Brook Van Reenan first came up with the idea of doing 7 summits in 7 days after his mate Sally Law, did something similar with 7 summits of Roys Peak in Wanaka in 7 days while she was training for Northburn. Brook is training to run the length of New Zealand, from Bluff to Cape Reinga next year. It will be a lot tougher and will seem like he is going uphill most of the way, but he is ready for the challenge! Here is his story:
“Conditioning of my mental strength for when I run the Te Araroa trail in 2019 was the rationale for running 7 summits in 7 days. I took 9 days off work and I didn't want to do just one mountain, I wanted to do 7 different ones. I chose, Corner Peak, Mount Alpha, Isthmus Peak, Breast Hill, Mount Maude, Grandview and Ben Lomond- nothing like a week of summits to get the thighs and mind burning!
Saturday, Day 1, Corner Peak, 16.86 km, 1,719 m ascent.
Stoked that my challenge was underway I was rearing to go! I had some friends joining me, Malcolm Law, Sally Law and James Harcombe who picked me up in the morning and we headed out to Corner Peak in Lake Hawea near Timaru Creek. It was a nice day, a little windy but that wasn't stopping us! We got out of the truck and the #7in7 had begun! Corner Peak is tough from the get go, there is a steep climb until you get to a ridge line which has epic views. From there the orange poles get less and less and you have to follow your nose to the summit but the views are amazing, as you can see Dingle Peak in all its glory, up towards the Hunter River, Timaru Creek, Mount Aspiring on a good day, Lake Hawea! As an added bonus I could see 5 of the other peaks I was going to summit (yikes). I picked the hardest one to do first by a long shot, so it was great to have the Law’s and James's company, who are no stranger to big adventures. Day 1 done, we drove back to town so I could relax and get ready for day 2!
Sunday, Day 2, Mount Alpha, 20.50km, 1,464 m ascent.
I left home and headed over to Malcolm and Sally's house in the morning and by 8.30 am another Wanaka trail runner Neal Palmer joined us. We headed out the back door and literally jumped the fence and started the climb on a 4wd track up Mount Alpha .This is not the public route and I am grateful that Mal got permission from the owner. I could see the track zig zag up to a ridge line but as we got up further, Mal said ‘Oh we go up there!’ as we turned off the track and went up a steep ridge line. Just before we hit the main route it started getting cold. We stopped and put on a few extra layers as the sky was turning dark grey and thick clouds started rolling; “I don’t think we will hang around the summit long today!” We rolled on and finally reached summit number 2. Surprisingly (in a good way) the clouds hadn't turned into much. It was quite calm and we had snack with a nice view of Wanaka and the lake. Neal's banana bread hit the spot! After taking a few photos we started the run down to Spott's creek. This trail is awesome, home to one of Terry Davis's events The Ultra Easy 108 km, held every January usually on the hottest day of the year! Then in the other direction the Red Bull Skyline traverse!
We made it back to the truck which Mal had left here the night before and Day 2 was in the bag!
Monday, Day 3, Isthmus Peak, 15.95 km, 1,158 m ascent.
As it was Monday I was stoked I didn’t have to go to work! But as I rolled out of bed, I realised my legs were damn sore! No excuses, I had to get up! I was meeting Becky Nixon, a Queenstown trail runner, who was joining me on the mornings outing up Isthmus. I looked out the window, grey clouds covered the mountains. I put my Altra Lone Peaks on and loaded my gear into the car, then met Becky at the Albert Town pub. We run from the bottom and the mountain was still covered in cloud. Half way up we reached the fog, and it actually made the task easier, as you could only see fog. So we just plodded on. We got to the summit and the clouds had sort of broken off. After waiting about ten minutes it didn't clear any further so we started to jog down. Day 3 was a bit of a disappointment weather wise but I was in good company and we got it done! The coffee after tasted delicious!
Tuesday, Day 4 Breast Hill, 17.35 km, 1,488m ascent.
On Monday I went to bed listening to the sound of rain on the roof I woke up and it was still raining. Bugger. Breast Hill is a challenge on a normal day, even more so in the rain! It cleared up a bit and I could see fresh snow right where we were going. Another bugger – but a fun bugger! With the clouds lifting I could see that we could get it done. I was meeting Terry Davis, the race director for events such as the Ultra easy 108 km, Northburn and The Mount Difficulty Ascent. I had only ever seen and chatted with him at events so it was primo to spend the afternoon in the hills with him! I was meeting him at Johns Creek at 11am he pulled up and the first thing he said was that he felt he got ripped off because it had stopped raining! Regardless we started the plod up Breast Hill. As we got higher up the summit had dark clouds covering it and when we looked back towards Wanaka we could see rain clouds rolling in, which I pointed out to Terry, that he might be in luck after all! We got a move on, and soon we were in the cloud and the snow line. As we headed towards the summit we were in white out conditions, but we could see enough so we didn't turn back we carried on. It was quite eerie and surreal. Wearing all our clothing, Terry wanted us to make a video, to show that this is why we carry mandatory gear! However, we decided against that as it was too cold! Arriving at the summit it briefly cleared enough for a few pictures, but quickly headed to Pakituhi Hut via the 4wd track from the summit where we had something to eat and got a bit warmer! As we stepped outside it was snowing heavily (which was pretty awesome) so we quickly bailed and started to head back down. On the way down Terry got a call and had to head back to Cromwell so he boosted off and I carried on plodding. Day 4 done, but talk about 4 seasons in 4 days! That night I didn’t go to my usual local Tuesday night run, but joined them at the pub after for a beer and we planned out the next day where Sally was going to join me for her 3rd summit and John Iseli was keen to come as well.
