Runner traces footsteps of ancestors

Te Puia’s Liza Brickhill, Kiri Coromandel, Brooke Walker and Piripi Inia set to tackle Tarawera trails. Supplied photo

When Te Puia's Piripi Inia lines up at the start line of the Tarawera Trail Marathon and 50km, he'll be retracing the footsteps of his ancestors.

The Te Arawa descendent says when he is out on the trails and feels a bit low, it is those ancestors he calls upon and draws inspiration from.

“I remind myself that they walked this exact same route, barefoot and with food and babies in tow, and that is enough to keep me going.”

Inia is one of four Te Puia team members who will join 1600 other runners and walkers in the Tarawera Trail Marathon and 50km, or the associated Tikitapu Trail run 16km or 23km events.

Starting under Te Whakarewarewa Valley's Pohutu Geyser and finishing at Lake Tarawera's Hot Water Beach, the Tarawera Trail Marathon retraces the reverse journey of the Tuhourangi people who fled to the valley after the devastating 1886 Mount Tarawera eruption that destroyed the famed Pink and White Terraces.

“Achieving the 16km will give me a clean sweep of all the distances this event offers and is the big lead up to running the Tarawera Ultramarathon 102km in February,” says Piripi.

“Ten years ago, I wouldn't have believed I'd be running, let alone achieving the distances I have been, but the trail running community gets you going and keeps you motivated.”

Also taking part in the Tikitapu Trail Run are Kiri Coromandel and Brooke Walker, while Liza Brickhill will tackle the 50km.

The three are relatively new to the running scene and will be participating in the event for the first time.

Brooke and Kiri say they will be sticking together throughout the race and have even bought coordinated running gear to keep them motivated.

 “I'm genuinely excited to get out onto the trails. It's going to be awesome,” says Brooke.

“If you had asked me a few years ago what I thought about running, I would have said there is so much more that you can do with your life than run. Now, look at me I'm jumping on the bandwagon.

“There is also so much hype at Te Puia with the organisation sponsoring us to enter the race - Te Puia is huge on health and wellbeing and it's really felt around the place.”

The gun will go off at the start line just after 8am, but before heading off on their adventure, Piripi will be welcoming visitors to Te Puia and Brooke and Kiri will have an early start, preparing and then serving coffee and food in the lead up to the event.

“The atmosphere is amazing and I love seeing everyone right at the beginning before they even make their way to the start line,” says Piripi.

“There are so many awesome people out on the trails and it's how I have met some of my greatest friends. When you're out there and you find someone that's your speed, grab them and go on the adventure together, you'll never know where you'll end up.”



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The moon peeping through the clouds at Pillans Point. Photo: Mike Berry.

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