Trail Runner’s Paradise
The Coastal Track is a trail runner’s idea of paradise. It is well formed, so you can move along reasonably swiftly, but is also undulating and varied enough to make it interesting. With water taxis available to take you to any of the 6 coastal access points in the Park you can run pretty much any section of the track you want, and then either run back to Marahau, or get picked up by a water taxi for your return.
The only major risk to your wellbeing is scuffing your feet and tripping. The track is primarily coarse granite sand, and that stuff will remove a lot of skin from your knees and hands if you faceplant.
As Yet Unbroken Records
The 13 km section of track from Anchorage to Marahau is one of my favourite runs. I tried, unsuccessfully, for about 10 years to break my uncle’s record for that run but eventually had to concede defeat. I always catch the water taxi from Marahau to Anchorage and then run back to Marahau. The run starts with an awful climb from the Anchorage beach up to the ridge line for about the first 1 km. Then things get easier as you run along the ridge from the turnoff to Watering Cove, but the view across to the islands in the Astrolabe can be deceiving. You run along for what seems like an age, and because of the angle, it looks like you’ve run past the line of the islands. You run a lot further, and again look over at the islands to your left only to discover that you’re still level with Adele Island. In fact, it’s not until you reach Coquille, 3 km from Marahau, that you really are past the islands. Despite this type of psychological warfare, which I seem to rage with myself, I love this run.
Bark Bay to Marahau
The run from Bark Bay back to Marahau, which is about 24km, has it all. A gentle incline past Medlands Bay to begin with, a flat section and then across the epic Falls River Swingbridge. Next is an unrelenting climb up from Swingbridge to the ridge line. I always find this a test of my fitness, to see if I can run this series of switchbacks without having to walk. Then after an extended flat section you descend into Torrent Bay and begin the picture perfect run around the tidal estuary. This section has a couple of more rugged sections that require you to slow down, and then you climb up to another ridge line to the turnoff to Anchorage. It’s all pretty easy from there so you pick up the pace and finish with a flourish.
The Abel Tasman Coastal Classic
In mid October every year Nelson Events hold the Coastal Classic, a race from Awaroa in the north of the Park, back to Marahau at the southern entrance. This race is on the bucket list for just about every trail runner in New Zealand. You take a water taxi to Awaroa early in the morning, go through a check of your compulsory gear and then set off with 300 other runners towards the south on a run of about 34 to 36 km. This has to be one of the most epic trail runs anywhere in the world.
The race sells out every year so you need to be quick to get your entry in. Click here to find out more https://www.nelsonevents.co.nz/content/abel-tasman-coastal-classic-0