The Hillary – A Beginners Guide

By December 12, 2015

The Hillary Skyraces are a spectacular 34km and 80km event held through the Waitakere Ranges and along Auckland’s west coast. The course follows the Official Hillary Trail which is named after legend explorer Sir Edmond Hillary. The race runs from the Arataki Visitors Centre West of Titirangi all the way to Muriwai ensuring competitors experience some of the most pristine trails New Zealand has to offer. For this reason the Hillary makes a perfect event for first time Skyrunners!

20150314-Hillary15_000493Skyrunning ANZ caught up with Connie Richards (co-founder of Trail Chix) who ran the 34km Hillary Skyrace in 2014. This was Connie’s first foray into Skyrunning and she shares her thoughts and some helpful hints for first time Skyrunners below.

Skyrunning ANZ: Hi Connie, thanks again for taking the time of share the awesome experience you had last year with us. To start with what was your biggest concern/fear going into the race and how did you overcome it.

Connie: Thanks guys it’s my pleasure. I think the idea that Skyrunning is all about vert (vertical gain) and I felt that you can never have done enough training for that scared me the most. I was worried that kind of strength in your legs would take years to build up… So being a first timer I knew the hills would hurt. However I made sure I didn’t over cook myself on both the ascents and descents I made sure I stayed within my abilities as the goal was more to finish.

Skyrunning ANZ: What was the atmosphere like at the Hillary ultra?

Connie: It was a later start in the morning (the 34km) so you had time to get to the start and watch some of the lead runners in the 80km come through. There was definitely lots of nervous chatter but a nice relaxed feel as we wandered to the beach start. Running along the west coast black sand beach and hilltops was breathtaking so made sure I took in the scenery when I could.
Skyrunning ANZ: How did you find the course?

Connie: The course covers a lot of different types of terrain there were definitely some sections that were a little technical with tree roots and rutted narrow sections but most of the course was 4wd tracks, steps or enjoyable single trail. It certainly provided plenty of variety and added to the enjoyment.

20150314-Hillary15_000197Skyrunning ANZ: What would be the main thing new Skyrunners should train for when looking to do the Hilary?

Connie: I’m not sure there is one main thing alone but one of the more important things would be hills both climbing as well as also descending (something many forget to do).

Skyrunning ANZ: What shoes and pack did you wear?

Connie: Shoes: La Sportiva Helios 

Pack: Salomon S-lab advanced skin 

Thinking about competing in the Hillary Sky Ultra or Skyrace? Check out more details and how to enter at

Remember it is ALWAYS more fun with “Less Cloud, More Sky”.

Skyrunning ANZ