Wednesday, Day 5, Mount Maude, 10.37 km, 1,053m ascent.
Wow day 5 already! I rolled out of bed and had a crook stomach. I didn't know what it was, so carried on got ready anyways, hoping I would shake it once I got going. Feeling better after breakfast, Sally picked me up and we headed to the bottom of the next peak, Mount Maude! John met us at the bottom. It was cool to head up there with those guys as they had never been up there before! You follow a 4wd road and then traverse to the summit where you can see awesome views of Lake Hawea, Wanaka, Corner Peak, Breast Hill, Mount Alpha and day six’s peak, Grandview! As it is a private farm I got permission first from the land owner. It was a nice run. The #7in7 challenge I made stipulates the peaks had to be over 1000m, luckily Maude was just over at 1053m… so day 5 in the bag!
Thursday, Day 6, Grandview, 20.11 km, 1,056m ascent
I woke up and felt way better. I think the short day on Maude helped and I had a good relaxing Wednesday afternoon. I rang the farmer of Grandview earlier in the week as it was closed to lambing. It is my favourite peak so I really wanted to get up there, I tracked down the farmer and he have us the go ahead, which was awesome. I loaded my pack in the car and headed out to Hawea. As I parked my car at the bottom, there were no clouds or wind in the sky; it was going to be an awesome morning! I was by myself today which didn't bother me at all, I had Dirt Church Radio episodes to catch up on! The climb was awesome, I was getting stronger all week. My body just got into a rhythm and knew what it had to do and it wasn't long before I reached the summit. I chilled at the summit and enjoyed having it all to myself. The run down was epic, everything seemed to gel and fall into place! I got to my car and met Angus the farmer and thanked him again for giving me the trail all to myself! Another one bites the dust!
Friday, Day 7, Ben Lomond, 15.85 km, 1,435 m ascent.
Day 7, who knew that I had it in me! It was the last day and I was stoked! Earlier on I tried to get a couple of Queenstown guys to come with me, but being a Friday made it impossible so I was on my own! I left Wanaka around 7 am and started the climb out of Queenstown at about 8am. It was another nice morning, a perfect way to finish the week. Before long I reached the saddle and started the climb to the summit where I passed about 5 goats, it was pretty cool watching them go about their day. I took a couple of photos and made my way to the summit where there was no one but a cheeky Kea. We hung out for a bit until he tried to eat my pack. You could see over Shotover Moonlight Country, where I can't wait to take on the marathon in February! It’s a nice gradient on the way down, so it was a pretty awesome run and a nice way to finish 7 peaks in 7 days! After 7 days, the car was my finish line. But there was no race director hugs, no friendly support, no one around me that knew what I had been through during the last 7 days… And no medal!
But that wasn't the point. Cape Reinga is the finish line, and the medal will be raising money for the mental health foundation. I am hoping along the way I get to meet people and run sections with them and then enjoy the days by myself. Much like I did in the #7in7. It was a great 7 days, I got to see some pretty epic views and hang out with some pretty cool people. As a bonus I have come out a lot stronger and look forward to my next few challenges; Queenstown Marathon on the 17th of November, The Luxmore Grunt on the 1st of December and Crush the Cargill on the 15th of December. Make sure you say hi if your around!"
The final stats!
Day 1 - Corner Peak, Hawea,
5h 35m, 16.86 km,1,719m
Day 2 - Mount Alpha, Wanaka,
4h 14m, 20.50 km, 1,464m
Day 3 - Isthmus Peak, Hawea,
2h 46m, 15.95 km, 1,158m
Day 4 - Breast Hill, Hawea,
3h 50m, 17.35 km, 1,488m
Day 5 - Mount Maude, Wanaka,
2h 50m, 10.37 km, 1,053m
Day 6 - Grandview, Hawea,
3h, 02m, 20.11 km, 1,056m
Day 7 - Ben Lomond, Queenstown,
3h, 22m, 15.85 km, 1,435m
Total time = 25 hours, Total Km = 117,
Total Elevation = 9,373m7