. Over 1,500 people applied and around 50 from every corner of the globe were selected. So basically, I get some pretty cool kit to wear while I do my adventures, and in return become an ambassador, or ‘expert’ as they call it for their product. I suppose this means I had better keep on with my adventures!WAA_ULTRA_Experts_team

I have no idea what 2016 has in store, but if it’s anything like last year it’s going to be jam-packed with epic adventures! Bring it on.

Image: Richie Johnston

Image: Richie Johnston

‘Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but you look back and everything is different.’ – C. S. Lewis

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8 Comments on “Here’s to 2016

  1. Another fantastic read! Always a great day when that email notification comes

  2. I find out more about your super busy lifestyle by reading your blogs than actually talking with you! This is great Hollie and I’m sure this year will be just as exciting as the last.

  3. Hollie ILoved reading your blog what an amazing girl you are!
    Will keep following you, all the best xx

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