Lake Taupo and the desert road


Alpaca in New Zealand?

A couple more decent running days takes me close to Lake Taupo. About 27km before the lake, the biggest in all of New Zealand.

Kate Townslee drives out to meet me on the road. I finish my day at the Equestrian Cafe. Kate commutes me to Taupo where I stayed for two nights with her and her partner Steve and children Hannah and Mathew.

Thanks Kate!

They are wonderful people. Kate has been helping me here as a co-ordinator on Facebook and has been very enthusiastic about my run around the world. She is originally from York in England. She came to New Zealand over 11 years ago on a holiday to visit her brother who was working here on a 12 month work visa. She fell in love with the Kiwi lifestyle here telling me that all her keep fit sessions back in England were dances in night clubs! When she arrived in Taupo she could not swim but within a year she was competing in Iron Man events. She works as a cookery teacher in a local school. Kate also designed her own trendy sportswear range called Kori Kita, see HERE

I asked Steve why New Zealand are such a rugby force for such a small population 4.5 millions similar to Ireland.

” Because we steal all the huge Fijians, and the tough players from Tonga and West Samoa. ” Was his reply.

I read somewhere that a tough perseverance is built into their genes as when the original Maouri’s settled here that the land was not suitable for growing crops and vegetables, it was just soft clay. To make it work they had to work the land extremely hard. Hard work, relentlessness to beat the odds is ingrained deeply in their genetic makeup.

Next morning Kate drives me back at the Equestrian Cafe and I run to Taupo and meet Kate there for an ice cream or four that day, very hot!

Lake Taupo

We run around part of the east side of the lake which looks like a map of Africa to me. It’s a lovely day, even if hot, we run along the trails right up at the lake for its nice to get off the road for a change.

We stop for yet another cola and ice lolly. I got a shock when the proprietor wouldn’t fill up my water bottle as someone attempted to sue him before saying they got very ill on his water, as he said he would rather not go down that road again. I did not count it as a dreaded water refusal, instead we ended up having a laugh, taking photos and him saying he would send a comment to this blog. Still I left wondering what would happen to the journey runners, walkers and cyclists of this world if this became such a scam that the people of the world took this view. We filled up at a nearby house. We finished running about 3km north of Hatebe 47 km for me that day.

Having another laugh with Kate

Then I tough another hot day out, forward relentless motion gives me a 55km reward for my efforts. that afternoon I received a text from Gill from Co. Mayo in Ireland. She tells me she has a half day and asks how she can help me as she is willing to come out to the road and crew for me for a while. fair play to her when she does come out she is waving an Irish tri-colour and crews for an hour. Before she finishes Gill hands me the flag.

We have a great laugh and she copes very easy how to crew. At the end of the day I ask her to find a junction or as I have been corrected many times here ‘ an intersection ‘ or unusual sign, like Mayo for the All-Ireland!! so as I can photograph it for my end of day marker.

Gill crews for me.

Amazingly New Zealand has no kilometre markers so far in the north island. I have questioned people and they just ask me what are kilometre markers! I therefore calculate my daily distances by Google Maps, Map My Run.com or on a commuting vehicles trip counter. Kudos to Gill she has no hesitation in commuting me 150km round trip and says she will do so tomorrow, another 150km round trip as well when returning me to today’s finish, plus another 100km plus when I eventually move out of her range. All this because she lives off the main road in a village called Ohakune.

We stop for Fish and chips for me at least and chips for Gill as she is a vegetarian.

Some scenes from Lord Of The Rings were filmed around the volcanoes in this area

Like Kate, Gill instantly fell in love with New Zealand, she has been here many years now working as a researcher in a paper mill. She explained the process and problems with pulp but my lame joke of ‘ sounds like a lot of paperwork? ‘ went over her head, or perhaps she ignored it as she said ” No I don’t work in the office, I work in a laboratory! ”

Back in Gills house I met Gemma an old house mate who is staying for the weekend. Gill can’t believe all this activity.. ” This is amazing, all this activity, there is usually nothing for me to do here only play my tin whistle she tells me.

Gemma is very nice but has a slight gullible streak. She told us that she is going to work as a scientist on some remote island which is 1,000km away from anywhere. There will be about six scientists and researchers and she says it is her dream job. She will be on the island for 12 months. I ask her about how she is going to manage with all the cannibals there!

Gemma breaths a sigh of relief when I tell her I was only joking about the cannibals!

” What, she says in disbelief!

” Tony are you serious! ”

” Yes I read it on Wikipedia! ” I replied.

” But don’t worry Gemma the cannibals there are vegetarians just like Gill, “ man eater!

Ah Yes! you can’t beat a good wind up!

Then Gill tells me there are a lot of earthquake tremors in this region. She shocks me by saying.

” Tony wouldn’t it be great if there was an earthquake tonight! Wouldnt it be marvelous, imagine you would have something to write on your blog! ”

I tell Gill there is no shortage of blog material and to keep watching!


In Gills bedroom the duvet is satin, black satin, almost satanic.  She has lovely soft white sheets which roll back effortlessly. She turned off the light with a big smile. She is a woman so used to getting her own way, not to be messed with.

Back in the kitchen she says to me.

” Tony do you want to sleep in my bed tonight? But you need a shower”

A big gulp and I splutter out ” Whaaaatttt! ” :(  I say in astonishment.

