Coast to Coast 2017

This year I took quite a serious approach to the Coast to Coast.

I sacrificed some other races in summer and instead put all my eggs into the Coast to Coast basket.

I felt ready.

I had recently signed New World Wakatipu on as my premier event sponsor and things seemed to be lining up nicely for a really good crack at the Longest Day. I was excited to be heading back to the iconic multisport race that got me into the sport.

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Standing on the West Coast start line at Kumara Beach felt good. I thought I was ready.

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3 2 1 GO!

The start run was furious. We ran from the beach at top speed and I thought that the pace would surely relent. It was unsustainable. The pace remained the same, and I realised that I would need to increase my effort if I was to make it into the front group on the ride to follow. Always a rude way to start a 243km race!

A quick transition onto the bike and we were away onto the 55km road cycle stage. There were 8 or 9 of us in this front group. Again the pace was steady here and I found myself struggling to find any real rhythm on the bike. I was probably working only 2 or 3 percent harder than I would have liked, but was concerned about this, knowing what lay ahead, so I just tried to relax and look after my nutrition. I ate and drank well.

Eventually we reached Aickens Corner and after a quick transition we were running. Already I felt that I wasn’t having a strong day. The first ride had felt harder than it should have and I could tell that the legs had been affected. I relaxed, happy to drop back a bit to try and find the legs and some rhythm. Again, I focused on what I could control, my nutrition, and now my pacing. I tried to reason that if I was consistent and built into the run I would soon start catching some people in front… but I just wasn’t running free and couldn’t find that strong race feeling that I was looking for.

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Soon I was joined by Alex Hunt. He was having troubles of his own and had ridden with the second bunch after dropping his chain. It turned out that there were quite a few strong athletes in the second bunch and that they had transitioned only a few minutes behind the front group.

I was happy to see Alex, reasoning that we would be able to push each other through the run. Alex is a great athlete and I figured if we were together then perhaps I wasn’t doing too bad…

Alex and I swapped the lead regularly. I had one fleeting period on the run where I found my legs and my energy and the flow and pure enjoyment that comes along with this. I thought “yuuus! I’m back”. I managed to get ahead of Alex for awhile, but unfortunately this feeling disappeared as quickly as it had come and my pace dropped once again. Frustrating to say the least!

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By the time we had crossed Goat Pass and made the river flats near Klondike Corner Alex and I were still together, but I was struggling a bit to stride out on this flat section and Alex pulled ahead into Klondike.

Coming into Klondike I was feeling a bit flat. I had high expectations on myself this year and felt I was under performing. I had run the 33km in 3.27… Last summer I had done the run event in 3.06 and the year before I had raced it in 3.15 as part of the longest day…

It was however great to see my support crew, especially my mum who was waving the famous FYPOS flag (see the image at the very bottom – warning not PC).

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Onto the 15km bike and my legs felt terrible! It was very interesting… the last time I did the longest day I had ran 15 min faster and felt great on the middle bike… ohhh dear.

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I felt like I was  in survival mode and was passed by another rider on this section.

Heading down to the kayak it was time to re-focus. I had a good chat with Steve Norton, my crew member and kayak coach. He said I was still in touch and a strong paddle could see me back into the top 5. I liked the sound of this, but at the same time didn’t feel like I “had it”. It was a strange feeling. The story of my day.

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Into the boat and off, I was on the water with Sam Goodall. We had a quick chat before he slowly pulled ahead. Dam, another position down. I focused on my race plan, building into the paddle slowly and refuelling. I found a good rhythm in the boat and was happy with my progress. I passed an athlete near the Red Bridge (about 2 hrs from the end of the paddle). It was here that I also ran out of liquid food and realised that the bars I had with me had become a saturated mush. I ate what little I could from the bars, but effectively was out of food for the rest of the paddle.

IMG_0998 2.JPGComing into the transition at Gorge Bridge is always uplifting. I had passed a couple of people on the paddle leg (although I only saw one) and had seen another not very far ahead. My crew did a great job of getting me out of the boat and up the hill to my bike.

This is where I made a mistake. I should have let my crew know straight away that my nutrition was gong poorly, that I had run out in the boat, but in the hype of the moment I didn’t. I thought I would be all good once I was on my bike and could refuel then.

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My legs again felt really heavy on the bike. No power. I sucked on the Coke in my front bottle, and that went down well. I drained it in the first 30 mins of the ride… Should have brought more… I had too much solid food and no gels. Big mistake. I started to really feel the bonk from the nutritional deprivation in the boat. I couldn’t get much solid food down, as hard as I tried. This was the worst leg of my race. Out of the boat I was sitting in 8th, with athletes not far up the road, within range… instead I was passed by 4 people on this ride, as I struggled to keep moving. It was devastating to be passed so close to the end of such a big day. I had nothing in the tank and couldn’t respond or challenge anyone who passed me. I was doing what I could and that was all I had on the day.

