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Welcome to my blog which I hope to develop with some interesting material on ultra running both on the trails and road including reports on races and interesting training runs, views on kit and equipment as well as anything else I find of interest. I love running for adventure, opportunity and well being. Enjoy!

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Day 53: Riverton to Bluff - THE FINISH :o)


Start: Riverton (2,988km)
Finish: Bluff (3,054km)
Distance for the day: 68km
Cumulative distance: 3,054km
Distance to Bluff: 0km

At a 1601hrs this afternoon, 53 days 9 hours and 1 minute after setting from Cape Reigna, I finally completed my long journey down the Te Araroa trail, arriving in Bluff – lands end on the southern tip of New Zealand’s South Island. Gathered there waiting were my crew, Mark & James, my wife Gemma, my mum and my mother-in-law, Hilary. Damiano from the Storyteller Collective was there capturing the moment on photo and video, just has he done so magnificently throughout the expedition. They sprayed me with champagne and we danced around the landmark yellow finger post like we’d just won the lottery. There were bystanders around too, probably wondering what the heck was going on, but none of us gave a hoot. It was raw emotion for me; all my heart and soul, sweat and tears, had been put into realizing this moment, and it almost happened too suddenly to take it all in. I’ve been a robotic state for most of the time since I started – in my own little bubble – and I think it’s going to take several days to snap out of it. My body is also going to want to know what the heck is going on when I don’t run tomorrow; so I think some wind down jogging/ walking is going to be important.

So how did the day unfold? Well in the usual manner really. A 5am alarm call felt a wee bit harsh as we had all been up late last night – I only got in from the trail at 9.30pm – but there was a nice buzz in the air from the thought of the finish. It was exciting to think about the day ahead, but that doesn’t make it any easier to get out the campervan door with so much cumulative fatigue in my legs, not to mention the mental tiredness. But once out, and 10 minutes or so up the road, everything started to warm up and then we were away. The sky this morning was incredible, the colors rich and colorful, before the sun eventually rose from the sea and brought the day to life. Once through Riveton, the route was straight on to the beach for 25km around a nicely curved, sandy bay, and it was a lovely spell for solitude and reflection which was exactly what I needed after many weeks of relentless and intense running. The running was far from easy with a mixture of sand and shingle, but I felt strong from thoughts of the finish and kept moving on at decent pace.

From the end of the beach it was on to the road all the way through to the outskirts of Bluff, skirting to the west of Invercargill, most of it on the shoulder of Highway 1. It wasn’t all that much fun and the tarmac was unforgiving underfoot, causing further soreness in my feet and ankles. But the soreness wasn’t really occupying my thoughts, it was more occupied with thoughts about finishing. I had music on the go to help switch off, but it seemed to bring on regular emotional streaks where I was breaking into tears. I’ve said before that this run has worn me down and exposed my inner emotions, and there were so many examples of that today.

By lunchtime at 1.15pm I had 50km under my belt, and thoughts of a mid-afternoon finish were starting to get muted. I didn’t really stop long for lunch, I just wanted to get the job done, so it was straight back on the road through to the outskirts of Bluff. So all that was left was a 7km stretch of trail around the Bluff peninsula to the Stirling Point fingerpost, the official finish to the trail. The first 3km of this section was rough running through long grass from marker post to marker post, but then I hit the millennium trail, and nicely graded gravel track leading all the way to the finish. It was a real blast. No tomorrow to save myself for, nothing to lose, no reason to hold back. But no time to really prepare myself for stopping; that’s the bit which is going to feel very strange.

We’re now sitting in the communal room of Bluff campsite, sharing photos, drinking cider and beer, and starting to reflect and share the memories. Where do you start? I’ve spent 53 days reflecting, and now I need time to reflect. Work that one out - very strange. But one thing I know I will be doing for sure is taking a week’s holiday with my wonderfully supportive wife. I feel like the luckiest man alive….

It’s hardly suffice, but just initially I want to say a massive thank you to my incredible support guys, James and Mark. They have given up nine weeks of their life to support me with this expedition and words can’t express how grateful I am to them both for what they have done. It is with great sadness that this team will split up from tomorrow – it really has been an incredible team effort – I have just been fronting it.

