Running ridges above Wanaka, dodging clouds and chasing rainbows, beech forests, mountain peaks, glacial lakes, all mythical, magical, Kiwi memories.

 With huge stretches of rugged landscapes, golden plains with more livestock than humans my transition to New Zealand felt like a passage to middle‑earth.  Coming from 3 months in the Himalayas, my adjustment to trail running in New Zealand was no high fantasy adventure film as my body struggled to capitalize on its scenery in the early days.
My patience was tested as overtraining symptoms tarnished my ability to steadily make fitness gains upon arrival. Voices cajoling me to push on were undeniable when  mental and physical debilitating fatigue was catching up with me leading to deep inward thinking and questioning.  Positive self- talk with reminders that being fit enough to run 50km with towering elevation gain doesn’t mean that I  have to do it every day, proper recovery time, flexible thinking, and self care were  key to building back self efficacy on New Zealand trails.  On the up side, I spent more time therapeutically reflecting and writing. A decrease in time on the trails, led to the launch of Mountains of My Mind after many months of contemplation. I knew I needed to listen to the inner voice that suggested I would never feel perfectly prepared to expose myself to the world wide web. I knew I needed to listen to my body to feel healthy on the trails again.
NZ’s misted mountains, cascading waterfalls, emerald fjords, and primitive fern-filled forests led to  heaps of amazing trails. The north island’s volcano country with magnificent views of true blue lakes that fill volcanic craters provided well marked trails with footing that felt like red carpet.  That said,  the further south I travelled the more the variety of  trails in landscapes from lush green forests to soaring mountains appealed.
As a visually impaired trail runner, trail access can be an obstacle in itself. New Zealand’s manifold trail options seemed endless; however getting myself to trailheads proved be a significant challenge toying with my will to accept the loss of autonomy that is driving.  Different from Europe where most often I could hop on trails from any doorstep or easily trot to a trailhead, more planning was necessary as well as, more time and cost getting transport to trails. Trails in and around Te Anau, Wanaka and Queenstown were plenty however the hard to reach NZ backcountry will have to wait to be explored with someone who can help get me there and ensure I do not miss any right turns  or  stumbled into a fantasy world of rings and hobbits.
Though I struggle with the loss of the freedom of driving, I have explored more of Middle Earth  on foot because of it. Running along the ridge line between Mt Alpha and Roy’s Peak high above Wanaka, dodging clouds and chasing rainbows around Lake Hawea, the Kepler beech forests, mountain peaks, river and lake shores to the stunning alpine scenery, views of glacial lakes, while running through  tussock and herb fields of the Routeburn Track  have all combined for seemingly mythical, yet certainly magical, Kiwi memories.
A HUGE shout out to  Wild Things Trail Running Club as their website was a HUGE help in my planning to ensure I hit some of best trail running in New Zealand. I have briefly described some of the trails I ran, included a personal picture and linked within the interactive map above. 

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  1. chris councell says:

    So glad that your recovery time allowed you to launch “mountains of my mind” – so inspired by your writing & your ability to bomb up & down mountains…!

    • mountainsofmymind says:

      Thanks so much Chris! What has come from adversity, including meeting friends like you, inspires me to do more than I ever imagined.
      I look forward to our trails crossing again. Happy, healthy trails ahead x