Blenheim and the Vineyard Half (Late April/May Part 2)

Robert Latta
May 28, 2013

The next two weekends after the Queenstown odyssey brought me up to Blenheim.  The first of those was in order to see my friend Erik, who was working at a winery.  It was his last weekend in town since he was being laid off at the end of the harvest.

My second weekend in Blenheim was with eleven other IES’ers.  Initially, only five of us were heading up there to run in the annual Vineyard Half Marathon at the St. Clair Vineyard.  However, seven others ended up coming along for the ride.

One of the best things about being in the Marlborough area was staying in a house right on Queen Charlotte Sound.  Kudos to fellow IES’er John for finding it!

Our piece of paradise (for the weekend, at least). Photo cred: Deanna.

Photo cred: Deanna.

We arrived at the house at around 6 p.m. Friday night.  Joe cooked us an excellent, carbo-loading meal of pasta and bread.  It was an early night, as the five runners retired to bed at around 10 o’clock.

On Saturday morning we awoke at 6 and had breakfast, then departed for the vineyard.  The morning was still brisk at the starting line, but hundreds of wool-clad runners assembled under the brilliant blue sky.

Pre-race. Photo cred: John.

With the sound of a man ringing a bell, the giant mass moved slowly forward.  The first 5 kilometers of the 21 kilometer race were hectic as I became caught behind the slowest of the runners.  The trail through the vines was crowded.  I had to focus hard on the gravel roads, as my Vibram 5 Finger shoes, with their minimalist, barefoot soles, were not able to block the sharp poke I felt from stepping on the stones.

Photo cred: Deanna.

Eventually the pack dissipated and I was free to run as fast or slow as I wanted without worrying about stepping on some old lady’s heels or receiving the same treatment from a spandex warrior consumed by the noise coming from his ear buds without any regard for his fellow runners.

The kilometers—each marked by a white sign–passed by gradually.  At first, those little white signs were quite annoying.  I couldn’t keep myself from noticing them.  It was almost as if I was being forced to watch a pot that would never boil.  However, passing a few performers during the race—including a troupe of bagpipers, a lone guy playing a banjo, and a rock band—kept me motivated.  Furthermore, samples of ice cream and mussels gave me the energy I needed.

Sometimes, the wail of a few of the bagpipes is all the motivation you need. Photo cred: Deanna.

The last 5 kilometers were frantic.  I noticed a few exhausted racers who had slowed down to a walk.  My feet were hurting after numerous encounters with rocks, which caused me to run as like I was crossing a bed of hot coals.  The last kilometer was a near sprint.  The cheers I heard before the final bend let me know that I was nearly done.  I crossed the finish line, out of breath and with a time of an hour and fifty five minutes.  Not bad for a first half marathon!

Post-race celebration.

By IES standards, I’d call it a workout [redefined].  My knees have never hurt so much the day following a run.

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Blenheim and headed back at the house.  I took a freezing dip in the Sound.  That night, we sat by the fire and listened to the tapes (yes, cassette tapes) that the owner of the house had.

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Robert Latta

<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Robbie Latta and I am a junior studying civil engineering at Purdue University in lovely West Lafayette, Indiana. I am also a member of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity on campus. I like to spend time outside, bike, play hockey when I am home in Minnesota, write, and spend time with my friends. I am coming to New Zealand to explore the Kiwi lifestyle and have some fun!</span></div>

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