I’m so glad I made the decision to start my forties with a half marathon, as I haven’t looked back in the past two years – only forward to the next challenge. Thankfully New Zealand has an ever-growing array of organised races to participate in, with various distances and terrain. It’s fast becoming an addiction to scour the NZ Running Calendar website and choose my next race. It’s not just the running that appeals – but also the opportunity to get away somewhere new for a weekend and to run with like minded folks in brilliantly organised events, whilst enjoying beautiful scenery.
When I saw the Saint Clair Vineyard Half pop up at the beginning of the year I knew I had to run it! It combined two of my top loves, wine and running (plus the terrain was 90% off-road).
It’s extra fun when I take my family along with me and this time around we headed over on the ferry, from Wellington to Picton, for a night away in beautiful Marlborough (unfortunately our oldest daughter wasn’t able to join us, due to rehearsals for an upcoming production she’s participating in).
We sailed into the Marlborough Sounds on Friday evening, as the sun began to set.
I was quite glad to be in the tranquility of the Sounds, after a rather bumpy crossing over the Cook Strait (though I’ve experienced much, much worse in a southerly swell!). We managed to keep our stomachs together with plenty of fresh air out on deck!
Our accommodation for the Friday night was at the lovely ‘Scenic Hotel Marlborough‘, opposite Seymour Square, where I was to catch the 7.30am bus to the start line the next morning. We enjoyed a really lovely meal in the hotel restaurant, overlooking the square and its beautiful fountain, which glowed different colours. Sleep came quickly after – and morning soon after (a little too early considering the wine I’d enjoyed with dinner the night before!).
I left hubby and the children to slumber, whilst I headed off to the clock tower to await my transport to the start line.
I found another solo runner to make light conversation with on the bus ride to the vineyard. A lot of people had come in groups, making a ‘girls weekend’ of it (around two thirds of the total runners were female). It’s a fantastic venue to spend a weekend and the race organisers throw a post race party on the Saturday evening too!
Arriving at the vineyard, after a fifteen minute or so bus ride, the fresh autumn air and sunshine greeted us.
The autumn colours gave an extra sense of delight to the eyes and the blue sky over Marlborough (which it is well known for) didn’t disappoint, warming us up just in time for the 9am start.
The loop course ran through vineyards (literally, through rows of them!) and alongside a river, with mountain vistas on the horizon line.
Along the course there was various entertainment, and sweet treats, to keep the runners and walkers motivated and moving.
The terrain was 90% off road, mostly on grass. It was fun to run through the lines of autumn leafed vines, kicking up leaves as I ran. Fellow runners were all a friendly bunch, as they always are, and strong too! It was great to have some strong runners to keep pace with.
I struggled to keep my pace in the last few kilometres.
The temptation to walk, and admire the scenery at a more leisurely pace, was high, but fellow runners kept me moving. As I approached the last kilometre I was spurred on by a band playing at the end of one of the rows of vines!
From there on the crowd kept my legs moving and I was ecstatic to reach the finish and see my hubby and two youngest daughters there to cheer me on.
The atmosphere was amazing at the finish, with a beautiful area set up for folks to warm down, have a massage or even do some yoga. I finished in a good time, around my usual of under 1 hour 50 minutes.
The girls were happy to enjoy ice-cream and chill in this beautiful bell-tent!
The prize for crossing the finish line was a bottle of wine, instead of a medal, but I would have honestly ran it whatever the ‘prize’; as running across usually private land, in the gorgeous vineyard country of Blenheim, Marlborough, was a stunning treat. After picking up my bottle of finishers wine we headed off to the great Stadium 2000 Aquatic Centre, in Blenheim, for a family swim (I was very much in need of a good soak!).
We then drove to Picton, where we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon on the waterfront, before getting the ferry back to Wellington later that evening.
The girls enjoyed hanging around at the playground, riding on the little merry-go-round and a game of mini-golf.
We even squeezed in a short visit to the EcoWorld Picton Aquarium, before night fall. Our ferry departed around 7pm, arriving in Wellington close to 10pm. It was a lovely quiet ferry and a smooth sailing home on the InterIslander.
A very happy weekend all round!
Linking up with the fabulous Country Kids at Coombe Mill (where this week a large cardboard rowing box is made and taken over my lots of cute little pirates!);