Roland Idaczyk has been living in Wellington, New Zealand for the past eleven years. He was born in Köln (Cologne), Germany, in 1954 and lived there for 35 years. He is a software developer working for an international IT organization.
His running career is divided into several stages; during his years at school until his early twenties, then again for a couple of years around the age of thirty, and now in an organized fashion for the last eight years.
Eight years ago he joined the Wellington Marathon Clinic, where he has served as a pack-leader for several years and is now training to become a running coach. There are two hundreds members in his club, covering recreational walkers through to competitive long distance runners.
When Roland is preparing for a marathon he runs six days a week, otherwise his weekly workout consists of three times, or even less. His workout distance ranges between 10 and around 35 kilometers, depending on the purpose of the training unit.
Roland says that he enjoys running with a group and usually goes out on his long Sunday runs with other club members, sometimes also during the week. If he is doing very individual training or a long run during the week, then he tends to run on his own. He do not mind running on his own, because this gives him time to think and to observe the world around him. Roland runs different courses as much as possible because he likes the variety of changing the workout.
When Roland runs in the morning, he does not eat anything before the run unless the distance is in excess of 20 kilometers. Then he prefers something light like a Muesli bar or two, or a slice of bread with plum jam. In any case he drinks a lot of water, before he go out for a run.
When asked if runners in his country run in all types of weather conditions, and if there are any weather conditions that affect running, Roland said, "No matter what the weather is like, there will always be some mad runner out there. But what choice do we have? Being on an island between the Tasman Sea and the South Pacific Ocean we have to cope with some extreme weather conditions. And if you have something you are training for, then you simply don't care. The climate is generally moderate with day temperatures between 10 and 30 degrees Celsius. When it rains, there can be quite hefty, but over the last few years Wellington has been one of the sunniest places in New Zealand. The Cook Straight between the North and South Islands occasionally generates some very strong winds though. These are the days when we prefer to run in more sheltered areas between the hills around Wellington".
Roland says that he takes the weather as it comes, but enjoys to run on a sunny day, when they have spectacular views around the coast line. On the other hand, at times he has been grateful for the refreshment provided by a light drizzle.
The sun down-under is very intense, so that it is a good idea to wear a cap. On cold days Roland wears a long-sleeved polyprop shirt and sometimes even cotton gloves. Usually his typical workout outfit is a running singlet or T-shirt, shorts, socks and, of course, shoes, of which he owns three pairs which he interchanges, and one pair for off-road running.
When asked about the use of running accessories Roland said, "On very long runs I sometimes wear a water bottle, but most often I use publicly accessible water taps on the way. When running after dark, security gear such as a reflective belt is a must. At special occasions I am known to carry a compact camera to record an event from the inside".
Roland keeps up on the running latest by reading local and international running magazines in the public library and also visits the resources on the Internet.
Regarding running in New Zealand, Roland noted that, "Running in New Zealand is a very popular and long established activity. Still, some people view runners as odd, while they themselves prefer watching rugby or cricket on television. Participants represent all groups of society, men and women, old and young. There are people who run with dogs, but this is uncommon in a club environment".
Roland's advice to visiting runners is to watch out for the traffic. He said, "The general standard of driving is not high and somehow drivers try to bend the rules in their own favor, no matter at what cost. Pedestrians, bicyclists and runners are usually at the receiving end. To visitors I would also recommend, especially to women, not to run alone after dark".
In Wellington and the immediate neighborhood there are two marathons, four half marathons, one 10km, and more than ten 5km in any given year. Roland notes that "Looking at New Zealand at a whole, there are many more marathons and also a number of mountain and ultra-distance runs up to 100km. Something for every taste! Around Wellington we have several fun run events, some of them off-road, for example the Pencarrow Lighthouse Run (16km), the Rimutaka Railway Run (15km), the Clarrie Gibbons Mini-Marathon (24km), the Butterfly Creek Night Run (9.75km). There is also a 24-hour relay charity run, which unfortunately is not advertised well enough".
Half marathons cost around U.S. $ 8-15 and marathons cost around U.S. $ 15-60. A shorter road race costs around U.S. $ 2. At half marathons and marathons the organizers hand out race packs, which usually contain some food or drink items donated by a sponsor and advertising material. T-shirts are available at many events, but at an additional charge of U.S. $ 6-14. Most events have merit prizes for the top ranked over-all and in age classes. Many events conduct a spot prize draw, where every finisher has a chance to win a prize. Finisher's certificates are the standard awards. Some events also have finisher's T-shirts (included in the entry fee) and/or finisher's medals. Medals are often handed out only at anniversary events (5th, 10th etcetera). At major events results lists are usually sent out to all participants.
During a race the standard drink offered is plain water, but some events also have sports drinks, cola and other drinks at the drink stations. At the finish many events have hot drinks as well.
Roland has run in over a dozen half marathons, and 5 marathon events: Rotorua (New Zealand, 1994), Auckland (New Zealand, 1994), Wellington (New Zealand, 1995), Christchurch (New Zealand, 1999), Köln (Germany, 2000). Roland's fastest times are: marathon 3:09 (Auckland, 1994) and half marathon 1:27:40 (Napier, New Zealand, 1994).
When asked in his whole life where and when was his favorite run, Roland said, "It is difficult to name a favorite run. There were so many special and unique runs, ranging from a minus-4-degrees-Celsius 10km race in Germany to the 38km Abel Tasman Coastal Classic through a beautiful New Zealand national park. A very special non-event was the 1999 Rotorua Marathon, which was cancelled due to severe flooding only 10 minutes before the start! But, if I really have to name one, then it may as well be the 2000 Köln Marathon, where I had the privilege to run in the city where I was born during my first visit after more than ten years away. Some 400,000 supporters lined the streets. Due to lack of preparation it was my slowest marathon, but a wonderful experience. After finishing I climbed the more than 500 steps up the spire of the famous cathedral".
Run The Planet would like to thank Roland Idaczyk from New Zealand for taking part in the Planeteer Spotlight.