RUN­NING THE HIL­LARY TRACK

With only one month prepa­ra­tion

New Zealand Fitness - - IN THIS ISSUE - CIARAN RE­GAN re­ports.

By Ciaran Re­gan

Com­plet­ing the 75km Hil­lary Track on the

edge of Auck­land’s Waitakere Ranges, with the sec­ond fastest time ever, is no easy feat.

Chris Bach­mann, a 30-year-old from Ger­many has now lived in New Zealand for more than three years. The idea to run the Hil­lary Track came from a run­ning friend of his dur­ing a con­ver­sa­tion in Novem­ber 2012 and from then the idea was stuck in his head.

“We were only chat­ting about long dis­tance run­ning, of f road run­ning and then we ac­ci­den­tally talked about the Hil­lar y Track. It was more small talk.”

Chris is al­ready an ath­lete who likes to push his abil­i­ties beyond his lim­its, whether in the gym or on the track. His dad was a pas­sion­ate run­ner and be­gan coach­ing Chris in long dis­tance run­ning from the age of ten. At 17 Chris be­came Ger­man Ju­nior Cham­pion at the marathon cham­pi­onships in Duis­burg with a time of 3.09 hours.

Ten years af­ter his sec­ond marathon Chris de­cided to get back into long dis­tance run­ning and com­peted at the end of Oc­to­ber 2012 in the Auck­land Marathon com­ing 86th over­all; then four weeks later his very first of f road race and marathon, the West Coaster, com­ing 5th: “I felt good on those two races and I thought, what else is pos­si­ble? I wanted to keep push­ing my lim­its.”

Only a few weeks af­ter that race, the idea was born to run the whole Hil­lary Track at the end of sum­mer.

At the be­gin­ning of March 2013 Chris was lucky enough to find a run­ning part­ner in Sin­dre Stoten. Meet­ing through a friend, Sin­dre had ar­rived in New Zealand only a few weeks prior. Sin­dre was born and raised in Nor­way. At 20 years old he had proven to be one of the best cross­coun­try run­ners in Scan­di­navia. He is now study­ing to be a chi­ro­prac tor at Auck­land Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy.

Within a few days of meet­ing each other they be­gan train­ing. They had only four weeks to get to peak level for their big day. Dur­ing week­ends they would go over to the Waitak­eres to run and get to know this beau­ti­ful but de­mand­ing track. Their runs lasted be­tween 1.30 and 3.30 hours, cov­er­ing 15km to 25km. Some­times they were ac­com­pa­nied by run­ning friends who were able to help them get used to

the re­fu­el­ing process needed for ul­tra-marathons.

They were able to test their level of fit­ness by run­ning the Dual on Ran­gi­toto. Three weeks be­fore the big race, they both fin­ished in the top 10 in under-four hours.

Af­ter a week of ta­per­ing and full of ex­cite­ment, the big day ar­rived, they picked Sun­day the 14th of April. A sup­port­ing team was al­ready or­ga­nized to bring them to the star ting point at 5.30am at the Arataki Vis­i­tor Cen­ter and then to cheer for them at the dif­fer­ent road cross­ings and beaches, over the course of the race.

It took near 20 min­utes be­fore day­light kicked in but, Chris and Sin­dre were fully con­fi­dent not only to com­plete the Hil­lar y Track, but to break the track record of 9.09 hours.

The weather con­di­tions were per­fect, a cloudy sunny mix and just over 20 de­grees – the track was dry af­ter a sunny week.

They set the right pace and were even faster on the first 1.30 hour, but af­ter two hours Sin­dre un­for­tu­nately started to strug­gle with stom­ach is­sues. He then had to pull out of the race at Karekare just af­ter the four-hour mark. “I felt re­ally sorry for Sin­dre be­cause he was so ex­cited about the race and he re­ally wwanted to ccom­plete it. BBut he had tto stop bbe­cause we ddid not want to take any ririsks. I can’t fifind the wwords to ththank him.”

So that was when Chris had to run by him­self to Anawhata Road, where he was meant to meet his or­ga­nized pace­maker, Richard.

Af­ter get­ting lost with Sin­dre ear­lier in the race for 15 min­utes, Chris made a sec­ond huge mis­take, Chris turned left into Anawhata Road af­ter 6.30 hours los­ing about 20 more min­utes, but the track record was still reach­able.

“When I ar­rived at the bot­tom of the carpark just be­fore Anawhata Beach, I knew straight away that I was wrong here and I turned around. What else can you do?”

But the fif th big hill, the big­gest of the track, lead­ing to the sum­mit at Ku­ataika, got him com­pletely. He lost a lot of time. His pace and strength was di­min­ish­ing and he ex­pe­ri­enced his first and only en­ergy low right af­ter ar­riv­ing at the bot­tom at Wainamu Lake.

Chris man­aged to lose another 10 min­utes find­ing the track be­fore the beau­ti­ful wa­ter­falls.

The track record was dra­mat­i­cally gone, but Chris had promised him­self to com­plete the race with a very fast time re­gard­less of not hav­ing had much prepa­ra­tion.

At Bethels Beach more friends were cheer­ing for him and his pace­maker and friend Richard were ready to get him over the last two hills and 15km.

“It was good fi­nally see­ing my friends af­ter so long – it felt like ages. They gave me back my smile and mo­ti­vated me a lot. With­out them and Richard I would have slowed down a lot at the end!”

Chris com­pleted the whole Hil­lary Track in tears of hap­pi­ness at 4.23pm, with a fin­ish time of an in­cred­i­ble 10.23 hours. Had he not lost those 45-min­utes ear­lier in the run, he would have run the sec­ond fastest time ever on that track. A very brave and strong per­for­mance – for a first ul­tra-marathon.

Af­ter the race Chris was happy and proud of his sup­port­ing team who did such an amaz­ing job, cheer­ing for him over the 10.23 hours.

“This run was epic and the hard­est thing I have ever done in my life. The Hil­lar y Track is the most beau­ti­ful track in New Zealand for me and I en­joyed ev­ery minute even though it got quite tough at the end.”

Af­ter­wards the whole team went to a friend’s place in Muri­wai to en­joy a well-de­served bar­be­cue.

Chris is a mo­ti­va­tional coach and per­sonal trainer at Al­ti­tude Fit­ness in New­mar­ket. He be­lieves there will be more chal­lenges com­ing up, but more im­por­tantly wants to in­spire oth­ers to push their lim­it­sas well.

Run­ning the Hil­lary Track was the hard­est thing Chris has ever

done in his life.

Chris [fourth on right] with his sup­port team at theMuri­wai fin­ish.

Ex­hausted in Muri­wai: Chris com­pleted the Hil­lary Track with a time of 10.23 hours.

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