Tails Before The Trail #4: Tail End Charlie at the Ultra Easy.

Brook van Reenen is training to fastpack the length of New Zealand. This is the fourth installment of his physical and mental journey of preparation...

7 peaks in 7 days

Chilly weather when I ran the 7 peaks in 7 days...

While running the 7 peaks in 7 days that the race director of the Ultra Easy, Terry, asked me to be Tail End Charlie for the Ultra Easy Marathon. I had raced it the previous two years so I was keen as!

Marshaling duties meant a 3 am start… I loaded my car with supplies, which included running gear and sleeping stuff. The plan was to sleep in my car near the finish line.

I drove in with Tom Booth, who was going to camp as well. There was a nice spot next to the famous High 50 van, Sally Law from Wild Things came out and we had a couple of beers… no point in taking it too seriously, she reckons! She was there for redemption as she pulled out of the 107 km in 2018 and soon enough James Harcombe, came and joined us as he was also lining up to take on the big loop around Wanaka!

Terry started the race briefing and it was an interesting listen! He said you can drink out of all the creeks but he was a local and doesn’t reckon it would ever affect him! He also did the full course in 19 hours on Thursday putting out markers and thought that everyone taking it on was crazy! He also got the lawn mower out for part of the course… only at a Terry Davis event!

Time to sleep. I headed to my car and set the alarm. Shit! It was going to go off in 4 hours! I probably should have gone to bed earlier…  2 am rolled around and I woke up and had a bite to eat, but it was pretty hard that time of the morning! I was getting ready when Sally came out of her van and offered me a cup of tea which went down really well. For someone who was about to travel 107 km by foot, she was super cool, calm and collected.  The standard for Sally!

All of the runners started arriving and soon there was a bit of a vibe as supporters wished their runners well. Terry made them line up in numerical order and ticked them off, wished them a good day, and started the race at 3 am!

I got in my car and followed Terry. My first duty was to direct the 100 km’ers 2 km’s in. Once they all got through, my next job was to direct them up the Mount Iron trail. By this time the course had opened up and before long I was off to my 3rdand last aid station; the Roy’s Peak car park.

As I arrived the first couple of leaders were heading up the hill. One of which included my mate from Cromwell, Kieren Phillip. He sorted out his gear from his drop bag and started the grind up Roys Peak.

the aid station ultra easy

Kieren get some cool aid at the aid station!


My job here was to tick off all the runners as they came through. It was interesting to see who was going hard and who was being sensible and taking it easy. Soon enough as a wicked sunrise started to unfold Mal Law turned up and was helping out while he was waiting for Sally. One by one the runners came and went. I was chatting to Glenn Sutton, who had heard about my trip running Te Araroa, and as we were talking about it two people - one to my right and one to Glenn’s left  - both said they were also following along my journey! It was kind of weird that people know me and I don’t know them as I’m quite a shy person…  but it was cool to meet them and good practice for the trip!

Seeing all the runners with smiles on their faces made me feel excited… as running the Te Araroa I will be feeling that freedom each day.

Soon it was time to head up to the Snow Farm where I was ready for my next task, Tail end Charlie the marathon. I went down to check out where we start and ran into Kieran again, who was crushing the 100 km!

Normally I am one to start a race in about the middle of the pack, it was strange taking off last. Terry’s instructions were to hang at the back for the first quarter and then cruise along checking on people at the back of the field, as there were support vehicles still coming through. It was great running along the Snow Farm trails.

It was a pretty warm afternoon through those valleys and the scenery is some of the best around. Everyone I talked to was enjoying their day and no one was in any trouble which was cool! After a while, we made it to Sally’s pinch, where it was really starting to blow! It was unreal, I had never been in winds like it before. At this stage, I started moving pretty quickly to get off the hill! Before you head down to Lake McKay I spotted Jo Bailey, a local Wanaka runner and snapped a cool photo of her which looks like she is running somewhere on another planet!!


Looks like the moon or mars even!


I stopped at the lake and took a couple more photos then stopped at the next aid station where Mal Law was heading up the hill looking for Sally! We had a quick yarn and as it was still blowing like crazy, I was keen to get down so I carried on.

Not quite out of the wine

Not quite out of the wind yet!

With 12 km’s left, we were finally out of the gale force winds. It was all downhill to the finish and strangely enough, I still had energy and ran well to the end! I passed a few people towards the end, I thought Terry would tell me off for not doing my tail end Charlies duties correctly. But he said I had done exactly what I was meant too! Phew!!

As usual Grant Guise from Altra New Zealand, was at the finish line giving everyone a hard time but it was cool to hang out, eat pizza, drink the well-earned beers and watch the other runners come in. The 100 ker’s all looked like they had been into battle and it was inspiring to watch them cross that finish line.

It was awesome to actually help out at an event and give something back. I was stoked the next day to get messages from people who thanked me for helping them, and to meet those people out there who have decided to follow me on this crazy journey! With just under 2 weeks until Shotover moonlight marathon and then the Motatapu double 4 weeks later the next tales before the trail blog should be a goody!


 Written by Brook van Reenen. You can follow him on facebook @thelongrun19 

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