Queenstown Marathon had been on my ‘wish list’ for a while. I’m a sucker for a scenically beautiful running event and when it’s also located in a beautiful tourist town, that has heaps of other wonderful activities, I’m sold! I signed up for the Queenstown Marathon early in 2019, giving myself plenty of time to train (it’s held in November every year). Having a running event on my calendar also helps to motivate me to get out and train – especially through the winter months in New Zealand.
I’d only ran one marathon before – the Hawkes Bay Marathon in 2017 – and I finally felt up to training for my second! I incorporated more strength training this time and when the event day came it certainly paid off – as I finished feeling strong and with a personal best time of just over four hours.
The Queenstown Marathon is described as ‘flat out beautiful’ in all its promotional banners – but there was some 300 metres of elevation gain over the 42km (thankfully I’d done a lot of my training on Wellington’s hills, so the undulating course was fine for me – and just added interest).
The course was mostly on smooth, hard packed trails with only 30% on roads and took in the best highlights of the region including Millbrook, Arrowtown, Arrow River, Lake Hayes, Old Shotover Bridge, Twin Rivers trail, Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown Gardens.
Spring in New Zealand provides unpredictable weather conditions and I trained in sunshine, rain and wind, prepared for whatever the day had in store for us. On the morning of the event the rain was coming down steadily, but with the promise of it clearing up. I lined up with fellow runners for the shuttled buses to the start line. The bus ride (which took us from the finish line out to the start line) was full of runners eager to get out on the course. The windows of the bus quickly steamed up, with all the hot air we were expelling – and our wet clothing drying off! A passenger had to wipe the front windscreen on the bus, so that the driver could see out!
As we lined up at the start line the rain started to ease off and I stuffed my raincoat into my backpack.
Soon after passing through Arrowtown we were greeted with a rainbow – and on a downhill section to boot!
One of my favourite parts of the course was running around Lake Hayes and over the Old Shotover Bridge.
I spotted a fellow Wellington runner out on the course and we ran together for a few kilometres in the last quarter of the marathon. It was nice to have someone to chat to and to distract the mind from thinking about the aches and pains cropping up in the body near the end!
The last few kilometres of the course wound around the beautiful Queenstown Gardens and through the town. There were heaps of people cheering us on and up the final hill before crossing the finish line.
My husband and children were there, along with a friend who had ran the 10km course earlier in the morning.
I was so thrilled to beat my previous marathon time and loved every moment of the Queenstown marathon.
After the run I strolled back to our accommodation, with my family. I was ready for a relaxing bath and some rehydration!
The rain returned in the evening, but that didn’t stop my family playing some tennis in the rain – I tried to join in, but my legs were a little stiff!
The next day we walked down to the town, enjoying the scenery on the way…
And the best value for money activity in Queenstown… frisbee golf! We had never played this game before and playing it in such a beautiful location was the best possible introduction to the game!
In the evening we enjoyed a lovely dinner in a place near to where the Queenstown marathon started – Arrowtown. We dined at the old post masters house, ‘Postmasters Restaurant Arrowtown‘, which was absolutely lovely (and much more relaxing than running past it on the morning of the marathon!).
After an amazing weekend we flew back to Wellington and with my mind filled with training plans for the Tarawera Ultramarathon – just twelve weeks away… (blog post about that here!).