Christchurch > Waipara > Cheviot

30 Nov

 Day 16 – 49.9 km/31 miles later…

TO CHRISTCHURCH…. My first stop in Papatowai (which seems like years ago) introduced me to Mary and Fergus Sutherland and through Mary, I was put in touch with her brother John and his wife Gael. John and Gael Bickley live with their 3 children and 2 close friends in a popular suburb of Chirstchurch known as Lyttelton. Lyttelton is known for its port which is big enough for some serious imports and exports but small enough to ward off intrusive commercialism. It offers functional character without depriving the locals of a gorgeous bay view.

In February 2011, Lyttelton was given a serious shake by an aftershock of the destructive September 2010 quake. The February quake condemned nearly 1 in 2 buildings in the Lyttelton community. The isolated nature of the suburb centralized the damage, due to a range of mounts separating the main Christchurch area from its southern suburbs. This range caused an aggressive reverberation of the shallow seismic waves, repeatedly ravaging the area and making the earthquake seem like an eternity. Miraculously, the Bickley’s historic house survived with very minor damage. This could not be said for many of their fellow Lytteltonians. After discussing the affect of this quake with Gael, it was clear the damage to their community went far beyond physical. Hundreds of family homes were no longer habitable, drastically limiting the bustling social community present prior to the event. Local schools were shut down adding scores of time to educational commutes, pushing families to spread themselves thin after suffering several of these traumatic events. Land slides and fallen rocks ruined famous scenic roads stealing engrained character from the unique hillsides. Fortunately, there are enough families left in Lyttelton to drive on and continue as things were the best they can and the Bickley’s are one of these families.

I was very lucky to come across John, Gael, and their bouncing family, for they were amazing hosts. They lead a lively household full of youth, excitement, and spontaneity. I was fed with amazing home-cooking and given conversation of ranging topics from real estate, to high school mathematics, to positive thinking, to childhood party games, and more. My stop in Christchurch was an experience I will never forget and meeting the Bickley’s made me miss childhood.  But it gave me an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of free-spirited youth, a notion I continually try to personify. Huge thanks to John, Gael, and their talented children for the bed to sleep in and the great Kiwi hospitality.

Day 17 – Rest

Day 18 – 58.5 km/36.4 miles later…

Waipara… A small place, not too far from Christchurch in a car, but certainly a solid run. This day was the first of a 3-day segment of running that took me 102.3 miles. Certainly, the most trying series of runs thus far.

I arrived after a total of 7.75 hours of running the coolest house I have ever stayed in. A massive, hand-built, 2-story, wood cabin, placed amongst a small homegrown farm, with a friendly family there to take me in and show me a comfortable, laid back evening. Sarah and William were the parents of Rob and Andrew, with two temporary American residents, Jordan and Sanya, who are currently traveling and farm working respectively. And to put a random feeling of mine into prespective for you all: it felt odd to be amongst 2 other Americans because it was my first time since being in the States, that I was with more than one other Yank.   Americans need to get out more 🙂 Anyways we all crashed, woke, ate and they sent me on my way. Huge thanks to these fantastic hosts!

Day 19 – 56.2 km/34.9 miles later…

Put me at Cheviot, a quaint little town with a beautiful scenic domain and a sizable community for a township in the South Island. This day was the 2nd of the 102 Trio.  It was relatively flat, other than a couple hills just before my arrival to the house of Ange, Monty and family. They owned the only place in the scenic domain/reserve, with a huge yard, and a quiet aura perfect for a relaxing rest before my final trek of the 102 Trio.

First, I will give Ange a shout out. Not only was she the contact point for letting me stay at their place in Cheviot, but she also set me up with the family in Waipara by going 2 degrees beyond her friends to connect me with someone who she didn’t know directly. Huge thanks for that connection and the wonderful hospitality despite babysitting two kids aside from her own two, feeding us all and then getting all the children to her son’s piano recital. Mind you this was all done in one and a half hours time.

The second shout out is to Monty. Huge thanks for going out and running with me for an hour. One of the most difficult parts of this NZ-running challenge is the solitude. Don’t get me wrong. Solitude is quite useful and a great thing to be able to handle.  I have learned volumes about myself and put hours of meaningful thought into hundreds of different subjects. But being alone can be taxing. But you may ask: what about all the people who pass you on the highway? Yes, cars with people are passing me all the time, but when you are on foot running for 6-8 hours a day, all these cars might as well have wings, jet engines and be 20,000 feet overhead. So, huge props to Monty for taking the time out of his day to join me. It truly was a pleasure to run alongside a great guy who had insightful things to say. Not to mention, Monty put me in touch with the hook-up in Blenheim, which I will mention when that post comes along.

So that was my time in Cheviot and this is the end of one of several updates to catch myself up to Wellington/Porirua.  You will here from me soon!  I should get a few pics up today too… so look out for those!

Big Cat

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