Wild Stories – An Ultra Virgin

At Running Wild we love sharing inspiring trail running stories. This one was sent in today by Terry Davis of Highland Events in Otago. If you have a great story to share (and we know you do!) then please email it to us so we can share it with other Wild Things…

View West from Dore Pass

My first ultra distance trail run (1996) was also my first run over 8km. I was working as a boat host in Milford Sound for Fiordland Travel (now Real Journeys), three weeks in a row we would only get one day off then the 4th week we’d get 3 days in a row. I had been running regularly up the the Tutuko valley trail (only about 4km one way but it set me on a life long love affair with trail running), cycling up to the Homer tunnel and back, and tramping up to Gertrude Saddle so I had some conditioning under my belt.

I decided I’d like to do the Milford Track but only had one day off coming up so I caught a bus out of Milford after work on Friday and hopped off about half way to Te Anau just over the mountains from the start of the Milford Track. I tramped up Dore Pass and made it just before dark. I went down off the tops and bivvied under my tent fly.

Next morning I tramped down to the start of the track – it took over an hour, then I started running. I got passed the first 2 huts (Neale Burn and Clinton) before any of their inhabitants had started walking so most of the way to the start of the climb up the pass was free of any other people.

The weather was fine but not too warm. I passed a couple of DOC workers along the track and when they enquired as to where I was staying they were surprised and a bit ‘peeved that I was rushing through and not giving the “greatest walk in the world” the due attention it deserved.

End of Milford Track

I slowed down to a tramp as I passed folk along the track then waited till they were out of sight before running again. I didn’t want to kill their idea of what a ‘big effort’ they were putting in. I appreciated the breaks anyway. I must have walked plenty because I missed the boat at Sandfly Point. For those who don’t know you have to catch a boat from the end of the Milford Track back to Milford Sound ‘township’ – I think the last one left at 3pm.

So now what do I do?? I dump my 40L budget pack on the ground and write a note in the sand to say I’ll be back tomorrow to pick it up. I swam (a very short swim) the Arthur River and walked out to the point of Fresh Water Inlet where the fishing boats would be coming back in soon. I wave like crazy at the first couple of boats but they don’t see me on the bank amongst the thick bush. I ended up swimming a wee way out (probably only 50m) to a large floating log that I could stand on and attract attention – next fishing boat in picked me up, no biggy.

No electrolytes but I took a big bag of salted nuts with me and muesli bars. I had pretty sore knees for a few days but wow did I sleep good that night!


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