Race Report: 2017 Tarawera 102 Ultramarathon Race (Part 2)

24 02 2017

Race Report: 2017 Tarawera 102K Ultramarathon Race (Part 2)

Airbnb For Accommodation

Whenever I join ultra races abroad, I usually make my bookings on motels through their websites. I never had the experience to bring my camping gears and set up my tent in camp sites near or within the Starting Area of a trail ultra race. Since I was planning to join the CCC @ UTMB this year (but I was not lucky to be picked on the lottery) and try to stay on Airbnb in Chamonix, France, I looked for “homestays” in Rotorua, New Zealand on the Internet. Staying in New Zealand in an Airbnb accommodation would be a nice “first-time” experience for me prior to going to other races in Europe.

After some browsing on the Internet, I found a place which has so many positive feedback from the people who stayed in the said house. Considering the cheaper amount to be spent as compared to staying a Hotel or Motel in Rotorua, the house is located near the start of the event and the place is quiet and affordable. Looking at the Profile Picture and the name of the owner of the house, I was able to conclude that they could be Asian and it would much easier to communicate and to be relate to them since we belong to the same Continent. So, I made the decision to book for my accommodation in this place. For a duration of stay for 8 days, I was able to pay almost P 20,000 to include some fees.

Upon my arrival at the Town Center of Rotorua, NZ, I called for a Taxi which was waiting for passengers as the right side of the building. The driver is a 75-year old guy and he took some time to look at the address of my destination and glanced at his reference of the places of the city. Then another Taxi Driver asked him if he has any problem on our destination since it took him a couple of minutes to move his Taxi from where I boarded. The other Taxi Driver told him what street to take and the old guy realised where the house is located. It took the Taxi Driver less than 10 minutes to reach my destination.

It was already 9:00 PM when I arrived at the house and the Hosts, Gillian and William Ma were waiting for my arrival. They are very nice hosts and very helpful in giving me some directions to go to some places in the city; very responsive to my needs in the house; and give me some information about the city. They had been in the said house for the past 5 years and they are still childless. I told them about the reason why I was in Rotorua and they were surprised to know that there is such an international event happening in their neighbourhood without them knowing it. Much more surprised when I told them that I will be joining the 102K distance event and they could not believed it since they have known that I’ll be turning 65 years old in 3 months. Of course, I told them also that I am a retired officer with the rank of Two-Star General of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on the second day of my stay in their house. On the early morning of the second day of my stay in their house, I had a lengthy conversation with Gillian and we had to get to know more about her and her husband and the things/places to visit in Rotorua.

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Gillian Ma, My Host

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William Xu, Husband of Gillian

My room has a Double Size Bed with a view of the frontyard of the house with a wide glass window draped with a rolling curtain. It has a locker room and equipped with an electric fan. I was wondering why there was no air-conditioning unit for the room but by opening the window with a small space, I can feel the cool air from the outside to be entering the room. However, I was warned by my Host to close the window during nighttime because some flying insects would be attracted to enter the opened space of the window because of the light from the room. The bed, comforter, and the pillows are very clean and comfortable. However, I have to walk for about few feet outside my room for the toilet and bathroom. The toilet and bathroom are separate rooms but there was no problem for me as they are considered as “common” bathroom & toilet for the guests. I was lucky that I was the only guest for the first three days when a Lady from Switzerland occupied another room in the house for an overnight stay after I finished the race.

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Frontage Of The House

Their address is: 11 Carroll Place 11, Rotorua, Bay Of Plenty 3010, New Zealand.

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Advertisement From Airbnb On My Room

Warm-Up Run To Redwoods Park

After a breakfast of hot coffee and quaker oats, I prepared for a brief run to the Redwoods Park from the house which is about 2.5 kilometer-distance to its entrance and there is another one kilometre to run from the Gate/Entrance to the Visitors Center of the Park. I surveyed the actual place where the Starting Area of the event is located and I had the chance to inspect the trail of the park not knowing that the first kilometre of the race will follow the asphalted road towards the mountain.

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Entrance To Redwoods Park

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One Kilometer Distance From Entrance To The Visitors Center

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Redwoods Park Visitors Center/Starting Area Of The Race

After some picture-taking of those things inside and within the Visitor’s Center, it was time to engage with the personnel of the park. This is where I met Katrina who told me that she has two other Pinoy personnel working with her in the Park. Before we ended our conversation, we had a “selfie” where she approved of it.

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Katrina, A Staff At The Redwoods Park

I returned to the house jogging with a faster pace and I found the weather and the cooler breeze to be like Baguio City during summer time. I knew already that we will have a very hot weather on race day. While I was jogging, I was able to pass a commercial centre which is called Redwood Center which is about 50 meters from the entrance of the Park. From what I’ve seen within the Commercial Center, I knew already where I would eat my lunch for the day.

