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winners.jpg  End_of_race.jpg  It was an early start on the day, the alarm was set for 4:40am and the race was starting at 6am. As soon as I was up I ate a big bowl of rolled oats with banana and water, this meal had to get me through the 50k so I made sure it was a good one.

The course consisted of two 25k loops of undulating fire trail. Along the way there were a few creek crossing which made getting your feet wet unavoidable, luckily after each crossing my shoes were completely drained within a 100m or so.

The race started very slowly as all 43 competitors tried to pile through a small gate to enter the forest. I decided to keep the start as conservative as possible and hung around the middle of the pack. It was very easy to get caught up in the 'race' and run too fast, too soon - my goal was to not worry about the people overtaking me and stick to a pace I was comfortable at.

It was a perfect temperature; slightly overcast and the ground was soft. As I came in to the first turn around after 12k I was feeling great and three competitors were not far ahead. The aid station/turn around was at the bottom of a big hill, I knew this hill was going to be twice as hard come the second lap.

During the second leg I found myself running with a few others and struck up a few conversations as they passed by. I decided it was pointless trying to keep up with them as I had no idea what times they were capable of and didn't want to tire myself on the first lap.

I made it back to the start point in 2hrs 19, feeling very comfortable. Again I didn't bother stopping for long just grabbed a banana and some coke - if I could reduce time at the aid stations it might make up for time lost on the steep inclines I had to face. My next target was to reach the 37k turn around point with enough energy to get me home.

It was hard to find any consistent rhythm as you were constantly running uphill or downhill. As I ran down the hill to the aid station I spotted 3 friends were there to give me that extra boost that got me back to the top of that damn hill. It put me in a great head space to get me on my way home.
The final leg home was certainly the toughest. I knew the first 5k was basically uphill so once I reached the top I could relax and get the job done. Not far in front of me was Dave Coombs, a very good runner, but I believe he was taking this race a bit easier. I stuck about 100m behind Dave and eventually caught him when he stopped to stretch. Dave again over took me and headed out in front, I tried not to let him out of sight.

I took my last gel which I had decided to save as it was caffeinated and I thought it would give me a boost of energy. It worked. The last 5k is basically downhill, I began to pick up the pace as my calves were slowly tightening - all I wanted to do was get to the ice baths at the finish line.

About 300m from the end I decided to go for it and pick the pace right up to see if I could catch Dave. I shouted “it's on!” as I came within 50m and the sprint to the finish was on. We both jumped the gate and took off for the line, I couldn't quite get there but it was an exciting finish!

I never would have thought I could get through that without hitting any walls and maintaining such a consistent pace. I can't wait to run another. I have officially signed up for the Tenzing Hillary 60k Ultra Marathon!


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Two weeks prior to the Nerang 50k my program tapered in preparation for this event. So far 41kms was the furthest I had run in the forest, and after that particular run the extra 9ks seemed slightly out of reach.

Today is the day before the race I have kept it pretty casual and tried to not use too much energy. I filled the day with three big meals, lots of fruit and water. I have just found out the Tenzing Hillary Marathon has opened a 60k Ultra as well on the same day. I have decided that if I get under 5hrs tomorrow I will enter the 60k event instead! Wish me luck.



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photo 3.JPG photo 4.JPGLast weekend I completed my first marathon in the Nerang State Forest. The weather on the Gold Coast has been terrible, with heavy down pours and strong winds nearly every weekend. It has been hard to stay motivated to get out in the wild weather but it has been very helpful for keeping my temperature down on these long runs.

I left aimed to leave home at 5am so I could be out running by 5:30am. Due to lightning and rain I decided to wait it out and ended up starting around 7am. It's hard to begin a long run any time after 7am as I find myself getting hungry as it gets closer to lunch.

The Nerang State Forest isn't a big forest but it sure is confusing, nearly every run I have done in the forest I have made a wrong turn and found myself in an unknown area. This time I was determined to follow the path of a 25km loop that would be the same loop used in a 50k race I have coming up. I started off well; I had to make a few creek crossings that were deeper than usual. Along the way I had a stand-off with a kangaroo, almost stood on a snake and managed to cop a few spider webs in the face - the joys of trail running in Australia.

While I didn't quite stick to the correct loop track, I made it back to the car park feeling good and had clocked up 30kms. I managed to down a banana and a SIS gel and headed back out for another 10k. As I didn't want to get lost again I decided to stick to the fire trails and run for 5k then turn around and come straight back. After 4k back into the bush I realised I had taken the hardest root available, in front of me stood a hill named 'Heartbreak Hill'. This is not the kind of hill I felt like running having already done 34kms. It was a tough climb that turned into a power walk but I made it to the top alive and I knew the 5k home was mainly downhill.

By the time I got back to the starting point I had completed 41.05kms in 3hrs 59. I don't think I had the energy to run another 10k, so the 50k race coming up will be interesting.

Here's some more information about the Tenzing Marathon: 


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Chris2.jpgA University of Waikato Hillary Scholar alumnus will brave ice, snow, and altitude when he takes on the highest race in the world - the Tenzing Hillary Marathon.

Qualified snowboard instructor, international level wake-boarder, action sports fanatic, and former Sir Edmund Hillary Scholar Chris Dunn will travel to Nepal in May to complete the marathon.

The Tenzing Hillary Marathon starts at Everest Base Camp (5364m) and travels 42km through the Himalyas to Namche Bazaar (3446m). Athletes have to battle snow, ice, altitude, and exposure to rough terrain and environments as they descend just short of 2 vertical km.

The marathon was created to commemorate the first successful ascent of Everest by Tenzing Norgay and Sir Ed in May 1953.

Chris was a Sir Edmund Hillary Scholar for two years. The Sir Edmund Hillary scholarships are the University of Waikato’s most prestigious scholarship for students who are high academic achievers that are also achieving in the arts or sport and display leadership qualities. It was created to mirror the values of Sir Edmund Hillary.

“Ever since I was a Hillary Scholar I’ve had a goal to visit Everest Base Camp,” says Chris, who during the day is a graphic designer for Gold Coast based water sports company Jetpilot. “I wanted to understand what Sir Ed endured on his expedition to the summit.”

“While I’m not climbing to the summit, a trek to Base Camp didn’t seem like enough, which is why I’ve entered the marathon. This feels like the least I could do to say thanks to Sir Ed and the University of Waikato.”

Chris is a keen runner, and has completed one full and a handful of half-marathons. However, none were off road and none were at altitude.

“I have no idea what it’s going to be like running at altitude, but from what I’ve read there aren’t a lot of positives. Without a doubt this will be the toughest race of my life.”

The University of Waikato is supporting Chris, helping cover his training costs and being in Nepal.

The University of Waikato offers a range of scholarships for high-performance students, including the prestigious Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship, and provides support to help them balance their training, competition and study commitments.  The university is also a member of the High Performance Sport New Zealand Athlete Friendly Tertiary Network.

For more information about the Hillary Scholarships visit

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