Raglan Karioi Trail: Keeping it real

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Francois Mazet

Francois Mazet

When it comes to setting a challenge, Raglan based Francois Mazet is something of a natural. The keen adventurer is the mind behind the Raglan Karioi Trail, which has fast become an iconic event for those who love something out of the ordinary.

Set on Mt Karioi, the track is a bona fide mountain run, through everything from thick bush and mud to rocks and hauling yourself up steep sides, most likely on hands and knees.

A keen skier and trail runner, Francois has combined his passion for the Kiwi outdoors with his knowledge in sports events and his Masters in sports management, to come up with a truly unique Kiwi event.

This year’s Raglan Karioi Trail, on Saturday December 12, includes the challenging 24km single run (up to the summit of Karioi not once, but twice), a 24km team relay event, a 10km single and a 2km kids’ event. Two charities are supported, with both the local marae and Tusk and Horn Charitable Trust each receiving $1 per runner.

Fitness Journal caught up with the mind behind the madness:

karioiposterHow did the idea for the event originally come about?
Since I’ve been living in Raglan, I’ve been running up and around the Karioi. I really love running on the ridge of it. So I wanted to share this feeling. I run trail events a few times a year and realised that Karioi was a perfect spot for this kind of event. The fact it’s my home spot is an added bonus. It’s my way of sharing my passion and I love that this is a small local event, with local sponsors and support, and that unique Raglan community vibe.

What makes this event so unique?
I chose to make it a real “mountain run” instead of just a trail run. That means it’s steeper than most of the other events around. You have to run to the summit twice if you do the 24km event, so this is tough. Some parts are too steep even to run but this is what I like: mountain running. I would describe it as a very technical run, with some parts where you will need to walk because of the challenging terrain.

You never get bored because the track is always different. You will cross farmland, single forest/bush track, ladder, chain, rocks, mud, gravel roads…

This year I have also created a 10km challenge to encourage more participants of all ages to experience the Raglan Karioi Trail atmosphere.

What is the biggest challenge of competing in it?
Be ready to slip! The 24 km is a hard challenge but with a good training it’s enjoyable. You need to be ready to run on different terrain. And the shorter 10km version is designed for everyone wanting to test the challenge and perhaps take on the full event next year.

Share your training tips for the event:
It is most important to learn to let it slip and go with it when it happens and then run again once you’re on firm ground. .You need to train up and down hills and improve the rapidity of your feet to ensure better management on difficult terrain.

What is your sporting background?
I come from a family of skiers. My parents are both lifelong ski instructors, so I spent my childhood in the snow during winter and on the beach during summer. I started racing when I was five and picked up competitive snowboarding when I was 11.

Even though I raced and competed from a young age, my parents never put any pressure on me and it was all about having fun and enjoying the experiences.

I’ve now gone full circle and coach my son and his friends on the snowboard and I love it! I still race some of the competitions at Mt Ruapehu when I have time.

Running has always been part of my life – in fact it is when I can think the best. I also play rugby for Raglan and surf whenever I can.

What are your plans for the future of this event?
I want the Raglan Karioi Trail to be recognised as a iconic mountain running event in New Zealand, but I really want to keep it as a Raglan community event, as this is part of what makes it so special. The social side is unique also, with our Good George barbecue and many Waikato sponsors.

Is there an event you would love to participate in as a future goal and why?
The ultra trail Mont Blanc, but I need to ask my knees first!

For more information or to enter, visit raglankarioitrail.com

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