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Keeping the mind and body ‘ultra’ healthy

“I run to keep depression away and to help me function as a normal human being. It takes me to one of my happy places that I can’t go to unless I am running. Off road running focuses the mind on the moment and there is no room for anything else but total concentration on where you will put your next foot.”

Proving you’re never too old to challenge yourself this Waikato DHB staff member ran his first marathon around Lake Rotorua just before 60, making him hungry for more.

Ross Dewstow, Waikato DHB’s eLearning developer spends his weekday’s transforming healthcare learning for staff in Ko Awatea, and in his spare time has clocked up more than 334kms in his runners over the past three years in the Tarawera Ultra Marathon (TUM).

Over the past eight years the TUM has been challenging athletes to run through the Redwoods of Rotorua’s off-road native forest trail all the way to Kawerau in the Bay of Plenty. 

The event has three individual pursuits of 62km, 87km and 102km, and a relay of 85km which can have up to four entrants. Here are some quick answers to understand Ross’ motivations:

Why the TUM Ross?

“Well, why not? I have run the relay twice and in 2016 I ran the 62km course. This year I attempted the 102 km event.

“The run starts at the redwoods at 6am with runners gathering from 5am. The atmosphere is like nothing else as around 1,400 runners wait nervously for their individual and relay races with headlights for the start.”

Tell us, what it is like to run a 102km race?

“The run starts with endless uphills, which we walk as there is a long way to go. The first aid station at the Blue Lake is a welcomed sight with time to have food and a drink. I stick to fruit, oranges and bananas and my usual ginger beer to keep my stomach in order.

“I got to the Lake Okataina aid station feeling pretty good and then the technical stage for Tarawea Falls begins. I fell over a few times and had bad cramps in my calves. I was met at the 62km mark by my pacer, Bridget Spragg McLauchlin, who ran with me to the next station at Titoki before the cut off time and then the right turn to get to the infamous ‘loop of despair’, a 5km loop hat tries the patience as it goes vertical through the bush, then back to the aid station near dark.

“Another 15km to go and mostly walking as my little toes were quite sore and I could feel every step. The kms go slowly but I managed to get to the end, with a run for the last 20 metres to receive my well-deserved medal.

Again we ask the inevitable “WHY?”

“I run.

“I ran my first marathon just before I was 60 and immediately wanted to do more.

“I have since done a few more marathons and lots of half marathons and four ultras.

“I run to keep depression away and to help me function as a normal human being. It takes me to one of my happy places that I can’t go to unless I am running. Off road running focuses the mind on the moment and there is no room for anything else but total concentration on where you will put your next foot.

“There is also the question in the back of my mind as to how far or how fast I can go.”

What’s next?

“I’ve entered the Taupo 74km Ultra for later in the year and will do the 87km TUM next year as that is the only one in the Tarawera series that I have yet to run.

“If you are thinking I’m crazy or stupid, the challenge I put to all Waikato DHB staff is to enter the 85km relay where each person runs from 17 – 25 km as part of a team and that way you can find out how to change your life for the better.

“Seems like it is too far to run?  Start by running the parkrun every Saturday morning at 8am from the yacht club at Hamilton Lake, or join Hamilton Road Runners so you can run with like people who can help you get healthy, lose weight keep the mind healthy.

“Just get moving so you can enjoy life like I do, where every day is a pleasure.”

Links:

Tarawera Ultra Marathon:  http://www.taraweraultra.co.nz/

Waitomo Trail Run: http://www.waitomotrailrun.co.nz/

Tarawera Marathon and 50km run:  http://www.taraweramarathon.co.nz/

For more information contact Ross Dewstow: [email protected]

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