Routeburn- Training Run

It’s always a pleasure to run the Routeburn, and Tuesday was no exception. Simply stunning, and made even better with perfect conditions. I highly recommend getting over this trail, it’s 30km of goodness (this was my 3rd time over this summer!).

IMG_2896Looking into the Hollyford Valley

IMG_2899Token tourist shot

 

Coast to Coast 2016 – A different Approach

Coast to Coast: A different approach

After racing the Coast to Coast Longest day for the past 3 summers I decided this was the year to step away… that sounds ominous, but… I didn’t step very far. Instead I raced for a 3 person team in the Corporate Division, we were representing Duncan NZ Venison and I was the team paddler. This was a golden opportunity for me, as the goal for the summer was to improve my paddling, while also taking a slightly more relaxed approach to training. This was the perfect mix. Racing for a team took away the stress and pressure that often comes with the package of racing the Longest Day. And, since I was going to be at the event anyway, I thought I may as well enter the mountain run in the new stand alone event. That would give me something to do on the Friday and the Saturday, as well as provide valuable training for a serious nudge at the Longest Day in 2017.

Day 1: Mountain run.

For those who have never been over Goat Pass, all I can say is that the course is extremely technical. For the majority of the run you are running over river rocks and crossing through icy water repeatedly. I love this terrain and was stoked to be back at Aickens Corner, ready to roll, on the start line. Once the gun went off I was also stoked to have no fatigue in the legs from the usual pre run road cycle! Accordingly the run went strongly. I remembered the course quite well considering that I hadn’t been over it since the race the year before. Things went smoothly until the last river flats, 12765722_10153139810077134_1006245842_o.jpgwhere the lack of training became apparent. Running over rocky terrain is very specific, and as per my summer plan of taking it “easy”, I hadn’t done the work. Cramp was the consequence. I  was really hoping to run under 3 hours, but as I stopped to stretch on the flood bank in the last 3km of the run I quickly calculated that this was out of reach… bugger! I got control of the cramp and ran the last stretch as hard as I could without locking the legs up again. Crossing the line in a time of 3.06 was satisfying. It was great to see what I could do over the run and a good bench mark to work from. My time was also good enough to secure me the win in the Mountain Run Event. A great first day! Now the focus switched to recovering for the paddle in the morning.

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Day 2: Paddle

The challenge had been set. We were currently sitting 5th in the Corporate Division, 30 minutes or so behind 3rd place. That was the team goal for the day. 3rd place was within reach. Our rider performed well and I was on the water in no time. The paddle went smoothly. I took good lines and felt confident in my boat on it’s maiden trip down the Waimak. However, again, the “chilled” summer had an impact. The longest paddle I had done in training was 2hrs and it was at exactly that mark where the wheels fell off. Oh well. By the time I made the Red Bridge I was well and truly done! Not good! Holding it together I managed to pull onto the beach at Gorge Bridge in a time of 4.39, showing that I still have plenty of work to  do in the boat before next summer… But always an epic and beautiful paddle. The team cyclist smashed out the last ride, as I waited at the kayak get out for the Longest Day Competitors to come through. I must say, it was a strange feeling watching the smashed bodies exiting the boat and plodding up to the bikes. Part of me was glad that I wasn’t that ruined… I had had a fun weekend, buuuut a huge part of me was already planning for C2C 2017. It’s the race to prove yourself in and I’ll be giving it my all again next summer. Duncan NZ clawed back the 30 min deficit to take 3rd place in the Corporate section. A successful weekend and a refreshing Coast to Coast experience.

A big thank you to Duncan NZ Venison, Around the Basin, Torpedo7 and O2B Healthy Ltd.

Wulong Mountain Quest, China 2013

The last thing I thought I would be doing this year was racing in China, but due to a lucky set of circumstances and a rushed few weeks of planning I was on my way to join team Oso Negro. As a rookie team we were heading to China with only a vague idea of what we were in for. Adding to the excitement was the fact that most of the team had never met before!

Travelling from all over the globe Oso Negro was finally united in Wulong. After quick introductions it was soon apparent that we had a great mix of personalities and strong potential as a team, however racing would be the true test.