Bus Rides

I had my second shower in Rotorua and prepared to walk again for my lunch at the Redwood Center. After lunch, I took a Bus Ride to the Town Center for some shopping of souvenirs from Rotorua. Bus Rides are very efficient and orderly in Rotorua. All you have to do is remember the Bus Route Number and pay NZ$ 2.35 for the said route and have the option to transfer to another Bus Route Number within 30 minutes after you are being dropped by the first bus you have taken for FREE. All you have to do is to inform the Driver that you are transferring to another Bus Route after alighting from the Bus, so that he can give you your ticket for the next bus transfer you will be taking. As you board to the transfer Bus, inform the driver that you are transferring from another Bus and give your ticket. The Bus Route goes only on a One Way Loop which means that the next scheduled ride always comes from the Town Center and not from the Turn-Around Point of the Bus and pass on the same road where I was picked up! All the Bus Stops have the scheduled time of arrival posted on a pole adjacent to the Shaded Bus Stop. I have observed that the Bus arrival on the Bus Stop near the house where I stayed was always prompt and on the dot. The Bus Stop near the house where I stayed is only 50 meters away!

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Bus Schedule Posted On Bus Stops

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Typical Picture Of A City Bus In Rotorua

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Picture Inside The Bus

When I learned about the Bus Transport System in the area, there was no need to take the Taxi. However, the schedule of the Bus starts at 7:00 AM and ends at 6:00 PM. If you want a ride after 6:00 PM, take the Taxi by calling the number 07-348-1111 as you could hardly see any Taxi roaming around the streets/roads in Rotorua. Once you call the number and state your location where you can be picked-up, the Taxi will be there with you in few minutes!

(Note: It is advisable to buy a Sim Card for your Cellphone at the Auckland International Airport as soon as you arrive for the cost of NZ$ 39.00)

Change Of Schedule/Itinerary

Even if I have friends on Facebook who are presently living or residing in New Zealand, I did not send them any PM or give them a hint that I need some help or need answers from queries I would like to ask from them. I just patiently read the instructions stated on the Souvenir Program of the Tarawera 100 Ultramarathon Race and then use the Google/Google Maps to get answers from concerns and queries where I need some answers.

My stay in New Zealand was focused in joining and finishing the race where after the race, I would go back to Auckland and board my flight back to Manila. Just simple as that! However, a sudden change has occurred in my schedule.

A PMA Cavalier (PMA Alumni Class ’81 and former Officer of the Philippine Navy) whom I had the opportunity to work with during my assignment in the Philippine Military Academy as a Tactical Officer and member of the General Staff of the Headquarters PMA as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence and Security, sent me a message and welcome greetings for arriving in New Zealand safely. After an exchange of messages on Facebook, I called him using my cellphone. I found out that he is now residing in Wellington with his family and he is inviting me to visit their place before going back to Manila if there is a way that I can squeeze his invitation in my schedule. I said, Yes, why not?

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With My Host In Wellington, NZ, Captain Virgilio Velasco, Philippine Navy (Retired), PMA Class ’81

Looking at my schedule that if I can finish the race before midnight of Saturday, I would take the first trip by bus on Sunday for a 7-hour bus ride to Wellington to rest and at the same time enjoy the view along the route, have a brief tour of the city immediately after arrival, stay overnight in their house, then have another bus ride back directly to Auckland on Monday and then depart for Manila on the morning of Tuesday. It was a hectic schedule that played in my mind but it is doable. However, my friend has a better suggestion for my schedule. The bus ride from Rotorua to Wellington was fine as I will be seeing the sea, the different city centers and landscape of the North Island of New Zealand while I was resting in the bus and have a chance to have some picture-taking during the brief stops in the Bus Stations along the way. Upon our arrival in Wellington, my friend would bring me to their house and have a home dinner with his family and then Rest Overnight. He suggested that I would take the last Jetstar Flight from Wellington to Auckland on the following day, Monday so that I he can bring me to a city tour the whole day before my departure. The schedule was perfect! He advised me to simply book my trip On Line through the websites of the Bus Company and Jetstar. He even generously gave the details of his Credit/Debit Card for me to use for this purpose. Of course, I declined since I have an e-card prepared for this trip.

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Prominent Mountain On The Road To Wellington

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Bus Stop For Lunch

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Kiwi Burger, So Far, The Best Burger I’ve Tasted

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Last Bus Stop @ Wharepaku Before Wellington

So, in a matter of few minutes after our conversation, I was able to book for my bus ride to Wellington and Jetstar Flight back to Auckland. My excitement to finish the race became secondary objective and my trip to Wellington became the primary objective of my remaining stay in New Zealand.

Little did I realize that this change of schedule will greatly affect or have an impact on my performance during the race.

To be continued….








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