Easter Island (Rapa-Nui) Marathon. The completion of a long journey.
On May 1 2014 I was riding to work in Canberra along Reconciliation Place on the southern shore of Lake Burley Griffin. I decide to give the walkers ahead a wide berth as we passed and rode over a decorative curved black row of tiles. Crash!! I went over the handlebars and ended up sitting on the ground clutching my left shoulder. That row of black tiles disguised a step. The real problem, though, was that only one month later, on 1 June, I was due to run the Easter Island (Rapa-Nui) Marathon and finish my Journey of running marathons on 7 Continents. Had I broken my collar bone? Would I be able to run the Marathon? These were my first thoughts.
A couple of hours later and a trip to the hospital the diagnosis was a separated AC Joint and the arm was to be immobilised for 4 weeks. Ah well – a long taper and at the worst case I would have to run the marathon with the arm in a sling. Five visits to my Chiropractor later saw me starting to run again after a week. I arrived on Easter Island a couple of days before the run ready to roll.
My 7 Continents journey would not have been possible without the support of my wife Diane. The journey started in 2002 when I ran the London Marathon. 5 years later the continent of Asia was crossed off the list when the Great Wall Marathon was completed in the company of Peter Fitzpatrick and Don McIntyre from the Wagga Wagga Road Runners Club. 2009 saw me complete the Kentucky Derby Marathon a week after the 2009 Canberra Marathon. 2010 The African continent was ticked off the list with the Big5Marathon. 2013 saw the Antarctic marathon completed, leaving only the continent of South America to do.
We chose Easter Island over the Cities-type marathons such as Rio as we had really enjoyed the companionship and overall experiences of the smaller marathons such as Big 5 and Antarctica. Easter Island has a mysterious past that is really worth searching out. The arrival of the original Polynesians, the society that developed and collapsed. The Stories of the Moai, their creation and fall and the stories of the bird men are fascinating. Plus the chance to run a marathon on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean.
Easter Island is a tiny triangular shaped Island. The longest side is about 22km or so. It is about 5 hours flying time west of Santiago, the capital of Chile. This was where we were met by Rodriguez the event organiser, for our flights to Easter Island. The Marathon, ½ Marathon, 10 kilometre run and a 5 kilometre local Kids Run are the last day of a three day festival organised by Rodriguez. The two days prior to the Marathon saw a sprint and ½ Iron Man Triathlon and a 35 and 70 kilometre mountain bike race around the island.
The Marathon course, after a loop around Hanga Roa, the only town on Easter Island, headed across the island to Anakena Beach (and its famous 5 beach moai) for the turn round point and the return journey to Hanga Roa. The course was on a sealed road and offered great views of the island and Pacific Ocean.
The sting was that the high point in the run is about 2/3rds of the way to the turn around point, and tops at 210 metres above sea level. The second time we climb this hill after the turn round point takes the runners from sea level to 210 metres in about 5 to 6 kilometres.
I was privileged to have members of my family running with me on Easter Island. Son in law Giles ran the Marathon. His wife Kim ran her first ½ marathon. Jenni had hoped to run her first marathon, however a tummy bug stopped that and she reverted to the 1/2 marathon.
Race day dawned fine with a temperature in the high teens. The Start time was a latish 10.15 a.m. to allow the Church goers to get out and support the runners as they ran past the church. There were 162 finishers in the four events held that day. The field was made up of locals, South Americans and runners from the US, Canada, Europe and Australia.
After our loop of Hanga-Roa we ran out past the airport and on to the road across the Island. The field shrank as we passed the ten kilometre turn round. I checked my time there and eased my pace as we started the gentle climb to the 210 metre high point. Just short of that my running companion turned at the ½ marathon turn round. As we descended toward the Marathon turn round I allowed gravity to take over and my pace increased. I did note as we passed the 25 km drink station a couple of the runners already on their way back walking at that point. Just prior to the turn round I passed three marathoners and headed back toward the climb. I knuckled down, shortened my stride and focused on relaxing and swing my arms strongly and made it to the high point without walking. Once over the top and it was a matter of hanging on. I passed three other runners near the airport and was passed by another runner. Now it was into Hanga-Roa and down to the coast road to the finish. I pushed as hard as possible over the last kilometre and finished in a time of 4.52.16. I arrived a little early for Diane to get the Photo of me finishing my 7 continents journey as I finished the Easter Island Marathon. She did get a good photo of my back as I approached the line.
The Easter Island is a fantastic event. The course is challenging, the organisation great. The Drink stations were great and manned by friendly Islanders. There is no time limit on the event making it a good event for those of us who are less fleet of foot. The stories about Easter Island are well worth investigating. The five nights, six day trip is well worth it.
I would like to really thank Mari Mar Walton and the staff of Travelling Fit. They have sent me to 5 of my 7 continents. Every trip with them has gone without a hitch