Tell anyone you've started running and their first question is always: what event are you training for?

High on runner's lists are iconic races like Round the Bays (both Auckland and Wellington versions), half marathons in Kerikeri, Taupo and the Christchurch, Auckland or Wellington marathons.

I've been side-stepping the event question. When I started running one of my aims was to make a permanent lifestyle change that will see regular exercise remain part of my life. I wanted to avoid the boom and bust of training for events before flopping back on the couch.

But yes, I do want to test myself with a running race. Unfortunately my ego is still a little scarred from the last running event I entered.


I'd settled on a 10km women's-only event down-country. It promised to be a lovely day out with hubby and our then one-year-old. My being woefully underprepared was the only cloud in sight.

I won't bore you with my excuses and lies, but let's just say my training had gone off track some time prior to the big day.

Part way through the two hour drive to the race start I whispered: "I think I'll just do the 5km".

Given that it was a friendly women's-only event I was sure I'd be able to downsize my entry.

"I'm not driving four hours for you to run 5km," hissed Mr Jog On.

Fair call really. Not only had he seen me bilk my training duties, travel of any kind with babies has nothing to commend it and there are plenty of 5km events within half an hour of home.

So off I set on the 10km loop into the countryside. Buoyed along by the other competitors my race got off to a cracking start.

There was a quick toilet stop behind a school bus shelter - sorry kids - at the 5km mark. And then it all went downhill. Badly. Not literally of course. No, no. By this point I was actually staring a nasty little hill in the face.

I got to 7km - coincidently the same distance as my longest ever training run - sustained by the encouragement of two women running alongside me. At this point my thighs were unbearably sore from the chafing (damn wees) and I started to walk... and feel quite dizzy and nauseous. When I finally crossed the finish line my time was so unbelievably slow I was actually listed as a walker.

I know it is very hard to learn from the mistakes of others but I can truthfully say that constantly skipping training runs will catch up with you in the long run. Big time.
As a result I'm a bit starter gun shy, but now it's time to grow-up. It was one of my goals to find a 5km run to do early in the New Year.

On Sunday March 18 I'll be lining up to run 8km. It's the day of Auckland's Round the Bays run, which will see around 40,000 registered runners and another 30,000-odd hangers-on dash or dawdle around the scenic waterfront course.

Round the Bays has been run by the Auckland Joggers Club since 1972 and at $15 is probably one of the cheapest races around.

The official website has couch-to-start line training plans for both walkers and runners.
Although the six week training plan doesn't kick off until early February it may pay to start doing some gentle runs or walks now. It's a five-day-a-week training schedule and I can attest to how challenging that can be if you're not already exercising regularly.

Anyway, if you're running Round the Bays, good luck but I won't be there with you.
I'm going to be running 8km around the rural roads of Coatesville in the Coatesville Classic.

The Coatesville Classic began 20 years ago as a fun run as a fundraiser to build a local pool, raising $1000. Now run by professional event organisers it still channels money from the entry fees into local initiatives. This year the Scout group, community hall and primary school will benefit.

The event now includes a 2km kids run, 8km event and a 21km half marathon, all run on closed roads.

Until a few weeks ago I had never heard about the Coatesville Classic, or even been to the area for that matter, so I got the inside word from race director Rob Docherty. Completing his first marathon at 18, Docherty has more than 30 years of running under his belt. The 8km course is a loop - known locally as "the block run" - used regularly by runners and walkers. As Docherty describes it, the first few kilometres are flat but then it goes up the main hill.

"It's challenging, there's no two ways about it. By the time you get to the top of that you'll be huffing and puffing a bit," he says

The course then follows the undulating Ridge Road, which provides views back across Auckland or on the other side, a bird's eye view of the Dotcom mansion.

Docherty says the last few kilometres "when you need it most" are either a gentle or steep downhill, finishing on a path through the pony club grounds. At this point, all going well, I'll be giving the kids a wave before crossing the line to get my finisher's medal.

In other news:

* 80s barefoot running sensation, Zola Budd, to run ultra-marathon.

* Months apart from children the price British marathon runner Paula Radcliffe will pay to win an Olympic gold.

* Dunedin trail runner Anna Frost runs home from Queenstown after a friend's wedding.


* The Blackball Hilton Croesus Crossing, a tough 26km trail run on the West Coast. Saturday January 21.

* Run across Waiheke in the Wharf 2 Wharf with 7km, 12km and 25km options, Saturday January 21.

Anyone else had a horror race day experience?