High Five-0 Challenge Day 44 - Putauaki (Mt Edgecumbe): Joker of the Mountain

The following is taken from the High Five-0 Challenge Blog

Quiz time: you have just run 47km through bush and forestry roads under a blazing sun. What do you do next? A) Have a drink; B) Have a nap; C) Climb a mountain.

If you answered A or B, congratulations, you're normal. If you've answered C, hi Mal!

For day 44, Mal decided it was a good idea to run a 51km ultramarathon that partly combined the courses of the Tarawera Ultramarathon and the King of the Mountain races but we don't even have time to discuss how crazy that idea was.

Mal really, really didn't want to get out of bed this morning. He felt nauseous and queasy and running was at the very bottom of the list of things he wanted to do. He reluctantly got up, ate enough breakfast to feed a small nation and put himself through the same early morning routine he's been putting himself through for the last 44 days.

He started the run still feeling nauseous and dizzy, absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I drove him to the start, as my skills along windy roads are flawless.

"It took me a while to get into the groove but eventually I did," he tells me. By "a while" he means longer than 20km because he wasn't exactly looking like the best version of himself when we first saw him around that point. "I was just tired. It's starting to catch up on me now."

He reached the Tarawera Falls car park 23km into the run and the prospect of sitting down had never seemed so appealing. A few minutes' rest on a foldout camping chair and some coconut water had him smiling again.

When he got up from the chair to continue on, Tarawera Ultramarathon director and all round top bloke Paul Charteris, who spent the day supporting the support crew and cheering for Mal, had a little surprise up his red shirt's sleeve.

Mal took the first steps into his High Five-0 journey 44 days ago at the Tarawera Ultramarathon. He ran over 42km of it, including a detour to bag Rangitoto Peak, meeting all cut off times that day, finishing at the Okataina aid station (where Rich Lang started the second leg of their two-person 85K relay). Today, Mal started running from that same spot and reached the finish line of the 60K event at the Tarawera Falls car park, 44 days, 6 hours and 15 minutes later.

Paul was honoured to present Mal with a finisher's medal and officially name him the last person to finish the 2015 60K Tarawera Ultramarathon (and the slowest entrant on record). "It was so good to have Paul supporting out there all day. He's such a good bloke, supports everything trail running related, especially if it's something around his hometown," Mal said.
"And that's a record no one is going to take away from me," he added. You take what you can get, I guess.

No one can tell whether it was the medal, the coconut water or the break on the camping chair but, somehow, Mal managed to power through the forestry road he'd been dreading, from the Tarawera Falls to the base of the mountain. He also changed into his Hoka shoes for that section and said "they worked a treat" along that terrain. It also helped that day leader Tim Day carried everything Mal needed so he could run without a pack and let the fresh air flow around his body, offsetting the heat of the day. Tim also kept reminding Mal to eat and drink, two things that sound pretty basic but can quickly be forgotten when you reach the level of tiredness Mal has now reached.

In the end, the forestry section "wasn't as horrendous" as Mal thought it was going to be, which is as much of a compliment as he can spare for that kind of running. "We were knocking the kilometres off in small chunks. Seeing the support crew every few kilometres helped with that."

When it got to the point when he didn't feel like eating any food, Mal switched to Perpetuem, on which he relied a lot today. "When I get tired and the prospect of solid food is not as appealing, I turn to Perpetuem and it always gets me through. It's just nice and easy on the stomach. Even when I didn't feel like eating, I was still getting the good stuff in."

When he reached Kawerau, he was craving another few minutes sitting in the shade. He sat on the chair and refused to get up before getting a few text donations in. "I needed something to keep me going and thought it'd be a good opportunity to ask people for some donations." Thanks to the power of the internet, we managed to get him going again.

With 47km on his legs that day, Mal reached the base of the mountain. From there, it didn't look as bad as the 750m+ climb it was to the top. "The way up is one of the most relentless and difficult climbs of the challenge. It doesn't look it but it is. It's pretty much a 40-degree slope the whole way, loose fine scoria, really hard stuff to climb, in the heat of the sun most of the way," Mal described. "It was also a lot more overgrown than last time I'd been there. We were bush bashing through gorse. You get fed up of battling overgrown stuff while climbing a really steep mountain so I think I broke my record for expletives again." The mountain that every year gets a new king got his joker today as Mal slowly but steadily worked his way up.

Steve managed to drive the Mazda BT-50 to the top and Mal finished his run high up, for a change. "It was nice to finish with a climb. I'd done 51km and enough work that I didn't feel like I needed to trash my legs anymore."

When Mal returned to Kawerau to meet the support crew, he found out he'd smashed his $400,000 goal for the Mental Health Foundation. The atmosphere was one of celebration and exhaustion couldn't keep him from smiling about his achievement.

"I wasn't supposed to find out because you were all trying to keep it secret from me but I happened to look at Facebook in the car and found out just 2 minutes before getting to you," he says, reminding the crew of how we had plans to surprise him with the news but the internet beat us to it. It didn't matter, really (well, not much anyway). Mal has now raised over $400,000 for the cause and we're not even mentioning the incredible amount of awareness he's been raising in the last 44 days.

Not one to rest on his laurels, it took him about 0.3 seconds to announce a new goal. The now (for the third and final time) revised target is $505,050 and Mal and his supporters are hard at work to get to it.

"I've raised the bar high because, even if we fall short (which I hope we don't), we'll still achieve something great. It's all about aiming high. Just because you've jumped a certain height, it doesn't mean you shouldn't raise the bar and try going higher."

Progress so far:
1418kms run
71,597 metres climbed
371h23 total time on feet

Mal is attempting the most audacious feat of endurance ever attempted on New Zealand soil - running 50 mountain marathons & climbing 50 peaks in just 50 days!
He and his support runners are aiming to raise at least $400,000 for the Mental Health Foundation NZ.
To follow his epic journey & see more photos visit https://www.facebook.com/high50challenge
To donate online go to Mal's fundraising page http://www.fundraiseonline.co.nz/MalcolmLaw/
Or you can text GOMAL to 2446 to donate $3 to the Mental Health Foundation

Made possible by the generous support of Partners Life, without whom none of this would be happening.

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