The first day of Wulong consisted of an opening ceremony, followed by a short prologue (expected to take just under an hour for the top teams). Excitement levels were high, as the hype of the event was outrageous! The opening ceremony was a big event with speeches and scores of people involved. Once the formalities were complete it was time to get into the racing. The prologue started with a short run, followed by a chair carry, a biathlon, and then mountain bike with a final run to the finish. Our team raced well and were over the line in 7th place. After such a short and intense start (we finished in less than 45min) we were rearing to get into the racing proper, to see how we would really stack up against the other teams.

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Day 2 started in Wulong town. We had a short run down to a river where the kayaks were waiting. Once in the boats it was a steady paddle down river, with sets of fun rapids along the way. Steering was a bit of a mission in the rudderless boats and we lost some time on the front teams. Out of the boats we were ready to run hard. A tough climb took us into the next transition, where we were given 2 bikes for the team. This was the biathlon leg of the day. We did really well on this section, sharing the bikes and maintaining a high level of intensity. After the biathlon was a 15min compulsory rest. We smashed back some food and prepared ourselves for the final bike and abseil which would take us to the finish line. The mountain bike was fast flowing and took us through some nice country side scenery. Near the end of the ride things got a bit more technical and the going slowed. Just when we were worried the leg would never end, we popped out into the next transition area. We quickly donned our harnesses and charged up a short hill to the abseil. This was a very memorable moment of the race, as it was definitely the highest abseil I have ever done. We dropped down into a fantastic karst valley. The abseil was a bit of a learning experience for me, as I’m used to these sections of races being “stop clock” for safety reasons, however in Wulong it was race on! We learnt this the hard way by losing a spot while on the ropes. No drama though as we had raced very well and avoided the bike mechanical issues that had slowed some of the other teams. We finished 5th for the day, less than a minute behind 4th.

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Day 3 began with a long paddle section on a lake. The scenery was great, but again Luke and I found ourselves having a bit of trouble with steering. This was frustrating, as we felt our speed was not reflective of our paddle fitness. Ailsa and Sam seemed to have it sussed and were powering along. By the end of the paddle I was very keen to get out of the bloody boat and into the run. We charged up hill and quite quickly passed a team ahead. Getting onto an exposed traverse track we settled into a steady pace determined to make up the time we had lost on the paddle. Dropping down deep into a valley was followed by another meaty climb into the transition, also doubling as the 15min rest area for the day. Refueling as best we could the 15min flew by and we were soon into the ensuing mountain bike leg. This was a pretty solid stage with plenty of climbing. The team worked hard and Sam towed like a truck! We were moving well. The next stage was an abseil off a bridge into the water followed by a short swim and then raft to the finish. The raft leg was painfully slow, but with a bit of perseverance and position changing (to fight the cramp) we crossed the line in 7th place. Another solid day!

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Day 4, the final day! The race started high in the hills with an orienteering section. Fog made navigation slightly more challenging, but no real dramas slowed the team and we were soon onto the next stage, a short downhill run. We made good time through this section, passing a team in front. Next up was an out and back paddle that had to be completed 2 times. Luke and I were determined to redeem our paddle from the previous day and thankfully we got through this one with far more style. It was great to be able to see all of the top teams charging back towards us, due to the out and back nature of the stage. Next up was the short rest, followed by a mountain bike. Again Sam “the tow truck Manson” showed his strength, appreciated immensely by the team. This mountain bike was pretty muddy in sections, but the majority of it was on fun fast flowing sealed tracks. A mega hill before transition made sure the mountain bike legs were truly snapped off. By transition we could sense the finish was close, just a short caving section to go. We pushed hard in the run along the river leading to the entrance of the cave. At the cave entrance we were delighted to see a bloated dead pig wrapped around a tree in the river. Yummy! The caving was good fun, with lots of sections where we had to swim and other parts where we had to climb down ropes. Reaching daylight we charged down the last section of river and into the finishing chute. Crossing the line as a team was a great feeling. From barely knowing each other at the start of the race we had formed a strong bond and had a huge amount of fun racing together. We placed 6th on the last day and secured that position in the overall rankings. We were also the first rookie team.

 

A big thank you to my team mates, Sam Manson, Ailsa Rollingson and Luke Osborne.

 

Thanks also to R&R Sport for the continued support.

 

Until next time China…

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