I rise early on race day, strap my funny knee, odd ankle and the other one (just in case – I’m VERY prone to accidents), and head to the start line.
The nervous tension and excitement in the air is contagious, with 200,000 people ready for the 12km journey back to Auckland.
I do a double-take when I see Lena Dunham’s spitting image.
The route on New Zealand’s largest run is relatively flat and I distract myself by looking at the iconic skyline of Auckland, far in the distance – how come it isn’t getting any closer?
The wind blusters against us but I turn up my music and keep going strong. At the two km mark I set my target on ‘Lena’s’ double buns up ahead and lengthen my strides to overtake her. But with my burst of energy comes sudden lethargy. With the wind against me I persevere but my pace slows.
I match Lena’s strides and we start the one incline in the course, the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
I know Lena is struggling when her breathing becomes heavier and she starts to slow, so I turn to her and say, “You can do it!” At the 9km mark we’re over the bridge but I’m losing steam and out of rhythm.
Then my new friend turns to me and says, “You can’t give up now.” Well I don’t have a choice now, do I?
I’ve never appreciated running with anyone before but, with our strides in sync, we’re invincible. My last three kays are some of the fastest I’ve ever run, thanks to my running buddy (actually called Hannah).
This year’s race is on October 29. Find out more at aucklandmarathon.co.nz.