SHARE
Head of the field . . . St Joseph's School teacher Sara Jones-Hogan runs with her pupils ahead of the Alps 2 Ocean Ultra. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

St Joseph’s School teacher Sara Jones-Hogan says she could not have got this close to the Alps 2 Ocean Ultra start line without a lot of support.

Mrs Jones-Hogan (42) is among the local contingent in the 130-strong field for New Zealand’s first staged ultra race, which starts this weekend.

She has spent many months training for the gruelling event.

Twice a week, she has been meeting a group of local runners also training for the event. Starting at 3.30am, the group has been running 54km of the Alps 2 Ocean trail.

Sometimes, it could be a hassle to train because of work and family commitments, she said.

“When I can, I run.”

Originally from Auckland, Mrs Jones-Hogan and her family moved to Oamaru a year ago.

Being a newcomer meant training for the race helped her form a closer connection with the community.

“When we’re racing, we’re a family,” she said.

For Mrs Jones-Hogan, the ultra was not just about crossing the finish line – it was going on a personal journey.

“It’s going to be about me. It’s going to be about my self-discovery,” she said.

Mrs Jones-Hogan was grateful to have the backing of a lot of people.

“Everybody has been so supportive and it’s just been great.”

Her husband supported her training effort for the ultra but he looked forward to it being over, she joked.

Mrs Jones-Hogan believed organiser Mike Sandri had put in the hard yards to make the inaugural event “amazing” for all runners.

“Michael is just so lovely. He’s so supportive.”

Mrs Jones-Hogan has previously competed in trail races, but his will be her first crack at an ultra.

Although she was determined to cross the finish line, she would not be rushing to reach it, she said.

She acknowledged there would be times throughout the race where her limits would be tested.

However, words of encouragement from the community and her family would help her keep moving forward.

She has decided she will not run in the 2019 Alps 2 Ocean Ultra, but looks forward to supporting competitors in that event.