Here I am in New Zealand, after ending my Australian stint in the best possible way: one last track session at Melbourne Uni, dinner with the MUAC crew, and my first ever nibble of kangaroo meat.
I had such a good time getting to know the team over countless runs, meals, and coffees this month, and am so appreciative of the extent to which they included me and showed me around. Their classically Australian relaxed approach to living, combined with an intense focus and dedication to running, made for an impressive mixture that I hope to carry with me from here on out. I’m also pumped to add one more club singlet to my growing collection and to rep it proudly when I return for the Zatopek 10k down the road.
I arrived in Auckland on Wednesday to a big smile and hug from Simon, my good friend, former teammate, and fellow Martelian. He grew up here and moved back after graduating from Rice in 2010, and is the ideal guy to show me around this amazing country. I could dig around for some words to describe how cool New Zealand is, but I think this video that Simon made does a much better job: Coast to Coast Roadie
He filmed all of that while training for the Coast to Coast adventure race, which I’ll get to watch and be on his crew for next weekend. We’re flying down to Christchurch and road-tripping all the way back up to Auckland, stopping in a few of his favorite places along the way and doing some substantial running of course.
He also entered the video in a big competition and would appreciate your vote a ton. If he gets enough support, he’ll be short-listed and in the running to earn some money for travel and equipment. So if you have a spare second, follow the simple instructions on the site above and show some love to my Kiwi bud!
As soon as I touched down in NZ, Simon took me on a spin through the city, pointing out the major landmarks and stopping at a couple of his favorites. We drove through Cornwall Park, a hotspot for Kiwi runners, and stood on top of Mt. Eden for a brilliant 360 view of Auckland. I’m already loving the warm but mild weather, the sight and sound of the ocean from almost anywhere in the city, and the 48 volcanic cones that sprout from the earth due to New Zealand’s location on the Pacific Ring of Fire. Even more than the sights though, getting to catch up with an old friend and to stay with a family after many months of solo traveling is the best.
Si also gave me a little gift to welcome me to New Zealand: an original copy of Peter Snell’s book No Bugles No Drums. I had the pleasure of meeting the legendary Dr. Snell (3-time Olympic Champion and multiple times World Record Holder, among countless other accolades) and his lovely wife Miki in their Dallas just before I took off on my trip, and will share some of our conversation in an upcoming post.