I hope to share some of my reflections about the expedition as a whole over the coming days. I too don’t want it to stop, so I will get a few more posts out.

And finally a big thank you to everyone who has followed my journey and provided so many supportive comments and feedback. I hope you have enjoyed it all as much as I have.


Sunrise on the Beach (credit: Damiano Levati/ The North Face)


The day is alive! On the beach.... (credit: Damiano Levati/ The North Face)

Focused on the final day (credit: Damiano Levati/ The North Face)



Finished! (credit: Damiano Levati/ The North Face)

The team celebrating at the finish (credit: Damiano Levati/ The North Face)






38 comments:

Steven Morris said...

CONGRATULATIONS JEZ !!!! I'm up early having Weetabix and muesli to celebrate your achievement and raise my cup of tea to you! You must feel so elated to have finished what has been a monumental feat. Say hi to your terrific support crew of Mark and Jamie and give our love to Gem and Hilary. They must all be so proud of you. Look forward to seeing you on your return and hearing all about your great adventure. Well done from Steve and Nicky.

skirunner said...

great stuff Jez!

tamyka said...

You're looking pretty skinny at the end of it all! Congratulations on an amazing accomplishment and even moreso on a great journey - and thanks for Sharon it with us.

tamyka said...

Oops. That makes more sense without autocorrect - it should've been 'sharing'.

John Kynaston said...

Congratulations Jez.

What an amazing achievement and one that you should be rightly proud of.

Enjoy your holiday and give yourself time let in all sink in.

PS ... I'd still love to interview you for a whw podcast some time!!

Anonymous said...

Have followed your blog what a fantastic achievement very well done!!!n may

Anonymous said...

Amazing journey and fantastic reporting. I've never followed a blog so closely - as so many people have said before you've been inspirational. Look forward to hearing how you recover from such a long endurance session.

Hugh Marsden said...

Fantastic achievement Jez - have really enjoyed reading your blog and its become a morning ritual this last week - refreshing the pc screen waiting to read the latest episode. I would say put your feet up but you're already mentioning running again... Naw...have a holiday you deserve it!!

Anonymous said...

Well done Jez et al!!!! Amazing achievement. It's been exhilarating to follow over the 53 days. Look forward to catching up. The Bemands

Daimon Walker said...

This is incredible. An amazing effort and what a fantastic team behind you. Congratulations. Inspirational. Thank you for sharing your adventure.

Anonymous said...

Well done Jez!!!!!! Fantastic achievement bet that beer tasted good!!!!! Enjoyed the journey through your blogs... Fabulous....... Eunice

Daniel Wastell said...

Well done Jez, we're so thrilled, we've followed every twist and turn, every high and low, a few tears from Sarah nearly everyday (well she is now heavily pregnant) and for our benefit did not want it to end as your blog was so absorbing, you desrve to though and finish in style you did. Well done Jez, a landmark moment in yor live and I thank you for allowing us to share in it. Love to everyone out there with you, Dan

Anonymous said...

So special to be there at the end of your monumental run. We danced and sang to our hearts content. Well done Jez you really are a braveheart!
OPM Jennie

Feetus.co.uk said...

It's been amazing following your blog over the last 53 days. Totally inspirational. I bet it won't sink in for a long time, just what an accomplishment this really is.

Pat yourself on the back!

Mike W said...

Congratiulations on your epic journey of a lifetime ,but I am sure in the future you will probably beat this one ,amazing .Also well done to the crew ,will be really interested to hear it all first hand when you get back .Well don . Mike W

Bethan Griffiths said...

Magnificent achievement Jez, superb! And thank you for sharing it with us. Enjoy your honeymoon. Love from Team Griff. xx

Davie said...

Congratulations, Jez. A great achievement and now a legend. Enjoy your holiday. Have you entered the Fling?

David said...

Unbelievable! Congratulations, what an epic achievement! Great work by the support and blog updating, this has been my favourite running story/blog over the last few years, easily! Thanks for sharing, Jez; same again next year?!

Boaz Cohen said...

We followed your progress every day with hope and admiration.

