A goal to complete all the Great Walks in New Zealand has drawn Maree Carson to tackle the Kepler Challenge for the very first time.
The Wellington-based runner said she thought taking part in the race would be a much better fit for her to tick off the Kepler Track, rather than simply going and having a “tramp”.
Mrs Carson, who is visually impaired, will be guided in the race with the assistance of two guides, who will help her traverse the track in what will also be her first ever ultra marathon.
“I have only two degrees of peripheral vision, no depth perception and am totally night blind,” she said. “When running thetrails I run with a guide who I follow closely and we often hold a walking pole at either end so I can stay on track…they will need to communicate with me throughout being sure to point out all the rocks, roots, ditches and any other hazards that may appear.”
She said they had been training together on the weekends leading up to the race throughout a variety of trails in Wellington and added that training is “one of my favourite things about doing events”.
“I love exploring new trails around Wellington and having good yarns with my guides.”
Mrs Carson has spent the last three months training with five different runs a week as well as a variety of strength sessions.
Previously she has completed a 600km cycle tour of Europe as well as competing in the 2016 New York Marathon, which she said ignited a flame in her to try out differentevents.
“NYC was the most incredible marathon and I thought no road marathon could ever compete so I started getting into trail running then. Completing the NYC marathon gave me the confidence to achieve bigger goals.”
She has since competed in the Xterra trail series in Wellington, Abel Tasman Coastal Classic, Round the bays Half Marathon and WUU2k Wellington.
Mrs Carson said that the main goal for her in the challenge would be to finish it.
“I really just want to enjoy the day and everything the Kepler has to offer. I am keen to stop and take photos and admire the beauty. As long as I finish I don’t mind how long it takes us.”
This article was originally written for The Advocate. You can read the published version here