Aucklanders needing a little extra motivation to go for a run up until 28 August can take on a fun new challenge devised by a leading sports drink company.
The Powerade Challenge comprises a 9km lap up and down the sea front from the Auckland Ferry Terminal to the The Royal Akarana Yacht Club and back. Enter online at powerade.co.nz/challenge, and a special bracelet is sent in the post. Hold this to a panel on the vending machine at the Ferry Terminal and it starts the clock; repeat the process at the yacht club and it registers you half way.
A final swipe when you get back adds your time to the leader board, and enters you for weekly spot prizes of free drinks and merchandise.
As extra motivation, the challenge is to try and match estimated times the All Blacks might take to go the same distance, although I confirmed before I left that none of the ABs had actually run the course.
Worth a try? I ran down there to find out. I have just started training for the Tarawera 100km Ultramarathon next March, so any training time is handy right now.
The first thing I noticed is that just having someone or something else time me, and knowing that time would be public, very in my case, did make me work harder. For a solitary runner like myself, the challenge also offered the chance to chat to other runners when I spotted their blue bracelet.
I picked up some handy hints at the start from one of the fastest females on the leader board, who happened to be waving her partner off on the run. The challenge seems to have aroused the interest of quite a few serious runners: the fastest runner as I write came home in 33 minutes and 38 seconds, with the fastest woman clocking in at 38 minutes and 42 seconds.
There were quite a lot of runners out on this sunny Saturday, and I noticed quite a few taking part in the challenge. I chuckled when I passed the billboard that sensed my approach and put "Go Andy!" up in lights, which put a bit of a spring in my step. At this point the route crosses the odd side street, which means the super-competitive will need to cool it a bit to make a safe crossing. There are no marshals out there, so you need to look after yourself.
I had been warned to keep my eyes peeled for the small knee-high sign marking the turnaround point. The vending machine on the far side of the yacht club took a few all-important seconds to register while I stood there trying not to get cold and smiling at the boaties. They probably thought I was leaning against the machine for a breather, but soon enough I was off on the return leg.
Unfortunately, a knee injury of mine flared up on my way back, with a spreading warmth and pain taking over my right leg. So I limped home in 50 minutes. That's nine minutes slower than they claim an AB prop forward can do it. I reckon I could definitely do it faster, with or without the injury, with one of them chasing me down the whole way.
A nice touch was when the machine coughed up a free drink at the finish for me, which I gulped down while stretching out on the pavement. There was no physio on hand, and nobody around to offer my excuses to, so I headed off for a kebab.
Enter The Powerade Challenge online.