You Showed us all, the meaning of determination.

Warm Greetings and honor for the amazing achievement!

Boaz Cohen, Israel

Nigel and Nicky said...

Inspirational ! A massive Congratulations . So pleased you made it safely and intact . And equally massive congratulations to the support team Mark and James who helped to make it possible . Hopefully you can all now relax and enjoy yourselves ! We can't wait to see you all and hear all about it .

Peter Duggan said...

Top stuff, Jez! :-)

Anonymous said...

Each morning we've pored over Jez's latest blog offering whilst tucking into our porridge - marvelling at what he has achieved during the hours of Scotland's night:- 12..... 15....... 18 hours days, the Cook Strait crossing, the Richmond Range, the additional 30 km detour. The list goes on and on, day after day of it. An amazing accomplishment, and all credit to his hardcore team, Mark and Jamie, who were unstinting in their support throughout - supplemented by the stalwart ladies to bring the challenge to a successful conclusion. "Bravo!". MtM & Jo

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Jez! It has been awesome to follow your journey on foot through NZ, you are a real inspiration. Enjoy your well deserved holiday. Thanks, Piia, Finland

Ant said...

Many congratulations on an astonishing achievement! What next??

Cheers,

Ant

john stobo said...

Congratulations Braggy,
Truly inspirational.
Stobes

Anonymous said...

MASSIVE CONGRATULATIONS JEZ, MARK AND JAMIE! WHAT AN EPIC ADVENTURE! I'M SURE YOU WILL ALL HAVE INCREDIBLE LIFELONG MEMORIES OF THE PAST 53 DAYS.
WE'VE LOVED THE BLOG AND ALL THE BEAUTIFUL PICTURES, AS MANY PEOPLE HAVE MENTIONED, YOUR JOURNEY HAS BEEN AN INSPIRATION.
HAVE A WELL DESERVED REST ALL OF YOU AND WE CAN'T WAIT TO HEAR ALL ABOUT IT IN PERSON!
MUCH LOVE GEM AND JANE

jim bean said...

Jez you are a hero, a legend, an inspiration. I am so so proud of you. Your determination, your focus and motivation throughout this journey has been unforgiving. I cannot wait to spend the next days, months, years reflecting with you on what you have just achieved. love your bean xxx

Mark garratt said...

Congratulations jez been an amazing journey Enjoiy the houlday .

Thomas said...

What an amazing achievement! Congratulations! That was truly outstanding and inspiring. I'm glad I was able to follow your journey via your blog. Thank you!

Sue and Antonio said...

CONGRATULATIONS JEZ!!! Wonderful.... very happy for you, Mark and Jamie. And many thanks for sharing this journey with us, we've loved following your progress to its very happy conclusion. Have a good rest! Love to you all.

Anonymous said...

You're SO cool! Amazing.... have loved following your epic journey. What a team. See you at the Fellsman?!?

Brian H said...

I followed your run from my couch in Chicago. Your mental strength has impressed me the most. Making your mind override your body every morning and vice versa really is inspiring. I think of you now when I don't feel like working out. Congratulations on the finish. Make sure you celebrate with a Speight's

Gerry & Sheila Topsom said...

Congratulations Jez - an Epic achievement by a unique person. It's been a privelege following your journey.

Ally Beaven said...

Congratulations Jez, a serious achievement!

You passed me as I had lunch in Anakiwa and I only just made it to Wanaka! Will have to get caught up on your blogs.

lucas said...

Well done, so inspiring!!!

Anonymous said...

Well done Jez, incredible achievement, not just with the running and paddling but to have also kept us all informed with a stunning live account of your journey is just phenomenal . For the last 53 days you made my 5:15 a.m alarm call so much easier as I could not wait for the latest instalment! Enjoy the recovery!!! Mark.

Will Thomas said...

Amazing Jez! What an inspiration. I have thoroughly enjoyed your journey from the first step to the last. Thank you for taking the time to document each day, so that we could share in this adventure.

Daniel Weston said...

Well done. I've enjoyed following your journey (haven't read all of it but some of it). I've also listened to you on Talk Ultra. Thank you for keeping us all so informed and thanks also to your support crew.