And then the challenge ended

Full disclosure here. If you don’t have the luxury of COVID-19 lockdown to read this somewhat ‘whole-hearted’ blog post, then I won’t blame you for skipping to the last couple of paragraphs where I sum things up. For everyone else, I’ll shout you a beer for bearing with me on this one…(T’s&C’s apply hehe)

In the lead up to Northburn 100 the nerves were humming…and not in a gentle lullaby fashion, rather in the constant buzz and rattle of a broken fridge that you just can’t force yourself to throw out because it might open the floodgates to remodeling your entire kitchen!

A hum that no matter what you do you just can’t block it out, and the more you try, the more it sticks in your head.

Though the nerves this time were different to the other races.  I was ready, my body was ready, I had put in the work and was ready for my ‘victory lap’.  The nerves this time came from a virus that had popped up and had started to dominate the news…..and on a precipice of, the planet!

People around the world were getting sick en masse, hundreds dying…but in our little Island bubble you’d be forgiven for thinking that we seemed immune.  While numbers crept up around the world, little old NZ was doing “OK”. To be honest, when the nerves first started their bongo beat they were more around what would happen if I got the virus – I did not want to get a flu and miss out on my big race because of what was deemed by many to be ‘just a flu’ at the time.

As race day loomed, COVID-19 continued its rampage around the globe with no population safe from its deadly spread.  Borders around the world were closing, travellers into New Zealand were being put into isolation – but yet – the race was to go on, or at least we hoped it would.  There was so much uncertainty, but all we could do was continue on as best we could hoping for the best.

Little did I know I had just taken my seat on a roller-coaster…and I couldn’t see the end of it.


We picked up the motorhome from Travel NZ in Tahunanui after I finished work early. At this stage the COVID-19 threat was looming ever closer to home, and unknown to us all these would be our last few days of freedom before life as we knew it changed.

The road trip was tons of fun, though ever present in my mind was, the hum.  I was frequently checking my phone, would the race go ahead? While simultaneously trying to process the thought of what if…what if it was cancelled?

Our amazing home away from home thanks to

I have to admit that throughout these days I was in my own little world, as the ramifications of just what COVID-19 would mean to us, to New Zealand, to our future swirled around me, all I could think of was what this meant to me, and my challenge, and the last 10 months of my life which had been solely devoted to this challenge.  Devoted, sometimes to the detriment of those around me (but that’s a topic for another blog!).


I woke up to a message from my number one crew and supporter (my amazing sister, Ness), it didn’t look good, she said.  There would be an announcement from the government later in the day about public gatherings…get ready for the challenge to be cancelled, she said.  Was she still hitting the road with us to travel down to Wanaka? Hell yes! If the race was cancelled I would still run a miler and she would still support me!

We were still going uphill on this rollercoaster and the view is looking surweet!

The announcement came as we sat in a petrol station fuelling up.  We all huddled around the phone to hear Jacinda address the nation.  I held my breath for the public gathering announcement…this was it, the make or break…annddddd….gatherings under 500 people could go ahead!!  A massive sigh of relief, it was all go! The nervous hum disappeared. Everything was going to be ok. We were going to finish this thing off.

We hit the road again and were in Tekapo when we saw the announcement from Northburn confirming that we were all go!  Queue a happy Insta post, a great big burger for dinner..cause you know, I’m getting ready to run 100 miles whoopppp!!! And off we went again to finish the journey to Wanaka and get ready for our final race.

Happy Intsa post before the news the race was cancelled.

Hands in the air for a loop-the-loop on this roller-coaster, everything is A-OK.

But wait, there’s a tunnel ahead on this ride, one that I can’t see the other side of…

I can’t tell you exactly where we were when we heard the news, the signal is patchy at best between Tekapo and Wanaka.  But it was an insta message in reply to my ‘happy post’. Cryptically it said…’Spoke too soon’…Wait, what???????????

That’s about the point that I really disappeared into my own head.  Where the hum became a wail, as I desperately sought to figure out what that meant.

As far as I was concerned, the race was on! The message on the Northburn Facebook page said only hours ago that it was.  Things had changed though, it was too risky, the race was cancelled.

So much noise in my head, so many questions, so much to process.  I would not be the first woman to complete the Miler Challenge.

The challenge was done.

In my vain attempt to hold onto the possibility that I might somehow complete the challenge I messaged Stephanie, the organiser of the challenge, could we run Northburn unofficially?  Could we run another 100 miles to complete the challenge of 4 100 mile races in 12 months…somehow, someway? I couldn’t believe that it was over.  

Yes! The answer came back. We could run Northburn unofficially to finish the challenge.  As my head hit the pillow Thursday night I was exhausted from the rollercoaster, but full of the hope of still completing the challenge.


Emotionally exhausted and a little worse for wear – but with hope – I started to organise my gear.  We would still complete Northburn. It wouldn’t be official but we would get to complete the challenge.  There would be no prize-giving to receive my trophy, to share that moment I had imagined over and over in my head with my crew who had got me there.

We had shed tears over there being no prize-giving as Ness revealed my family had organised to surprise me at the finish line and to share the prize giving for this momentous occasion – they had flown all the way from Hamilton too!  All was not lost though, they were still coming, we would still celebrate…and I’d pick up my trophy on the way through Christchurch when we headed home. None of this was as it was meant to be, but we would make the most of it.

It was late morning when I received a direct message to a select few who were going to go the distance, literally, but unofficially.  ‘Sorry, but you can not run Northburn unofficially’.

Cue that part of the rollercoaster that makes your stomach turn (again), except this time, the ride was over.

We couldn’t complete the challenge.  Our entries would be transferred to next year and we could use next year’s race to complete our Miler challenge.

My eyes welled up, “whats up?” someone asked.  “We can’t run Northburn anymore. It’s over”.

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