Law academic Bill Hodge is a well-known voice on legal issues, but what is not so well known is a tally he is quietly clocking up on the road.
The affable associate professor at the University of Auckland law school has an out-of-school hobby of running marathons, and he’s knocked off well over 100.
He has run the Rotorua Marathon, considered one of New Zealand’s toughest marathon courses, more than 20 times.
Now the hobby is part of his holiday planning and he looks out for interesting destinations to travel and run the 42km, or 26.2-mile, event, marking them all off on a map in his office.
Prof Hodge chalked up a cool 100th marathon in New York ten years ago and says it is one of the greatest events of his life.
He’s just back from running the Australian Outback Marathon through Uluru (Ayers Rock) on July 27, where he says the sand dunes in the desert were hard going.
“Happily it wasn’t too hot, but I did end up carrying a lot of red dust and red sand around in my socks and shoes for most of the marathon.”
A month earlier he ran the San Francisco Marathon over Golden Gate Bridge with a time of 4hrs:18mins, and earlier in the year ran one in South Dakota along the Deadwood-Mickelson Trail.
Prof Hodge is not hanging up his trainers yet. There are many more marathons he wants to run, he says. Quietly, he’s aiming for 200.
London is on the list and he may look to enter New York again, after doing a few more events for the first time.
His best marathon time was 2hrs:55mins but says “that was a long time ago”.
Are marathons addictive?
“Training provides a balance in my life, and keeps me healthy and releases stress. The training is probably more important than the marathon itself.
“The reward of the marathon is just the achievement,” Prof Hodge says.
Training-wise, he does one long run a week but now spends more time doing non-impact training on the bike or cross-training at the gym or aqua-jogging in the pool.
If he spent less time on the non-impact training and upped the mileage on the road he thinks he would see his time improve.
But these days, he says it’s a trade-off between a better time and injury. He’s happy his knees, hips and ankles are holding up.
Do they get easier?
“I wouldn’t say easier. But I know what’s ahead now.
“Marathon runners hit the wall at about 30kms. Much of it is mental and in your head, so I don’t get surprised and run through any mental barrier.
“Physically though, it’s not easy to run 42km, for anyone.”
“I don’t run the whole marathon, you just run it kilometre by kilometre. Rather than think of the whole thing, think of the parts that you have to get through."
And it’s better to be passing people than have people pass you, he says.
“I think the main thing is to say, this is going to be good when I finish.”
About Prof Hodge
Bill Hodge is the author of Criminal Procedure in New Zealand and joint author of Torts in New Zealand and Brooker's Employment Contracts.
He contributes an annual chapter on employment law to the NZ Law Review, and was one of nine members of the former Employment Relations Tribunal discarded in 2001 by former Labour minister Margaret Wilson in favour of less experienced replacements.
He is a founding member of the Institute of Employment Arbitrators and Mediators, and is on the panel list (Employment Law) of the Arbitrators and Mediators Institute of New Zealand.