This is part 2 of Brittany’s Shotover Moonlight Mountain Marathon race report. To read part one, click here.
1:45pm: While I was mustering my courage, Hayley already started back on the trail. I didn’t tell Jess and Jason about my doubts as to whether or not I could finish. Whether they knew it or not, they were the reason I kept going. I knew I would regret it if they went off without me. What would I do for the next several hours while they were still racing? Did I really want my first DNF? And furthermore, even if I walked the rest of it, I knew, deep in my heart, that I was capable of this. So we climbed. There I was, bent over, hands on knees, hauling myself up this fire road. The afternoon was so hot, I had sweat literally pouring off my face. Every time we came to a little dip in the road, Jess and Jason would start to jog. I jogged with them the first couple of times, but then I literally could not will my legs to move any faster.
3:30pm: The Point, 1,000m: Utter relief. A swig of water. A mini pack of Jelly Bellys. Just. Keep. Moving. Legs stumbling down the steep slope, hands clutching the fence. Concentrating hard on every step, so that the mountain doesn’t throw me off. We follow the fence line along a goat track for what feels like a lifetime. At one point, we accidentally cross the fence, thinking the path goes off to the left, but it doesn’t. As I’m hauling my exhausted body over the fence for a second time, headache pounding loudly, I begin to laugh. Then Hayley begins to laugh. And suddenly the two of us are in a fit of giggles at the absurdity of it all. The rugged mountains stretch around and engulf us. There are skulls of goats on the goat trail, we joke “they can’t say ‘no goats were harmed in the making of this trail,’ here lies Billy, he was a robust mountain goat but no match for the Shotover Moonlight Marathon.
At one point, we turn around backwards, still giggling, and attempt to walk down the mountain that way to see if it’s any less painful. By the time we reach the river again, 484m, our minds are on one track: get in the river. get in the river now. We stand, then sit in the river, cupping handfuls of water onto our faces and into our mouths. It’s pure bliss. And a good thing too, because coming out of here it’s time for one last climb.
4:45pm: Sefferstown Hill, 650m: The river does it’s job and reinvigorates me, it gives my legs the strength they need for this final climb. I actually, for the first time in awhile, feel pretty good. I know we are close to the end now, just another 10kms, and my spirits are high. At the aid station at the bottom of the other side of Sefferstown, a volunteer tells us: good news! it’s only 5kms to the finish, and there are no more hills.
Both of these things are lies. There’s one more hill, it’s not a mountain, but it’s big enough after nearly 9 hours on your feet. There are somewhere around 8 river crossings, some thigh deep. Jason’s adductor starts to spasm. While I’m waiting for him, my right glute starts to spasm. Again, all I can do is laugh at our situation. Muscles spasming in the river, 4kms from the finish line. Too bad the river is flowing the wrong way – if we fall in the river, it will take us backwards.
It takes us another 1:15 minutes to finish, we stumble across the line around 6pm. My glutes completely stop working, it takes every last bit of willpower and concentration to run the final kms. The four of us step across the line together – just over 9 hours after we started – and then drink the best, hardest earned, beer of our lives.