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Fridays are for the Trails

Lexi Ross
August 18, 2019

Kia ora, everyone! August has just been flying by! Every day I wake up and see the tip of the mountains through my window, and I still can’t believe I am really halfway across the globe from home.

Speaking of home, one of the best choices I made when I arrived at my home university was to pick up running as a hobby. I joined the club cross country team the beginning of my freshman year at GW with absolutely no running experience, and by the end of my sophomore year I completed my first ultramarathon. I learned two important lessons from running the paved roads of Washington, D.C. five days a week:

1. Running is one of the best ways to explore a new place.

2. I HATE RUNNING ON PAVEMENT.

Fortunately, Christchurch is home to some of the best running trails I have ever had the opportunity to (very, very slowly) run on. With the help of a few trail mapping sites, I have been able to find hundreds of routes that are all accessible via the Christchurch bus system (which is my best friend and worst enemy). Unfortunately, the commute to the trailheads can take anywhere from 45-75 minutes and several bus transfers, so it is a bit of a trip, but one definitely worth taking.

NOTE: When trying to wave down the bus, don’t ACTUALLY WAVE! Kiwis are super nice people and think you are being nice by waving to them, so the drivers wave back and don’t actually pull the bus off so you can get on, so you have to wait at the bus stop for another 25 minutes when it’s really cold and you are wearing shorts and everyone is staring at you because it’s the middle of winter.

TL;DR just stick your arm out when you see your bus.

With this newfound holy grail of trail knowledge, I decided that each Friday morning (I don’t have class!!) I would go run a new trail. So far I have run the trails of Hagley Park (mostly paved, sad!), trails up Summit Road in the Port Hills, Bottle Lake Forest, and the Rapiki Track. I have run on 4WD gravel roads, single tracks that for some unknown reason have ankle-deep sand despite being nowhere near the beach, some big hills, some hills even bigger than that, through herds of sheep and a whole lot of mud, and did I mention UP SOME REALLY GIANT HILLS.

To date, my best running moment came at the summit of a trail that took me up over a thousand feet in less than two miles. I don’t think I have ever been that tired or in pain while on a run, but when I got to the top I was literally in the clouds. And I don’t mean in the fantasy kind of way, I was LITERALLY standing in a cloud in the Port Hills. I got to see a cotton candy sun set over Christchurch while *very gracefully* catching my breath.

We are leaving for our two-week midsemester break next weekend, so I’m not sure if I’ll keep my streak, but I’ll definitely keep it going in term four. I can’t wait to see where my trail shoes take me next!

All the love

Lexi

Lexi Ross

<p>Hi! My name is Lexi and I am a junior spending my semester abroad at the University of Canterbury. Although my home university is in a city, I absolutely love being outdoors! Some of my favorite activities are hiking (especially with dogs), swimming in lakes, and trail running. I can't wait to explore the beautiful South Island of New Zealand and share some of my adventures!</p>

Home University:
George Washington University, The
Hometown:
Needham, MA
Major:
African Studies
Journalism
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