The Great PukeokaHu Man v Horse 2016

Pukeokahu Hall on the eve of the race

Pukeokahu Hall on the eve of the Race.

There are running events and then there are running events. There are events that we sign up to, turn up to on the day, run to the finish line, get a medal and go home.

Then there is this one running event that takes running events into a whole new realm. An event of many facets and dimensions. A unique and special event that invites you, the runner, the rider, the support crew, to join in with the very spirit of the land and the community.

That event is The Great PukeokaHu Man v Horse Race in the highlands of New Zealand’s North Island.

Man v Horse 2016 had much to live up to after setting the bench mark so impossibly high for its inaugural year in 2015.

Would it be able to?

Mt Pukeokahu from the Hall. The course runs through the saddle on the right.

Mt Pukeokahu from the Hall. The course runs through the saddle on the right.

What a day it was. After last year with the rain and mud, 2016 turned on a pearler of a day. The sun was out. The wind was light. The tracks were dry. Runners, horses and riders were way too clean at the finish. The dry conditions turned the degree of difficulty down just a tiny notch.

First aid was there but got to twiddle their thumbs all day.

First aid was there but got to twiddle their thumbs all day.

Milling about before the start.

Milling about before the start.

There is simply so much I could write about this event.

The community of Pukeokahu turn out in force to support and work hard to make this event a success. They don’t pay lip service to community, they live and breathe it.

The scenery and terrain is the masterpiece of the gods. By the time they got to this part of their creation they truly were at their inspired and brilliant best. It’s their little piece of paradise that we humans and horses are allowed to play in for the day.

Pukeokahu School

Pukeokahu School.

A view back to the hall from the school.

A view back to the hall from the school.

At the start

At the start.

The runners starting at 9:30am.

The runners starting at 9:30am.

The horses starting at 9:45am.

The horses starting at 9:45am.

This year I’m pleased to say that Pauly made it before the cut off. No nervous nail biting for the Unsporty Woman. I had the loveliest day. After cheering the runners start at 9:30am, then 15 minutes later the horses and their riders I went for a walk up to Pukeokahu School – the event raises money for the school and the community hall. Then I went for a walk to see how far away one section of the course was that runs parallel with the road for a little while. It was just 2.5kms down the road from the hall and Pauly expected to be there about 3pm.

The course is a figure of eight. Spectators and supporters get to see participants at the start, in the middle and at the finish without moving from the hall.

By the time I returned to the hall the first horse and rider were approaching the half way mark, then 10 minutes later the first runner. From then on there was a steady stream of horses and riders and runners. I had lots of fun cheering. I was truly impressed with every participant. Some looked happy and like they’d just had a little skip in the park, others were starting to look fatigued (some runners were part of a three person team).

And who was rocking the back of the pack? Pauly! He was looking strong and was 15 minutes ahead of his estimated time to get to half way.

The first horse and rider at half way.

The first horse and rider at half way.

Closely followed by the first runner.

Closely followed by the first runner.

A lovely young chap called Jason with another runner at half way.

A lovely young chap called Jason with another runner at half way.

And here comes Pauly and Eddie - apparently they talk more than Janette and I do....

And here comes Pauly and Eddie – apparently they talk more than Janette and I do….

Eddie and Pauly - half way.

Eddie and Pauly – half way.

Back out for the second half.

Back out for the second half.

Look for an orange dot - that's Dave with Pauly just after the 36km mark.

Look for an orange dot – that’s Dave with Pauly just after the 36km mark.  Last year Dave participated in a team this year he was running solo.

After lunch it was time to run down to the place where I would next see Pauly. This was a first aid point at the 36km mark on the course. Finally there was Pauly, not looking too bad considering but starting to look stuffed. After cheering him out of sight, I motored up the hill back to the finish line at the hall. Those 2.5kms were a total of 636m in climb. This place is hilly and mountainous to the extreme.

All up the 42km course climbs 2kms in altitude.

Just take that in for a moment. 2kms of ups in 42kms. Much upping and downing. There is nothing gentle and rolling about this course. The ups are serious and the downs just as. It’s a course that tests the mental and physical resolve and endurance of rider, horse and runner. It takes mental toughness to new extremes.

Last year the gracious organisers allowed Pauly to finish 30 minutes over the cut off time in a total time of 7:31:00.

This year he was faster by pretty much an hour in a time of 6:37:00. I am so proud of my husband. His training paid off on the day. He was equal last place. He finished. He beat the cut off. He enjoyed the challenge.

The final climb to the finish line.

The final climb to the finish line.

Pauly and Dave finishing to much cheering.

Pauly and Dave finishing to much cheering.

Chocolate milk never tasted so good.

Chocolate milk never tasted so good.

The winners!

The winners!

A horse and rider took out first place again this year (3.32:02), but with a runner not far behind (4:00:04).   There were more teams than individuals running but I’m not sure of the times as yet.  Teams consist of three runners (last year I did the first and longest leg of 16kms).

Man v Horse 2016: a huge success! Very well done Lizzie and your organising team. A huge thank you to the volunteers and the sponsors.

