Studying in New Zealand has been an insightful experience, and the roads and trails of Rotorua have been a great perk.
As an amateur runner, I love that the city is one big running adventure playground. From the hills of the Whakarewarewa forest to the boiling mud pools of Sulphur Point, there is no shortage of enchanting scenery and challenging terrain.
When I decided to study in New Zealand, I wanted to stay in a place of close likeness to my hometown. I am from Baguio in the Philippines, a city with just about the same climate as Rotorua, perhaps only warmer compared to the mild New Zealand winter. Rotorua, however, is much flatter than Baguio, which is found in the mountain region of the Philippines. This means fast and flat courses improved my speed. True enough, I have achieved a personal record in the recently concluded Rotorua Marathon, owing to the tough mountain climbs early in my training in Baguio and the speedwork performed on the roads of Rotorua.
Training for the 2017 Rotorua Marathon
In recently discovering the values of a sound mind and body and the right environment to immerse in, I sought the help of my educational advisors back home to determine the most suitable location for my family's lifestyle. With their recommendations, I was delighted to find that Rotorua is home to the Rotorua Marathon, New Zealand's premier marathon course that runs through a single loop around Lake Rotorua. I immediately signed up after receiving my offer of place from Toi-Ohomai Institute of Technology, where I currently study Adult Teaching.
Being new to the city (and with amateur backcountry skills), I remained on the roads so I can easily track my progress and location. I simulated the course as closely as I could, reaching as far as Hamurana when I took the western side of the course (going clockwise) and Owhata when I took the east (anti-clockwise). I also used Tarawera Road to the magnificent Blue, Green, and Okareka Lakes during my long runs to add hills to my training.
The Redwoods and the Whakarewarewa forest
Running post-marathon required surfaces that are easier on the legs and feet. This required me to stay off roads and head to the trails. The fire roads, single-track paths and other trails of the Redwoods and the Whakarewarewa forest offer not only challenging runs but also breathtaking views of towering trees and majestic hillscapes. Challenging hills are compensated by downhills or flats that provide relief, making for an excellent workout. Whenever I battle a climb, I always imagine the reward of basking in the magnificent view from up top. Truly, the view of Rotorua from Whaka Point shows a geothermal wonder that is this city.
Road to Tauranga
Today, in the middle of winter, I brave the cold mornings and train for the inaugural Tauranga International Marathon happening in October. I believe that the best way to see a new place is on foot, and I am seeing New Zealand one marathon at a time. Onwards to Tauranga!