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Sunday, 11 April 2010

Ninety Miles of Beach

"E kore e mau ia koe, he wae kai pakiaka"
A foot accustomed to running over roots makes the speediest runner.
Old Maori saying.

Te Houtaewa - The Legend

Absorbing the Maori legend and cultural significance of Cape Reinga
Compulsory handstands at the lighthouse
Endurance is all about pushing your limits. Striving towards a goal where the outcome is uncertain, and going further than ever before…on the morning of April 11th 2010 we did just that. At our country’s unique spot, I stood next to the lighthouse and gazed northwards to see nothing but ocean... our most outrageous journey then began as we faced the south and ran... We ran through scorched bush and desert, a contrast to the lush farmland of the mainland and the expanse of blue sea. As we crested the final hill, an everlasting stretch of beach unfolded before our eyes...

Hannah, legendary support crew.

90 mile beach....

Fourteen hours later, we stumbled into Ahipara.

Midnight at Ahipara
For me endurance is another word for patience. Endurance is battling against your mind - and the clock - in the midst of monotony to simply “just keep going”. This was the motto for one of our most outrageous adventures. Making our mark on the New Zealand map we ran from our northern-al-most point at Cape Reinga along the never-ending sands of the infamous 90 Mile Beach. Jeremy Minton and I had just completed our first ultra-marathon of over one hundred kilometres.

Maori legend has it that the headland of Cape Reinga - Te Rerenga Wairua - is the departing place for spirits on their homeward journey to Hawaiiki-a-nui, where they enter the underworld. Legend tells of a spirit trail along Ninety Mile Beach, starting at the southern end of the beach. The homebound spirit waits for an outgoing tide before starting the journey towards Cape Reinga. He then climbs the sacred 800-year-old Pohutukawa tree before slipping into the ocean. Maori souls follow Te Ara Wairua (the spirit's pathway) between the meeting place of the Pacific and Tasman oceans towards Three Kings Islands where they take one last look towards their land.

The History: why is it called "Ninety Mile Beach"? The going theory is that in the days when missionaries travelled on horse back, they calculated that an average horse could travel 30 miles each day before needing to be rested. The beach took three days to travel, and so the name was born. But the optimistic missionaries didn't take into account the slower speed for sand, so thinking they had travelled 90 miles they really had only covered 55 miles (88km). The additional 12km from the northern head to Cape Reinga conveniently makes up the full 100km.

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