My South Pacific marathon, Kirikiriroa.  Bib pickup yesterday.  Scoped out exactly where I needed to be, when I needed to be there…PLUS spent an afternoon in Hamilton Gardens — 2nd fave thing in Hamilton, after Hobbiton of course 🙂

Kirikiriroa (Hamilton, in Māori)

Poor night sleep, less than 3 hours.  Too many days abroad – super fun vacation, but missing Colorado.  Auckland, Rotorua, then a week drive ’round South Island before returning 2 days ago to the Kiwi North.  Noticeable weather difference on NZ’s two island nation.  Unfortunately, marathoning on the hotter, humid twin.  But it’s only weather…remembering today how crazy lucky I am in life, marathoning in the South Pacific two short months after Doc declared me ‘cancer-free’.

Travel buddy dropped me at 6:15am – still dark, no sun for 30 minutes into today’s 42k run.  Followed a throng of local runners to the Start near an illuminated tent across the park.  Last minute race details – luckily I wouldn’t be leading, absolutely no clue what was said.  2 weeks in, still struggling at pulling together full sentences [no good at the Kiwi accent].

8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 & we’re off.  No starting gun, air horn, national anthem.  5K loop around & through Hamilton Gardens – mostly uphill before entering the River Road, along Hamilton’s Waikato River.  Ran a short portion of this trek yesterday – rolling hills, like most of New Zealand…an island nation built on tectonic plates.  Running hills for 2 weeks now, NZ-acclimated – bring it on!

Went out fast, pushed past runners walking the early hills.  Tried to stay near the 2nd pack, following their artificial light ‘til sunrise.  Running downhill on the cobblestone path, caught an upraised brick in the dark.  Took most impact to my left shoulder.  Hit hard.  Blood ran, pooled in my sock.  Stung, but only road-rash abrasions.  Walked a couple minutes, slow jog to the first aid station (first of only 3).  Threw cups of water at my knee – ok, good to go.

First marathon body spill…the positive?  Slowed pace, ran a steady 9:20/minute ‘til the 20K mark.  Wairere Bridge, Horotiu Bridge, large horse farm off Pukete.  Lost all tree cover, baked in morning sun, dehydrated fast.  Took more water at 21K.  Next international trek, wearing my hydration pack.  Limited fluids/same situation last September in Russia – [guessing] we Americans are super spoiled with multiple water/sports drink stops in our marathons.  No judgment, different culture – live & learn.

Bloodied knee stiffened.  Last water station at 30K, 7 more miles to go.  UP Cobham Bridge, entered Hamilton Gardens.  Victorian Flower Garden backside, ran aside the park’s expansive Rhododendron Lawn…last half-mile.  Came in HOT.  Crossed the Finish, received my medal, then lawn-laid for 10 minutes.  84th marathon, my 3rd continent.  YES!

Australia is also referred to as Oceania and in conjunction with Zealandia. Experts are heavily studying this area of the world and the definitions on the countries and areas that define it are changing rapidly. Currently, there are 3 confirmed countries that divide the continent of Australia. It consists of the country of Australia by the same name, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea.

Begged a late check-out & post-marathon shower from my fancy last-day NZ hotel.  Late lunch, easy-going 2 hour drive to Auckland (haggled for ice cream with US dollars).  Air New Zealand return flight not ‘til 11pm (yep, marathoning/flying home same day).

WOW whatta journey – furthest I’ve ever been from Colorado.  Ran EVERY day – Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch, Franz Josef Village, Queenstown, Dunedin, Oamaru, marathon finish’d in Hamilton.  Palm trees, glaciers, geysers, glow worms, whole lotta sheep ❤, Fiordland Nat’l Park, Hobbiton & penguins too!  Nothing left undone, no regret life.


Kirikiriroa Marathon 2017


Keenan Haga

Finish Time: 4:32:50

Race No: 98

Gender: Male

Status: Finished




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