Blenheim, Marlborough, South Island
05.09.2009 - 05.09.2009 55 °F
SkeeterVM again. We woke up at 6 this morning to eat a quick breakfast at our super cool hotel, the Marlborough Vintners Hotel--a series of pod-like suites set in the middle of a vineyard--and get to the start of our 1/2 marathon for registration. As it turned out, the St. Clair Estate is just two miles from our hotel so we were the first ones to arrive for the race! We had an hour of walking around just to keep warm in the 40 degree morning chill. The heated gift shop lured us in, and we were particularly taken with a card that showed a group of men in suits captioned "We've perfected the art of making the possible impossible."
Gradually, the other runners arrived--all 1200 of them, and we lined up to begin our 13.1 mile run through the vineyard. The walkers started first, then 15 minutes later us "hybrids," then the runners. We'd decided to shift our registration to the hybrid category in case we wanted to walk for a bit, but we ended up running most of the race. The course was split so that one row of vines was marked for walkers and another for runners. When we asked an organizer which we should use if we were doing the race as hybrids, she said "Well, whatever you're doing at the time." The "Duh" was unspoken.
The St. Clair monk rang the start bell and we were off. The course was spectacular; one of the prettiest I have run. The route took us along the sparkling Wairua River with the Richmond Range smoky blue in the background, then back through rows of grapevines, leaves yellowing in the NZ autumn and lit by the bright sun. We ran on through pastures of curious cows, all lined up along the fence to watch us pass. They had that particularly bovine "what's the fuss?" expression. The temperature rose to 55 as we ran--staying just cold enough to make it perfect running weather--and the sun shone throughout despite the predictions of a sou'wester. (Any weather coming from the south here seems to be bad news as it's coming straight from Antarctica!) Thu finished the race at a good clip with me coming in a few minutes behind. Our reward? Bottles of St. Clair Sauvignon Blanc 2008, specially labeled "Long Lingering Finish: St. Clair congratulates you on completing the third Vineyard Half Marathon." I cracked open my bottle when we got back to the hotel and spent the afternoon sipping and reading in the sun on our small patio. The hotel cat came over to keep us company. A pretty perfect day.
View from our hotel