There are running events and then there is The Great PukeokaHu Man v Horse race. If you want to experience an event that envelopes every participant, that challenges and supports, then mark your diary for April 2017 and come and join in and find out what my words are trying to tell you. Come and experience something truly unique and different. Your body may well be exhausted at the finish but your soul will be revived and invigorated and the concept of challenge will have a new meaning.

Happy running 🙂

Ps Was I tempted to enter? Oh yes I was, sorely tempted. I was fair itching and twitching to be out there again minus mud. I had my running gear just in case a team needed a runner on the day. Will I run next year? I hope so.   There are times when this Unsporty Woman can be a little sensible (four weeks until Great Ocean Road Marathon). I am pleased to report that being support crew at Man v Horse was just as wonderful as being out there running and decidedly less tiring!  Keep up to date with planning for 2017 by following the facebook page.  Read my post about the 2015 race here.

Venison BBQ on Saturday night - it was so good.

Venison BBQ on Saturday night – it was so good.

...and a baby hedgehog came right up to the hall with all those people around. They are not native to NZ. It's the first time I'd seen one! Almost as good as spotting a Koala at Great Ocean Road Marathon!

…and a baby hedgehog came right up to the hall with all those people around. They are not native to NZ. It’s the first time I’d seen one! Almost as good as spotting a Koala at Great Ocean Road Marathon!

21 thoughts on “The Great PukeokaHu Man v Horse 2016

  1. OH WOW! That sounds truly wonderful! and Pauly? WOW what a star! You guys are just so inspirational! LOVED this post, has made me smile and feel all motivated on this dull dreary Monday *laughs*
    LOVE you guys! OH Annie… how amazing if you enter! CANNOT WAIT to hear!
    Best of luck with Marathon coming up xxx
    Hedgehogs are so cute, they visit us in the garden at home when we BBQ *lol*

    • Thanks Lovely CJ 🙂 Nothing like blue skies and happy runners/riders/horses to bring a bit of motivation. We think we might run as a team next year but we have this idea that we’ll do another marathon the week before – the old we get the crazier we get! I can’t believe it’s 27 days to GOR, my blog count down is telling me so it must be true. I loved seeing the hedgehog…I felt like the tourists do at home jumping up and down about possums and wallabies and things hehe 🙂

      • Blues skies are natures version of dopamine i am sure 🙂
        OH WOW a team thing sounds amazing!
        *LOLOLOL* you both are crazy… but hey, crazy has memories of doing wonderful amazing things hey! JUST DO IT! The gift of being able to is one we should cherish!
        You will ROCK GOR Anniebabes!!!! Excited for you… Excited for Shaz NEXT WEEKEND!!!! London!

      • Oh CJ you would love it here where I am right now. It’s right on the beach, the sky is so blue and the sound of the waves is deafening! I’m excited for Shaz too….only a few more sleeps now! Imaging doing a great big marathon like that so with so many people running and watching….wow!

  2. Well do e to Paul and well done to you for not running and saving those legs for GORM!
    It looks like a wonderful place to run, reminded me of home (England home) and I can really imagine the sense of community feel after being on the receiving end of great Kiwi hospitality and friendliness when we recently visited Taupo.
    I hope you enjoy the rest of your trip 😊

    • Thanks Sam 🙂 it was a great day up in Pukeokahu. I can only imagine how beautiful your part of England is. Kiwis do hospitality so well, I love how most people say hello when I’m out running 🙂

  3. Wow it sounds like an incredible day Annie. So amazed at Paul with his one hour time difference! Incredible and with all of that elevation. I can’t even imagine. Glad you kept those legs for the GOR. Not long now!! 🙂

    • Thanks Sue 🙂 it was a great day. I think my blog is telling me 26 days until GOR. I ran a lovely 25kms here in Flat Point NZ this morning and loved it. Feeling pretty ok about the marathon but won’t be going for any super time, I’ll be getting value for money from the race entry and hopefully seeing a few koalas.

  4. What a fantastic event and your post felt like I was right there with you all I would have been cheering on not running I’ll juts add! Really enjoyed your write up of the event and well done to Paul for his great time

    • Thanks Debbie, it’s a wonderful event for supporters. So much fun. Pauly is still walking around like he has a strategically placed broom stick (oh dear). But he’s back at work today so that’s going to get him moving if nothing else will.

  5. I just shake my head when I look at all those *hills* … and I use the word loosely because they’re truly mountains.
    I was so impressed that Pauly would be game to try it a second time after last year’s miserable mud-fest. He truly has bragging rights!

    • Thanks Joanne, he did a wonderful job and I agree they are more like mountains. It’s like the roof of New Zealand except that down the south island the mountains are truly magnificent. It’s on our list to go again next year. It’s an event that has got into our blood, we just love it!

      • It’s true that some races do get into your blood. They have that little something extra that makes them special 🙂
        I imagine next year we’ll be seeing you on the starting line?

  6. Well done Paul – and what a fantastic job describing to how this event is – I felt like I was there. Great pics, and utterly fantastic time 🙂

    Sounds the most amazing race 🙂

  7. Pingback: Whangarei parkrun | Unsporty Women Can Run

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