Firstly, THANKS SO MUCH Barefootinc for their support. Having spent some time with these guys at Tarawera Ultra last year and again in 2012 it became apparent just how committed to their athletes they are and I'm privileged to have their help with my upcoming racing. Without starting an age old argument can I just say from a personal perspective I LOVE MY 5s! Also really looking forward to ripping up some trail in my new Inov8s. More on that later.
I've had a good couple months training and despite the usual 'old-man niggles' I'm feeling ok in training and getting plenty of aerobic base in. Initially I had only planned to get through the club cross-country season, arrive in good shape for road season, then decide whether I'd run National Road Relays, but with the support of BFI (and my very loving, considerate and tolerant wife) I have been able to look a little closer at the forthcoming trail races.
First up, The Nugget (Waihi)
I competed (barely completed) the event last year, slipping to 3rd place when my stomach mutinied and breakfast leaped from my mouth 150m from the finish-line. In slightly better shape this year I thought I best return and put a demon to rest.
Thanks to Total Sports' ever patient Susan Blundell who accepted my very late entry then found a spare marshal to drive me the start line after I missed the bus (doh!).
I planned to get back to Cambridge as soon as I was done at the Nugget so I could race a local inter-club cross country race we were hosting in town so the primary goal was to improve on last years Nugget time with the least possible effort so I still had some legs left to race 6km that afternoon. I don't recall ever trying to race twice in the same day so this was going to be interesting (challenging/rewarding/fun/painful/stupid...).
|Final prayer as I checked the front row of the grid.|
|O'kawa Bay (looking south)|
Around 100 men and women kicked off the 21km trail run starting at the north end of Waihi Beach. Ignoring the race briefing as is my custom I hopped around trying to shake some glue out of my ancient frame. Then we were off!
Five minutes in it was apparent the only obvious challenge would come from young Gene Beveridge, a talented orienteer and multisporter. We rolled on around to Orokawa Bay together just chewing the fat as I settled into a comfortable pace.
I was aware of Gene's heavy breathing and could tell he was suffering some-what as we entered the climbs around each headland. He's run some handy times on long courses such as 'The Great Cranleigh Kauri run' (31km) so it was safe to assume he'd have the metal to keep running at a solid pace and not fade. There I was hoping for an easy win. Damnit, I was going to have to run the whole 21. Boo.
We stayed pretty close around headlands to Homunga Bay. Some stunning scenery to chuck your shoes at, seriously worth a visit regardless of your fitness level.
|Some of the crinkly bits on the way to Homunga|
|Homunga Bay, up up and away!|
|Nearing the tops above Homunga Bay|
Into Homunga Bay and a final look at the mighty Pacific Ocean before turning inland only a handful of seconds separating myself and Gene who continued to linger. The climb up to the 10km mark is certainly noteworthy and I suffered badly here in 2011. Much more comfortable this time round I cruised away and by the summit proper I had a healthy lead with no real increase in intensity.
The remaining 10km to the finish passed without incident save only a couple minutes lost on a farm track when the genius course marshals decided to tape off the 21km run course in favor of making the mountain bike course easier to follow. The usual frustration ensued with a few 'out-and-backs' trying to establish where they intended us to go. One of the joys of leading a race and not paying attention to the race briefing (douche!).
I crossed the finish comfortably in a time of 1:38. Around 1 minute faster than last years winner and mega-talented NZ-rep Angus Bell. Slightly different course this year but neither here nor there in terms of difficulty. Around 6 minutes faster than fat-Kerry-2011. Take that fatty! In yo' face!
Gene rolled in 4 minutes back. Much bigger and more important things await that talented young man. Will be one to watch.
On to the Afternoon's fun!
It was Cambridge's turn to host the 'Wilson Brown' inter-club Cross Country race against Hamilton City Hawks and Frankton Athletics. Annually this is effectively the start of the Cross Country season and it's a good time to get a sighter of the lads and ladies you'll be racing for the next few months of the Harrier season.
|"Cross Country" is seldom less taxing than this|
I was a bag of DOMS and suffering in the warm up jog to the race start. Unable to even do stride-outs, the mornings 21km had taken more than a little speed out of my legs. I was also being troubled by some sort of muscle strain or cramp in my chest. A nice combination for total body agony. This was going to be a painful 6km.
|The ducks don't mind the runners so much as the starting gun|
Fortunately I was once again relatively unopposed and other than an ever present Kent Hodgson I was able to survive the 3x 2km laps of the lake with only significant discomfort. One sharp climb was required on each lap of the lake making the course not without it's challenges. Trying to 'hook top gear' immediately after a steep ascent is always difficult and after the mornings abuse I was a box of neutrals trying to find race form at the top of the hill.
Maintaining around 3:30min/kms wasn't easy and it felt like an all-out race effort despite being my current tempo training pace.
Glad to have another win, the 1st for Cambridge at the Wilson Brown for some time (possibly ever?). Yes, I was lucky there were no really good runners there. The Hawks are deep with talent at the moment. Where were they? Slackers!
Alright, now what?
2 weeks until my next race, the T42, a 42km trail run near the Central Volcanic Plateau. I'm setting a lofty goal of a 3hr trail marathon which may be a little beyond me at the moment but if you don't try you'll never know. Fingers crossed I can shake this DOMS and get in a good weeks training.
Thanks again to Barefootinc, Mike Tennant (photos), and thanks for reading.