It's not many races that require a boat trip to the start, but the Able Tasman Costal Trail Classic in New Zealand is one of them (http://www.nelsonevents.co.nz/content/abel-tasman-coastal-classic-0). Soon after sunrise hundreds of competitors queue on the beach in Kaiteriteri to be taken by sea to the start of the race in Awaroa. During the forty minute journey we were treated to spectacular scenery, a running commentary full of traditional New Zealand humour, and even a sight of a Blue penguin swimming next to the boat. On arriving (see picture) we follow a boardwalk to a grass-strip airport where the race starts with once around the airport loop before being plunged straight into the first of many hills. If the first ascent was punishing the first descent was a clear warning of what was to come; steep switchbacks full of rocks and tree-roots required full attention, sadly detracting from the amazing views. Over the 33km root I saw several competitors take falls or stumble on the difficult terrain, but for once it wasn't me kissing the dirt floor. The weather was perfect; bright but cool and the the tree canopy protected us from the direct sunlight. There were occasional moments of beauty as the trees opened up to show us a hint of the famous aqua-marine sea with spectacular sandy beaches - but immediately focus had to return to the path and to feet. I heard people talking on the boat about this being one of the best trail runs in the world, and I'm inclined to agree.
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