Last week I entered the Routeburn Classic trail run to be held on 25 April 2015 – and was then promptly diagnosed with pneumonia! I’m not sure if it was a reaction to the thought of trail running 32km over an alpine pass or just a case of bad timing. Either way it has been a set back to what was already an ambitious training plan. I’m slowly on the improve now, but it has been a difficult one to overcome.
The Routeburn Classic is an annual trail running event that covers the distance of the Routeburn Track in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. Entries are limited to 350 participants. The track is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks and is set up with well established huts for a 3 day, 2 night tramp. I’ve walked the majority of the track over several visits to the region including a failed attempt at the complete walk as a result of late season snow falls closing the track.
The track is one of my favourites with stunning mountain views and alpine scenery the entire way. It is situated on an alpine pass between the road into Milford Sound and the township of Glenorchy where much of The Lord of the Rings was filmed. As the crow (or helicopter) flies, it is is a short distance from Queenstown to the official track head at the Divide. However, to get there by land requires a lengthy drive via the township of Te Anau. There have been many outlandish proposals to put in tunnels, cable cars and the like in order to create an access route to Milford Sound which have fortunately all fallen flat so far leaving this as an unspoilt wilderness area.
The track itself climbs steadily from the Divide all the way to the Harris Saddle. The side trip to Key Summit (fortunately not in the running event) is spectacular and offers 360 degree views of the area for those looking for only a short walk. In the trail run we will need to cover the 12km or so to Mackenzie Hut in 2.5 hours to make the cut off. From there, the climb is tough to the top of the ridge before heading down hill.
I’ve done nothing over about 16-17km before and race wise my longest is the 14km City to Surf in Sydney. It’s fair to say I have a challenge ahead of me – especially given the condition my lungs are in right now!