Relatively early on November 11th saw me sitting on the veranda of the lovely historic Laurel Bank House just outside Queenstown, drinking coffee, eating my fruit and granola, and contemplating the next 4 hours or so of the hard running of the Queenstown Marathon. It is hard to imagine a more beautiful setting than here for a run; Queenstown is a resort town in Southern New Zealand, famous for hiking, skiing, mountain biking, jet boats, bungee jumping, and anything else remotely related to being outside.

The course was next to stunning clear alpine lakes on hard gravel trails with views everywhere of snow-capped mountains. I had been wanting to do Queenstown Marathon for years and was ready just after I did my first Marathon in Noosa back in 2019, after a few years Covid delay I was here and ready to hit the trails.

Courtesy of how far South Queenstown is, the race starts at 8:30, so luxurious, no trying to force a meal down at 3 AM for this one!

Fueling your body is a huge part of finishing long events like this. In that vein, I had a big carb-filled meal at a delicious local cafe, Frank’s, last night. The hope is that the big meal and granola would give my body battery enough charge to make it most of the way with decent blood sugar left. I had a few gels in case but my stomach doesn’t like more than 2 or 3. I didn’t want a repeat of my previous Marathon where my blood sugar didn’t keep up, it was a four-lap race and I had to ask for directions for the fourth loop!

At last, it was time to go, we dodged all the road closures and I was dropped at the beautiful Millbrook Estate. Like most of Queenstown, this area is stunning, surrounded by mountain ranges, green fields, crystal clear water, and birds calling – pretty much the theme for the entire run. (A note for future events, close by the start may not be close if the roads are closed…).

Looking around the thousands of entrants I wondered about their background, were they marathon regulars, was this their first run, did anyone else travel internationally, from Auckland, was I slower, was I faster, remember to stretch…

The announcers kept things interesting talking to people and answering some of my questions. One woman had been doing a Marathon in every country and was finishing here, and quite a few from Brisbane, Toowoomba, Auckland, Christchurch, Europe, Japan, Korea and various other Asian countries. It is interesting how these events attract people from all over, the owners at Laurel House said around 15000 people were descending on Queenstown for the weekend. For a city with a population of around 50000 people that is a lot!

And we were off – the usual slow shuffle of a few thousand people through start gates then straight onto hard-pack trails to beautiful Arrowtown. Great motivation from lots of people cheering while relaxing over breakfast; I looked enviously at big plates of scrambled eggs and pancakes, post-run rewards 😀

My training seemed to be working, at 21km I was still feeling fresh, I even recorded part of a podcast into my phone. Sadly the recording was mostly gulping for air, but the idea was there.

The course is fantastic, it tracks around Lake Hayes, with lots of cuttings through the forest, flocks of birds, nice towns and historic sites and Willow trees reflecting on the water; there are plenty of distractions from your legs. 40km is a long way to run, a beautiful course like this just made it so much easier.

My mind kept wondering; like in all endurance events it was a mix of; can I go a bit faster, will I blow up if I do? Why didn’t I train more? Love pushing like this! Please can it end so the pain will stop? Can’t wait for the next one, when is it? I need to check the calendar…

About halfway through a French woman next to me suddenly cried out, Merde! I thought she must have sprained something but even worse, she had picked up the wrong packet for her food, no gels only some electrolyte powder! I couldn’t imagine how frustrating that would feel, all that training and then being let down by a quick mistake on the day. Luckily the drink stations did have some small snacks, hopefully, she made it.

I was getting hungry around when a Marathon starts to get really tough, 30km’ish, so I tried one of these snacks – a part of a Musashi energy bar. I know the cardinal rule of nothing new on race day, and I broke it, and I suffered; my stomach did not like it! A good reminder. After that point the course started getting harder, it was following along next to the Shotover river with a pretty good headwind, rising temperature and I needed a bathroom. That bar had overcome my half a Gastro-Stop in the morning and I had runners-trots! It was only a couple of minutes but at the 35km mark I just could not get my rhythm back.

The last 5km were really hard, the course was traversing around Queenstown Bay and the icy water looked so much more inviting than slogging along this path! Lots of people lining along the path cheering on, it really helps. Finally, I went past the 1km go mark and hit the accelerator. The end is up a fairly steep, short climb, and I seemed to still have enough in my legs to pass lots of people.

And then the relief of the finish line.

My time was 4:24:18, I had wanted to get under 4:20 but this was trails, not roads, and not really flat, I am pretty happy with it.

Will I ever do another one? I don’t think I am willing to devote another 4-5 months, Half Marathons, trail Runs, bike tours and randonneuring will do it, there is just too much else to fit it.

Now, where was that New Zealand Sounds to Sounds ride site again? A 1500km Brevet from the North to the South tip of NZ South Island sounds awesome.

For the moment it was off for some refreshments then up to Aoraki, Mount Cook, tomorrow for some hiking and relaxing.

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain Calories Burned
An absolutely beautiful course on the , very not flat, trails near the lakes around Queenstown. It felt good until the last 8 km , then life got really hard 😀. I’m happy with the time, it’s slower than my last one , but that was flat and on bitumen. Interesting looking at the splits, I was on target at around 5:49ish until 37km , then it went down by I never really recovered from 2-3 mins lost at a comfort break. Official time 4:23:17. This was going to be my last one, the training is all consuming for about 4 months, after doing I’m wondering when I can squeeze another one in… Moderate rain, 13°C, Feels like 13°C, Humidity 88%, Wind 2m/s from ESE - by

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