” You can sleep in my bed because you are so tired. I will sleep out here in my sleeping bag on the sofa. ”

Ah Tony, a gentleman to the end! :)

Next day the running gentleman runs the rest of the so called desert road, 60km of nothingness through Tongariro National Park with stunning views of the active Tongariro and Ruapehu volcanoes. Then I run through Waiouru I am about to call Gill to come out and pick me up. A cop car pulls over on the shoulder or verge as they call it here. A television cameraman gets out. The cop starts off by telling me that ‘ they lost a driver ‘ because a motorist didn’t expect to see a runner on the road! Not sure if this means a cop or one of the community was killed I backed off a bit but I really wanted to ask why he is making problems for legal runners running in the verge and not giving the grief to the deserving motorists for their poor and probably reckless driving. He told me I couldn’t run on the road after dark that night, I didn’t argue as I was going back to Gills that night anyway.

All this time the cameraman continued to film. It’s a bit like ‘ Cops ‘ Kiwi Kops!

Kiwi Kops

Then he starts asking me about the run and South America, and then the food there. These are not normal police questions I was thinking.

” Peruvian, Bolivian and  Ecuadorian food is the most disgusting food in the world, I lost 6 kilos there. ”  I told the cameraman. He turned off the camera. I asked him where he was from.

” Ecuador, he says.

” You don’t like our food! ”

Oh! Yes once again I put my foot in it, what’s new!

Gill and Gemma pick me up, a quick shower and we rush off to a bar-b-q

Annie and Pete are the hosts, they are very nice. It’s a huge barbie and I have three steaks and about four sausages. Dublin woman Laura with Ray her New Zealand husband who looks like a big tough All Blacker, their  two daughters were also there. Laura is a friend of Gill.

Annie plays the spoons

Gill told me that Laura who is head of Human Resources in the paper mill was lonely for Irish company in the small village of Ohakune. So when Gill sent in her job application a delighted Laura read her job application, then phoned her up on her mobile.

” And ……And…..And you are from Ireland too And around my age! How great! Yippe! You got the job! ” said Laura.

Thats Laura dressed as a zebra!

Another man called Paul has a strong Kiwi accent, I was having problems understanding him. He tells me he is a runner but he is now injured.

I ask him what happened, so he says…

“ I got up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet and fell over my dick! ”

” What!?”

” I got up to go to the toilet and as it was such a nice night I went out to my deck and fell over on it. ” He explained.

Puzzled by my laughter I explained what I thought he had said.

” Well Tony I wouldn’t dream of boasting about my long deck! ”

Certainly makes me feel very small!

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5 Responses to “Lake Taupo and the desert road”

  1. Kate Says:

    Great to read about your adventures and fantastic to be part of it. Kia Kaha! Go Hard!

  2. Ray from Ohakune Says:

    Hi Tony,
    Have just read your blog concerning your stay here in Ohakune and honestly cracked up laughing!!!
    Was great to spend sometime with you at the BBQ and see you on your way the next day.
    All the best for your run

    Ray & Laura (the Irish HR Manager)

  3. kevin scanlon Says:

    tony, it appears the people of new zealand have taken to you fondly. fair play to the irish emigrants who appear to be helping along the way. keep it going, kevin.

  4. Ann Says:

    What a great witty blog. Got a great laugh reading it. Glad the Irish and English are taking you into their hearts and homes. I can just imagine you milling into all the steaks and sausages at the BBQ. Ann :)

  5. Greg Havely Says:

    And on to Christchurch—-great write this time Tony—-as always I guess!!!—-Gotta love that Kiwi hospitality–just make sure you don’t trip on their decks and hurt yourself hahaha
    good running-Greg

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About Tony

I have always considered myself to be an average runner. In school, I was even bullied for I was a sports wimp. Through hard work, dedication, perseverance, self-belief and a strong mind I succeeded in not only running around the world but breaking four ultra running world records during my competitive career. Having previously cycled around the world I didn't start running until I was almost 30. Then I had a dream of running around the world. For many reasons, I waited for over 20 years. One reason was to establish my pedigree as an endurance athlete. I started and finished my world run as the current World Record-Holder for 48 Hours Indoor Track 426 kilometres (265 miles), a record I have held since 2007. I also broke and still hold the World Record for 48 hours on a Treadmill 405 kilometres (251 miles) in 2008. When I retired from competition, more pleasing than any of my world, European or Irish records I had the respect of my fellow athletes from all over the world - in my opinion, sports greatest reward - an achievement I am most proud of. Then I finally put myself out to pasture, to live my ultimate dream to run around the world! This blog was written on the road while I struggled to find places to sleep and to recover from running an average of 43.3 kilometres or 27 miles per day for 1,165 road days. There were many nights I typed this blog on a smart phone, so fatigued my eyes closed. Many journalists and endurance athletes have referred to my world run as the most difficult endurance challenge ever attempted. During my expedition I rarely had any support vehicles, running mostly with a backpack. In the more desolate areas I pushed my gear, food and water in a cart which I called Nirvana, then I sent her on ahead to run with my backpack once again over altitudes of almost 5,000 metres in the Andes. I stayed in remote villages where many people had never seen a white person before. I literally met the most wonderful people of this world in their own backyard and share many of those amazing experiences in this blog. My run around the world took 4 years. There were no short cuts, I ran every single metre on the road while seeking out the most comprehensive route across 41 countries, 5 continents, I used 50 pair of running shoes and my final footstep of the run was exactly 50,000 kilometres, (almost 31,000 miles) I eventually finished this tongue in cheek named world jog where I started, at the finish line of my city marathon. I started my global run with the Dublin Marathon on October 25th 2010 and finished with the Dublin Marathon on October 27th 2014 at 3 05pm! Thank you for your support, I hope you can share my unique way of seeing the world, the ultimate endurance challenge! Read more...


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