Guest Blog: Hawke’s Bay Marathon Course

By Georgia Saxon // Georgia now calls Hawke’s Bay home and to help all those out of towers know what to expect from this brand new race, she has checked out the Hawke’s Bay Marathon course in its entirety and detailed it here. 

You know the old adage “Stick to your day job”? That applies to my skills in mapping out a marathon course. So with that in mind, read on and rest assured that the course is mapped out by people that know what they are doing.

On a Friday morning, having compared Google Maps to the course map and laid it all out on MapMyRun, I drop the kids off at school. I cycle from Havelock North to Napier (a half marathon ride of 21.5km) with a full phone battery. I’ve forgotten my paper map but hey, I’ve got my phone.

The marathon starts in Napier on Marine Parade, just north of the National Aquarium. It quickly turns away from the sea, crossing over the railway and State Highway 2 and onto Te Awa Ave, going past Napier Boys High School.

My first thought is, “They’re saving the best for last”, because this has got to be one of the least picturesque starts to a marathon course, basically running through the not-so-art-deco ‘burbs’ of Napier. After a good two kilometres of uninspiring suburbs, it goes past a golf course. So I’m still on the road and the scenery just improved.

Along Awatoto Road, past Meeanee (Meandwho?) Domain, it then takes a left along Brookfields Road. It starts to get a whole lot better now because I leave civilisation behind and head for wide, open spaces. At this point, I’m actually not far from the start of the half marathon but there ain’t no straight line to get there. I join the red cycle track (otherwise known as ‘The Water Ride’), turn around on myself and the line between road race and trail run starts to blur a little. I also get my first proper hill, just at the 9km mark.

Hawkes Bay Hill 1

First hill of the Hawke’s Bay Marathon: short and sharp.

Hawkes Bay - red cycle path

Red Cycle Path (just after the first hill)

The cycle trail is predominantly flat. The surface is limesand which translated means: hard packed dirt with a sandy surface. Mountain bikes cope with the surface better than road bikes. Do you need trail shoes? No. It’s been dry in Hawke’s Bay and there’s no mud that I can see, only some cowpats to play dodgems with here and there.

Hawkes Bay - red cycle path2

Red Cycle Path along Tutaekuri River

The red cycle trail takes me along the Tutaekuri River where I go under State Highway 2 and go north-east along the Ngaruroro River towards Pakowhai Country Park and the halfway mark. I like being high up on the cycle paths, above the orchards and farmland. The views are great and I think that will keep up the motivation when running the course.

Once I get to Pakowhai Country Park, I regret leaving my map at home. My phone battery dies and I realise that I have done over 40km of cycling, there is little likelihood of finding any shops and I’m hungry, having forgotten any snacks. Thank heavens for ample water supplies. I find a woman walking her dog and ask her whether I’m heading in the right direction for Ormond Road which is where the course is supposed to go next. She’s a bit grumpy to find out that there is a marathon going through here next Saturday and says “But this park is for dog-walking.” I don’t dare point out that it’s for everyone and not just dog-walkers. She tells me twice that she will be walking her dog elsewhere next Saturday. “Good job,” I cheer internally.

Hawkes Bay Half Start

Aaah, pretty! The start of the Hawke’s Bay Half Marathon: Pakowhai Country Park

And this is where I get a bit lost, taking a few wrong turns. But you won’t because there will be signposts and people cheering. And I didn’t really get lost because all roads lead to Hastings and Bridge Pa and I found a nice farmer who gave me sterling directions.

You’ll be on road for the first half of the half marathon (or the third quarter of the marathon). It goes through Twyford which is a lovely, flat orchard area. You’ll get your first glimse of wineries as you head towards the Bridge Pa triangle. Then comes what should be the crowning glory of this marathon. You have the privilege to run through privately owned vineyards just as your energy is flagging. And you finish up at a vineyard/winery: Sileni Estates. That’s surely an incentive to run faster at the end, the thought of primo Hawke’s Bay wines awaiting you along with other gourmet fare. I live here. I’m not biased.

Got a question about the course for Georgia? Ask away below.


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