Monday, September 1, 2014

Running the Tongariro Northern Circuit

Just before the weekend I had another run on the Tongariro Northern Circuit. It's one of the most popular multi-day walking tracks in NZ, seeing several thousand trampers every summer who sleep in large huts spaced 10-15kms apart along the trail. In winter the trail doesn't see quite so many folk, but it is still quite runnable for the most part, even if a good portion of the track is above snowline and steep around the Red Crater area. It is 43.1 km long and involves roughly 1700 metres of elevation gain. Last year I made it around in 5:34 and was stoked to shave 20 minutes off that on this outing. Photos are quite dodgy on account of my phone having a smudged lens or something.

Flowy, well groomed trail at the outset from the Village up to Tama lakes. Then rougher and rockier but still entirely runnable over to Waihohonu hut.

From here the trail traverses through some native forest before entering the desert on the eastern side of the peak and through old lava flows up to the Oturere hut. The prettiest part of the trail in my opinion, not that these fuzzy photos would suggest so.

  Above snowline (around 1500m at the moment) soft conditions made for slower travel. Up to Emerald lake I was thankful that the snow was soft enough to kick steps. From the highpoint down to south crater conditions were much firmer and required some poise in the running shoes.

On the descent into Mangetepopo valley there was some quality, smooth trail until the junction the trail heading back over the the Village which is quite rutted and heavily eroded.

Setting out from the Whakapapa Village these were my splits
0:36 Tama lakes junction
1:27 Waihohonu Hut
2:28 Oturere Hut
3:13 Emerald Lake
4:11 Mangatepopo junction
5:13 Whakapapa Village

On the menu: 3x clif shots and 2 litres of clif electrolyte drink

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