Libby Macgregor - Kerikeri Half Marathon Tour 2013

Being a novice runner and uneducated about words such as ‘undulating’ it was with a degree of trepidation that I approached the KeriKeri half marathon. 

Luckily I had two previous GR overseas marathon experiences under my belt, and as a seasoned, educated supporter I had a vague idea of what to expect and was looking forward to a weekend of the three ‘S’s – Socialising, Sun and Sore calves!

The weekend started off with a 3 hour jovial trip north leaving from Auckland although I chose not to opt for the chauffeur driven luxury van option as part of the package.  I would however strongly encourage anyone else to do this as it means a hassle free trip, fun banter due to great hosts Kerre Woodham and Gaz Brown and more importantly the opportunity to enjoy a tipple or three as part of the experience at which point the banter goes up a couple of notches.

After a quick lunch stop in Whangarei on the harbour for lunch and the sun forcing many of us to change into leg baring attire much to the horror of the locals,  the crew descended upon the picturesque Paihia with a fabulous 5 star hotel right on the beach.   More drinking (mandatory) and healthy eating (less mandatory) was followed by an informative lecture and associated terms and conditions for arriving on time or suffer the consequences…most of us hit the hay early as duly instructed.

An early start with clear heads, well most of us,  I was lucky enough to be transported to the start line in the official supporters vehicle which just so happened to be a Porsche.   My fellow runners were all in various states of mind – most were focused, some were hoping to do ‘PBs ‘ – no not a weird disease, a personal best I am told, and some of us just hoping to finish in one piece (me).

The course is truly stunning, only a small number of participants, and beautiful countryside.  It was a wonderful feeling to cross the finish line with my Dad, even though he has run many full and half marathons previously, this was the first time we had run together so it was incredibly special and I cried… just a little bit ;)

Once again the GR team (Gaz, Luc and friends and family of runners) pulled out a blinder and had setup a gazebo with drinks, homemade sandwiches and rolly things.   (rolly things = very technical running term to help you stretch out).      After winding down, and cheering the last of the runners in, we headed back to the hotel to change for a late lunch and celebrations at the amazing AkeAke Vineyard, Brilliantly fun with great company, new friends and lots and lots of stories.   Some of us chose to head back to the hotel and unwind, others decided the locals hadn’t seen enough of us so joined the after party  in the streets of KeriKeri.

A very slow start and leisurely breakfast the next day – and to top it off a lunch at yet another amazing location The Pear Tree,  before a relaxed and somewhat slow trip back home to Auckland where we all made it in one piece… or thereabouts.

KeriKeri was an emotional experience for me personally having lived away from NZ and my family for over 10 years,  it brought back memories of what makes New Zealand and New Zealanders so uniquely special.   Thanks Gaz, Luc, Kerre, Kiri, and friends for a wonderful weekend!!

Libby Macgregor