It was my lovely wife who suggested that perhaps what I needed for motivation was to enter a race. Not just any race, but my all time favourite race, the Tarawera Ultramarathon. If I entered in June, that would give me eight or nine months to get myself up to pace before race day. Of course, my recent history of entering ultramarathon a was hardy stellar. Three years previously I had signed up for the same race, only to find out barely weeks later that we were expecting our second child. Surely history couldn't repeat though, could it?
Don't let me down, Neil Finn
But... There was still an opening here! Rachel seemed convinced that this was an excuse to upgrade our perambulation equipment, and it turned out there was a specialist paediatric transportation shop just down the road from my parents' house! Soon, an expensive Thule Urban Glide double running buggy had arrived on our doorstep in a massive box, bearing the promise 'fits through most doors.'
|Perfect for transporting your relationship's third AND fourth wheels|
Unsurprisingly, pushing a stroller with twice the child-carrying capacity came with some downsides compared to the standard single buggy I was used to pushing. For one thing, it was twice the weight when fully laden. Secondly, I couldn't get into supermarkets with it, as although Thule had taken into mind the width of 'most doors,' they hadn't given any thought to those one way clacky supermarket security gates.
I needed to test the pram with a decent run, however. I checked with my old mate Mike as to whether there is a current double-stroller marathon world record, in the hope that if it was vacant, I could claim it by default. Unfortunately he thought there probably was. So I'd have to do some training, build up to the distance, so I allowed myself to be talked into a local charity 10km fun run along the local Manawatu river tracks.
The use of the term fun run should have raised alarm bells to start off with. I enjoy running. At least the idea of running. I'm not sure I could every describe it as truly 'fun' though. It's a grind, especially when you find yourself pushing a combined 40kg of child and pram.
So this morning I packed the kids into the Urban Glide, chucked in a couple of soft toys and snacks in the oh-so-sizeable zipable compartment at the base of the buggy, and headed out towards the startline. We started at the back of the pack in expectation of lack of fitness causing slow going, but soon, true to its name, the wheels started to smoothly glide across the frictionless asphalt, and we were impatiently overtaking other competitors. However, It wasn't long until my arms began to let me know exactly how displeased they were at having to propel the equivalent of a fully laden shopping trolley in front of them.
Not just a sedate, well-behaved shipping trolley though. This one had an attitude. Two attitudes even. 'Start running faster,' it scolded. 'I don't want to come last, overtake those people in front of us!' 'Can I have some chocolate now?' 'Why are you walking up this hill?' 'Why did grandma send their goldfish to the old goldfish hospital, and when is it coming back?' 'I'm hungry, I want some chocolate.' 'DON'T PUSH ME IN THE WATER!!!' 'PLEEEEAAAASE can we have some chocolate?'
Still, having a couple of not completely unsightly small children being pushed in front of me was proving a good way of getting additional support from bystanders. We reached the turnaround point, and headed back along the river. 3km to go, and a martial shouted at us, 'you're 4th, 5th and 6th.' It barely needed pointing out that the 6th place was held by the guy doing all the work. We passed a couple of firefighters, waking the 10km distance in full uniform, and with oxygen tanks on their back. Their extra load at least seemed better distributed than mine was.
A further 500m on, we were suddenly surrounded by walkers out for the shorter 5km option, and the superior manoeuvrability provided by the single front wheel, far in excess of what you'd expect from a double pram, came into its own. The comments kept on coming from other competitors: 'Oh, seeing you push that makes me feel guilty!' Feel free to trade places with me, then.
Finally, the finish line was in sight. A few posed photos, then I deftly tried to flip around, so I could cross the finish line before the kids. I'd done all the hard work, and I was going to be damned if the free-wheeling kids finished before I did. Unfortunately, all I managed to was to narrowly avoid flipping the buggy right in front of their mother. Insult was added to injury as my son was handed a consolation spot prize as soon as we'd uprighted ourselves. Nothing for Dad.
This was probably the first long run I've done where I've ended with my arms notably more weary and sore than my legs, but all in all, the three of us did have an enjoyable time, and the Thule Urban Glide provided probably the easiest and most comfortable means for me to complete such a run with two preschoolers in tow. And we beat the dad with the Phil and Ted double buggy, so read into that what you will.
And now, I guess, we're looking onwards, to the Ashhurst to Esplanade half marathon next month. That double buggy marathon record awaits.