Porirua Grand Traverse 2019 – 18k ‘mountain run’

Well I didn’t actually know if the race would start given the weather the night before – alongside our clocks going back marking the end of daylight savings, winter decided to let us know he was waiting for us around the corner.  The torrential rain and wind overnight made for thoughts of running a dry and fast course disappear out the window, so it was about preparing for mud, slippery tracks and battling the elements.

The PGT had its largest number of entrants ever, with 1000+ entrants over the multiple events.  It was somewhat different starting a race so late as 1030 in the morning too, but worked well as I was able to throw in a 10k warm up from home and arrive at the start line warm and ready to go!

I was super impressed on arrival with the organisation – given the multiple events being run during the day, everything was so well organised, briefing was on-point, great toilets (great toilets are a must for any trail runner right?) and the mood of competitors was chirpy.

Starting off saw us run through a couple of streets and then hitting the trail into Rangatuhi Park, before coming to the bush track at the start of the Colonial Knob walkway.  Despite having lived in Wellington now for 6 months, it was my first time running through the entire piece of this amazing trail so I was both wowed by the magic of having this on our doorstep, and then kicking myself for not having explored this piece of paradise until now!

Hitting the Utiwai Track was interesting (remember to read the course description before you run next time) as we came across a few mountain bikers coming up the trail towards runners, making for a couple of near misses and close calls with trees!

The bush and mountain bike trails were awesome, and with the previous nights downpour, made for slippery trails that no doubt had some impact on slower course times than previous years.

Much to my surprise, (I must have taken a longer route through the Utiwai Track perhaps (?)) a female runner whom I had reigned in after the first km magically appeared ahead of me as we climbed the hundred+ stairs up Colonial Knob to the clearing at the top. There was quite an atmosphere of sweaty steamy runners clashing with the mist and fog along with the huffing and puffing of the short but steep climb to the top.

Hitting Pikarere Farm was magic.  It reminded me of being back in home town Dunedin running around the neighbours farm with cows, paddocks and large open spaces.  I had a couple of the big black beasts partially on a trail ahead of me so I kept my head down and made sure there was no eye contact (my running top was red after-all 😉 and a previous trail run where I was chased by a cow has always made me slightly intimidated ever since!).

Spectacular photography courtesy of Michelle Van Looy

Making my way skipping and bouncing down the grass paddocks was fun and then onto the coastline heading north-west along the beach tracks for about 1.5km.  As we all know though, what goes down must go up, and sure enough the long haul for approx. 2 km back up the farm didn’t disappoint!  Getting to the top without having to walk was a small fist-pump moment, and rewarding knowing there was only about 3k to go to the finish line. 😊

The epic views made up for the relentless climb, with an overall course elevation of approx. 900 m over the 18k distance;

Another spectacular pic courtesy of Michelle Van Looy
And yes……thanks Michelle Van Looy yet again

Whether its an ultra marathon or a short distance road race, seeing the finish line is always an awesome feeling, knowing you have achieved what you have and given it your all.  The finish line for the PGT was back at the start in the atrium area of the Whitireia Polytech, timing chips recorded your race and announcers welcomed you as you crossed the finish.

I ended my trail with a 10k cool down around the streets of Porirua, muddy, sweaty but stoked that I had just completed a gnarly wee trail run right in the heart of Porirua.  What a cool place we live!!!!

The PGT entry included a free lunch, prepared by the team within the on-site café. The food was divine and coffee not too bad either,  and the staff super friendly despite the long queues of hungry athletes waiting for their cooked lunch. Huge thanks to the many sponsors who made this race as epic as it was, with biggest thanks going to Gareth Thomas and the WUU2K team for providing me an entry to the event.  Its definitely one I will be lining up to do next year.