Before I left for New Zealand, I promised to report on any interesting runs down under. "The Dual" (www.thedual.co.nz) was certainly interesting — a 42km run on Rangitoto and Motutapu, two connected islands in the Auckland harbour. Rangitoto is an iconic backdrop to Auckland, a 260m volcanic cone formed some 600 years ago. It’s mostly covered in native bush, with a rough "scoria" rock surface. Motutapu, in contrast, is all rolling hills and pasture. As well as the 100 marathoners, the event included a half-marathon option (with 600 competitors) and a 50km mountain bike (with another 600 riders).

The marathon started at a bay on the far side of Motutapu, with a stiff initial climb leading to 8km of rolling hills, giving some stunning views out over the harbour. Then it was over the causeway to Rangitoto, and up a steadily deteriorating trail to the summit. My downhill running in Scotland has clearly made a difference, and I picked up several places in the descent. The next 7km section was a tricky coastal track, and back to Motutapu for the second half of the run. This wound up and down along farm roads, with the exception of a short forest path section. With the heat starting to take its toll, the last 8km was hard going. I finished in 4:29 for 11th veteran male and 32nd overall. The winning time was 3:09.

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