Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Superdune Half Marathon 2009

Bethells Beach SurfersOn Sunday I ran the Superdune half marathon. I was excited to do this race as much for the location as anything. Bethells Beach is one of the west coast black sand beaches. I've seen lots of photos of it in books and postcards, so I was looking forward to seeing it myself and grabbing a few photos of my own.

Bethells Beach is a ways from Albany, but it didn't take as long to get there as I thought it would, no more than 45 minutes of the hour or so I'd planned on.   After parking and signing in, I had almost two hours to kill before the race start. I grabbed a cup of coffee from the van at the race HQ, picked up my camera, and headed down to the beach. The light was flat and grey, with a bit of mist, but I could see patches of sun now and then. Only a couple of my morning pictures turned out, but I could see that there was potential for later.

Superdune - The DunesI wandered around for a bit, then headed back to HQ for the race briefing, and to watch the multisport race start.

The start of our race took us into the black sand dunes straight away (hence the name).

Superdune - Creek runAround the other side of the dunes, we dropped into a shallow creek, and followed it along like a road. I always love these bits of an off-road run. It's like playing in the puddles on a stormy day  when you're a kid. It's not something you'd usually do if you just came out here to go tramping around outside of the race format.
SuperduneAfter the creek run, we climbed up a large hill overlooking the beach. I won't post everything here, but there are a few more photos on Flickr. I'll probably add a few more to that set as I fix them up.

The course then dropped down off the hill and back onto the beach. We had one little channel crossing to do (about knee deep) to get back onto the main beach.

After the beach run we had a massive uphill climb followed by roller coaster ups and downs. I think the stats on the course were that the highest point was 230 meters or so, but the course as a whole has 750 meters of climbing. Yow! It was quite a slog on the uphills, and the red sticky clay that piled up on your shoes and accumulated every loose thing you stepped on didn't help. ;-)

The view from the top of all that was quite amazing. It always blows me away how far 20 kilometers is when you see it all laid out like this. In the photo below, the race start is about where you see the structures at center-right. The dunes are out of frame to the right. The first big climb is the dark green hill right in the center, with the course rejoining the beach on the far side. The beach run is obvious, and the red clay climb goes from there to the point where this photo was taken (which I think is just past 12-15k or so).
Superdune - Bethells Beach from Above

After the big climb, we dropped down through some pine forest, back to the dunes and the creek again. We started the first hill again, but this time around we cut out of it early and made a beeline back to the finish.

I'd finished near the tail end of the mens 21k field with a time of 2:33 (too much time messing around taking photos I think).   There were still plenty of multisport racers out there. I watched a bunch more people finish, then I grabbed my SLR and headed down to see how things were looking at the beach.

Despite my sore legs I made the hike down to the far end of the beach to check out the big sea cave and see what was around the big rocks at the end. On the way back the sun popped in and out of the mist, creating a rainbow over the beach. The combination of patches of blue sky and the white puffy clouds was quite amazing. I'm really bummed that none of my photos come close to doing it justice.

I'm not sure what the problem was. I shot with almost the same settings, lenses, and filter setup that I used for my Coromandel photos, but those turned out much better. I think maybe the UV and Polarizing filters on my small lens didn't work out well with the misty clouds. Unfortunately, due to an accident years ago involving a drop from some height and a rock, the threads of the UV filter are pretty much locked into my small lens. :-(

Anyway, here are my favorite few from that hike after the race. There's more on Flickr, and I'll add in whatever others I salvage in post processing as I get around to it.

Bethells Beach

Bethells Beach Surf

Bethells Beach - Surf Lifesaver Hut and Rainbow

I was also bummed to see that almost all the surfers were gone by the time I got done taking photos. That usually means that its either no longer fun or getting dangerous. Ah well, probably best that I wasn't too tempted to grab my boogie board. Another hour or two of kicking around in flippers probably would have been way too much for my worn out legs.

Another Photo in Wikipedia

This one's in the German Wikipedia article on the Tongariro River.

Tongariro Kayak Expedition

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My Photo in Wikipedia

I noticed some unusual stat numbers on my Flickr photos the other day and discovered that one of my photos is in Wikipedia now.

I have three that have been pulled into the Wikimedia Commons, but this is the first one (that I know of) that's been put into an article in the English Wikipedia. It's a photo of a cruise ship docked in Tauranga Harbour used in the Port of Tauranga article:


Tauranga Harbour