A MORPETH woman successfully completed her latest long-distance running challenge in Lord of the Rings country.
Tolkien fan Stevie Matthews wanted to combine a charity run with a general trip to New Zealand to see the sunning locations used for the films and last year she convinced organisers to give her a special guest spot in the Kepler Challenge.
What made it even better was that the Morpeth Town Council Office Manager was celebrating her 60th birthday at the same time.
She was able to complete the 60km event up very steep ascents and descents and along exposed, glacial alpine ridges, forests and valleys within the time limit of 12 hours – her finishing time was 10 hours and 42 minutes.
Describing her experiences during the run, Mrs Matthews said: “In the first few hours, I was to run and speak with many people from the home town of Te Anau to overseas visitors like myself.
“Perhaps the most touching were the Christchurch participants, still a long way from recovering from the devastating earthquakes but full of determination and hope for a new and better city.
“There were very steep ascents, notably the Luxmore Peak, and from Luxmore Saddle (even higher) to Hanging Valley Shelter the course was a narrow track on a jagged mountain edge. It was very exposed and I was grateful to have the company of ‘John’, a young chap who insisted on staying with me to ensure I was not blown off the side.
“For me the next part was the toughest I have ever experienced, a series of steep ladders zig-zagging down the mountain side which I found very difficult.
“Needless to say, this feeling was short lived and I was back in good spirits in time for the glacial valleys, gorges, forests and riverside clearings and finally along the shores of Lake Manapouri back to Te Anau.”
Funds raised through sponsorship will go to a veterinary hospital in Edinburgh and the Jitegemee Project to build a primary school complex in Tanzania.