It takes place in August every year and is a good bridge between Xterras and the bigger mountain races like Jumbo Holdsworth TMR and Aorangi Undulator. It has had a proud list of well known runners in the region and is part of the wilderness running community of the region.
This year we had a new winner..Sam Hansby. Read on for his race recap
I’d bought some Hoka One One shoes after a shocking last run with my old Asics. They were pretty much sandals by the end of it and my hip was very sore from the little cushioning left in the shoe and the amount of jarring going on with each step. Unfortunately, the Hoka’s arrived too late and in the wrong size so I was standing at the start of the Mukamuka Munter in my old Asics (which I’d thrown out and had to find in the bin containing a failed fish-chowder meal from one of my flatmates). At least it was a beautiful day, little wind and the sun was out. We set off from the Wainuiamata Coast and headed towards the Mukamuka Valley. Martin McCrudden and Dean Ford led off with a fast pace which didn’t suit my pace with it being slower than them so it made sense when they kept getting further and further ahead. I was running with Alex Jones and Josh Campbell. We kept up a steady 4.10 pace until we hit the valley in question, the Mukamuka, where the terrain changed from a pleasant gravel to an unwelcome and uneven grassy surface. Before long though, Josh and I (Alex had dropped off) were running along a rocky river-bed heading up into the mountains. We caught Martin near the top of the valley where we were to meet Mt Matthew’s ridge. He looked to be dealing with some distressed muscles after running the Wellington Road Running Champs the day before. I remember thinking “Well, that’s just silly, running a road race the day before running 32km in the mountains. I’m pretty sure that’s not the advice a running coach would give”. The day before it, I’d watched three movies and started a TV series called “The Looming Tower” which I recommend giving a watch, really good show. Later in the day, I found out Josh also competed in the road race as did a few others. So silly. I managed to reach the ridge ahead of Josh and Martin to tackle a painfully steep descent into the Orongoronga Valley and River. The hip didn’t like this downhill not one bit but the rest of my body enjoyed it and I made good time getting down where I was greeted by marshal, Dave Allen. He let me know that I was just two minutes behind Dean. I wasn’t feeling that great so I left that piece of information in peace and grabbed a snickers bar from my pack. The next 10 or so kilometres followed the Orongorongo River on an undulating track towards the coast before turning down Catchpool Valley. This was a painful section for me but my stomach had started the process of breaking down the snickers bar from earlier and I was keeping up a good pace because of it. However, I continued to listen out for the footsteps of Josh or Martin or anyone else in fact. With about 3km to go, I came across a cramping Dean. Selfishly, I was delighted to see him since it meant I would move into first place which is my favourite place. I asked if he was OK and I’m pretty sure he replied with a ‘yes’ so I carried on with some recently discovered energy. The track petered out to an asphalt road which we followed for the last 1.5km to the Catchpool visitor centre to finish. I stole a look behind me and was pleasantly surprised to see no one close by. Just as I started to relax a little, I heard that horrible sound of someone else’s footsteps. “Oh bother” I thought as I took a glance back towards the sound. Oh bother indeed, Josh was behind me and seemed to be catching me. I used my last kick of speed while thinking about the newly made Mukamuka Munter trophy and managed to hold Josh off to finish with a smile on my face. Not just because I had won but because it was a great race following a fun track with really nice people. But the winning helped form a lot of the smile.
And Rachael Shakleton was winner in the womans race.
Big thanks to all the race organisers who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to put on such a true wilderness run! The race had a great range of different scenery and challenges from coastal run, to river boulder hopping, bush bashing, steep descents, and beautiful native bush tracks….and what’s more…it’s a circuit! It was definitely as hard as everyone said it would be but that just made the sausage and beer at the end more satisfying. I will definitely be back next year!
Link to results: