Tirohanga: Mission up Roy’s Peak

During 2020’s Lockdown’s here in NZ, I got connected with the absolute Weapon, Firefighter and Ultra Runner; Helen Waterworth. Helen had just been accepted into the gnarliest adventure race, where failure is the most likely outcome, The Revenant. In preparation she had entered the Taupo 100Km. Of course not being able to go anywhere, and being on a farm beneath the Ruahine Ranges, I caught the Ultra Bug and began ticking off a bucket list item of my own and entered an Ultra.

I have found with many things in my life so far, there are always levels to these things. Growing up in Invercargill, I had a surface understanding of the type of weapons who would run the Kepler Challenge, Guys like Steve Gurney in the coast to Coast, or Nathen Fa’ave in God’s Own and Southern traverse. I was already a keen follower of Cameron Hanes and David Goggins, not to mention having spoken with Lisa Tamati on the podcast, but The Revenant, that was something else.

Watching via Instagram, I remember heading to work in Waipukurau on Friday the 15th of Jan, 2021. The Athletes had left the start line sometime in the early morning, and all were in the race. The previous day had been full of lots of ambiguous clues, and nervous laughter from the athletes accompanied by slightly more sinister laughter from the organisers. Helen was in the back end of the field but full of smiles as she made the check points. Towards the front of the field was a legend by the name of Ian Evans, with a novelty Hawaiian shirt and a grin from Ear to ear.

I left work and headed over the Ruahine’s to Palmerston North to my friends House Warming and was enthralled by the fact these people were still at it, traversing gigantic spurs through massive tussock and spear grass. Having only just recovered from my 7.5hours on Banks Peninsula, I was blown away at what I was watching on Instagram.

Come Saturday morning, waking up somewhat dusty after enjoying all P Naughty’s nightlife had to offer. There was Ian still going. A dip in my mates pool and a cooked breakfast started to clear my head, but the perseverance and positivity of this guy still going for it was one of the best hangover cures I’ve ever had.

As the day turned to night and the festivities continued in Palmerston North, partygoers were stuck to their vapes, while I was glued to my phone catching the updates. Ian Powered through the night. Next morning the hangover cure was even more potent and I made my way back to Havelock North. By the time I was home, three days later, Ian had done it. He got to Drink the Whiskey and completed one of the most Epic Adventures NZ has to offer.

I was lucky enough to have Ian on the podcast not long after and an Online Friendship began. Most Friday’s I’d see Ian make it up Roy’s Peak in Wanaka for an epic Sunrise and follow along his other epic adventures. Having Walked and struggled the peak in 2010 and again weighing in at 104Kg and 7s Fit in 2013, I knew that what this guy and the people who joined him were capable of was something as Remarkable as the Mountain Range above Queenstown Airport. I made a silent pact to myself that the next time I was in the paradise of Wanaka, I was going to attack it again, preferably with Ian.

That brings me to Jan 6th 2023, I was reliving my childhood and sharing the wonders of Glendhu Bay with my Daughter, Partner Nicole and her Daughter. The Previous day I had popped into Mountain Outdoors and confirmed a start time of just prior to 5:30am with Ian and the plan was made. I woke just before my 5am alarm with nervous excitement (they’re the same thing you know?). I put on my gear that I’d prepared the night before. As I left the toilet block after a nervous one, I had a sinking feeling which was shortly confirmed; The Camp Gate’s were locked. Not to be undone, I messaged Ian and he agreed to pick me up. Not wanting to waste time, I put on my head torch and began a jog towards Roys Peak. I had almost made it to the Mount Aspiring/Tititea lookout, when Ian’s 93 Surf Rumbled towards me. He was cracking up at the idea of someone else running along Wanaka-Mount Aspiring Road at 5:20am in a head torch, but I thought to myself- “This is Wanaka”.

After the small crisis was averted there was nothing left to do but do it. Ian kept my enthusiasm in check on the steep parts, took me through the short cuts, and we kept a good pace. We fast packed most of the way, chatting as we went, or getting into a mild run when I had some breath and feeling in my feet. Fionn Fooles and Danny Warley managed to get past us not far into the DoC area and the excitement between the crew lifted with a few hollers and hoots. We made it to “Instagram Corner” and attacked the steep ridge to the top. The Lads had waited for us at the summit and we snapped off some Epic photos: lets be honest, its hard to have a bad photo with a back drop like that, and speaking of ‘Instagram Corner”, if it wasn’t posted on the gram (or blogged about for that matter) did it really happen?

We ran down the hill, however in my inexperience I forgot to tighten my shoes. I had the pleasure of enjoying the last 2/3rds of Roy with blisters all over the soles of my feet. Its not called type 2 fun for nothing.

So make sure you are following The Revenant and enjoy the motivation and inspiration from some “local” (three Englishmen) Wanaka legends.


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