Sunday, April 1, 2012

Half-Marathon in Hokianga. . .and that's not the 'half' of it!

    Saturday I completed my first ever half-marathon in Hokianga, New Zealand! Due to a previous back injury that was aggrivated during my training, I reluctantly resigned myself to the fact that I would not be able to run and thus re-registered as a walker earlier this week. Surprisingly enough however, I was feeling great on race day and was actually able to run a majority of the 22KM/ 13.1 miles with almost no pain!

The morning was cool and drizzly, perfect for running, and the scenery was unparallelled as we made the trek from Rawene to Opononi, where the river meets the sea. 
 Were that the extent of my experience this weekend, the blog post would stop here.  But the half-marathon isn't the "half" of it!  The journey that we endured just getting to Hokianga (and back) has all the makings of a good comedy! Even as I write this I have to chuckle.  Bear with me; I'll make this as short and sweet as possible.

Goal #1:  Get There!
The Hokianga Harbour and surrounding small towns (including Rawene and Opononi) is about a 2 hour drive northwest of Whangarei up on the northwest coast of New Zealand. In an effort to avoid to getting up at 4AM to make the journey to Hokianga on race day, my running buddy Julie and I decided to drive up the night before and stay at her house in a small town called Broadwood.  Broadwood is across the harbour from Rawene, and when the car ferry is running, the route only take about 30 minutes.

Unfortunately, with one wrong turn, what should have taken us 1.5 hours, turned into a 4 hour escapade, navigating through rural northland New Zealand on roads unidentified on our outdated map!  To complicate matters, we were basically out of gas, running on fumes.  Of course when we finally found a TINY rural town along our path, the petrol station wasn't even open.  The only other human beings we found graciously gave us directions to the next major town where we could hit the highway and find ourselves on the map again. :-)  Whew! 

As the nighttime sky dropped a blanket of darkness upon us, I pleaded for God's mercy and provision, praying that He would extend the life of our gas/petrol and bring us safely to Broadwood.  We eventually made our way to the highway and were on our way to Julie's house.   Goal #1 complete: We're in Broadwood!

Goal #2: Get Good Sleep!
Upon reaching the home nestled in the woods, we were greeted by dogs, cats, chickens and . ..a goat!  We thanked the Lord for His protection and set out to accomplish goal #2.

Just moments after dozing off to sleep we realized, "Uh oh, the car ferry to Rawene probably isn't open at 6AM on a Saturday morning!  Ugh. . .We're going to have to drive completely around the harbour to get there. . and that takes 2 hours!"  Can you guess what time the alarm was set for now?  Yep, 4:00 AM!  So much for avoiding waking up before the rest of creation!  By now, it is 10:30PM and time to sleep, at least for a few hours!

Goal #3: Get from Broadwood to Rawene!
4:00AM finds us stumbling out of bed and hitting the road, once again trying to navigate in the darkness on with twist-turvy mountains roads with no names. Keep in mind that there is literally no light, save our car headlights. .. and we're still nearly out of gas, because of course there are no petrol stations within many miles. 

Apparently we were not alone in the pre-dawn hours - the possums, bunnies, hedgehogs, dogs and cows were out in full force. Thankfully we managed to dodge them all and finally arrived in Rawene in plenty of time to check in for the half-marathon.  What a relief!
Now, wouldn't you know that after all that, the city of Rawene had actually opened an early car ferry at 6AM for the race participants!  Go figure!

Goal #4: Survive the Hokianga Half-Marathon!
Completed in 2 hrs. 30 minutes!

If you don't have a grin on your face by now, just wait.

Goal #5: Get home and recover!
Now you'd think that after a good stretch, solid feed, and a quick chat with fellow runners, we'd set out for home.  Instead, we decide it is necessary to head back to Julie's home all the way back in Broadwood (this time we took the car ferry across the harbour!) and . . .pack the car with household items to take back to town in Whangarei. An extra hour is spent jamming the car, squeezing a little bit of everything into every available nook and cranny in the car.  Who needs to see out the windows?  That's overrated! And just for kicks, we also have to bring 2 cats and 2 fish home with us!

Guess who was in charge of cuddling with 2 fish on the 2- hour trek home through twisty-turvy mountain roads?  Needless to say, my lap was saturated with fish tank water!

We finally made it home to Whangarei, hot showers, flat roads, daylight, cell-phone service, petrol stations and most-importantly.  .. people!  Home sweet home!  Goal #5 Complete!
 Thank you Lord for the adventure, for my friend Julie and for your provision along every step.  Great memories are made in the most creative ways and I thank you for the reality that these are now part of my history. 


  1. Reading your beautiful blog today. This post did make me laugh and also praise God for your sweet spirit and your friendship with Julie. Then I read your last post about pruning and it made me cry. I have felt/feel the same things as I have gone from being American to being Kiwi in these last 3.5 years--and from being a being a pastor to a pastor's wife. My heart aches for my family in America, especially as they struggle with illness--but I am so grateful to KNOW that God has called us here and because of that we are blessed. So glad you are here too and think you are doing an amazing job of offering Christ in Whangarei!!!

    1. Thank you, Bonnie-
      It is a gift to have you here in New Zealand as a fellow American, but more importantly as a sister in Christ! See you soon,