Crossing the line was a relief. It was over. I was gutted and destroyed. I had got it wrong again. I felt like I had let myself, my sponsors and support team down. Sport can be brutal. The consolation for me was that although I didn’t have the day I wanted, I had still left it all out there. I was spent and nutritionally deprived.

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What a day…

I learnt a lot from my race and already think that I will be back next summer, slightly wiser and hungry for redemption. I’ll get it right one of these days… and hey, it was still an awesome day out and a great accomplishment to race from one side of the country to the other!

A massive thank you to my generous sponsors and support crew! This race is a huge undertaking and it would not be possible without your backing.

Thanks team!

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The Crew: Pete, Dad, Steve, Claudia and Mum (taking photo)

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Mum wielding the famous FYPOS Flag: inspiration at its finest

Race Report – Peak to Peak 2016

Leg 1: Run start then ski – This is always madness and out of control… but very fun… I went well and was on the skis in the top 5-10 people. It’s a quick traverse on the skis before some mint off piste skiing down to the mountain bike.Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 9.18.42 pm.pngLeg 2: Down hill bike – this stage was epic fun this year, with the recent sealing of most of the Remarkables access road making for swift progress. Loose grit on some of the corners caused some carnage, but the going was smooth for me. Hitting the flat at the bottom of the hill I found myself in 1st/2nd equal with a young fella from a school team – cheers to him for taking more than his share of the wind from there to the lake!13996276_1002904216493648_5807296911359090045_oLeg 3: Paddle – Conditions were great on the lake and I quickly settled into my work. Being first on the lake I just kept an eye on my speed and tried to keep the effort honest. It was great to come into the kayak/run TA in first place overall – cheers to Steve Norton from Around The Basin for the kayak coaching.13937921_1002904053160331_6119164772790668979_o13909251_1002904466493623_5618396769976263447_o

Leg 4: Run – After a strong paddle I came out of the boat feeling a bit worked… I settled into my pace and tried to relax and find my running rhythm. I was quickly passed by 2 or 3  fresh team runners, but watching their progress I felt I was actually moving ok, just not with the normal strength and spring in my stride. I was a bit worried that I had gone out too quick and would be bleeding time to those chasing. (Sorry, no photo from this year…)

Leg 5: Up hill bike – this leg is always a killer… this year was no exception. I was feeling the effects of the aggressive pace that I had attacked the race with earlier and by this stage I felt I was just holding on (pain face). I rode a bit slower than last year, but knew that I had raced the first half well and the crew let me know there was a good gap back to the next individual (Flavio). I kept the hurt on through to the end, wanting to improve on my time from last year. Get there then rest.13920300_1002904513160285_2896059136589861081_oFinish – Crossing the line this year came as a bit of a relief! I really wanted the win and I was stoked to have nailed it. Not the perfect race, with a bit more pain than expected, but four minutes quicker than last year – yuss!13939561_1002687689848634_4015333795829375092_n

A massive THANK YOU to my sponsors and to the crew of friends who came out to support me. Hugely appreciated.

From here I am looking froward to the next batch of China races. Its a pretty quick turn around – about 2 and a half weeks. I will be racing four events spread through September, including the unofficial Stage Adventure Racing World Multisport Champioship – Wulong Mountain Quest. Check back here or follow my Facebook page for all the updates.

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A sneak peak – tips for success in the Peak to Peak Multisport Race

Last year I raced the Peak to Peak Multisport Race. Held in Queenstown New Zealand, this race traverses the Wakatipu Basin from the upper reaches of the Remarkable’s ski field to the Coronet Peak ski area, hence the name; Peak to Peak.

This race is a real favourite of mine. Firstly because it is held in mid winter, a time when training can be hard and motivation levels can drop. The Peak to Peak is a great event to keep you going through those winter months. Secondly, the Peak to Peak is awesome in the way that it includes so many different disciplines in such a short race. Ski, mtb, kayak, run and road cycle. It’s a true  multi-sport outing!

The race can be completed as part of a team or as an individual. I cut my teeth on this race a few year back by doing the kayak and run leg for a team during my time studying at Otago University. More recently I have raced to 3rd (2014) and then 1st (2015) as an individual competitor.

I am going to run through the legs of the race one by one and provide you with some insight and tips to help you race faster.

Leg 1: Ski

This leg starts with a short downhill run to your skis, before traversing along to the Homeward Bound ski run and then descending to the access road. It is a definite advantage to ski. The traverse is long enough that “polling” and “skating” can give you a significant jump on the snowboarders. It is also helpful to have boots with easy to undo bindings. I always bring out my old-school rear entry ski boots for their transition speed (and style). The other thing to consider for this leg is what to wear. This can be a tough decision, as you don’t want to stop and change later in the race if it can be avoided. It can be snowing up on the skifield, but sunny on the lake, so you need to choose wisely. I normally end up wearing my PFD, ski helmet, ski goggles, race top, arm warmers, knee warmers, run socks and some good gloves. A buff or beanie is also good. I prefer to be a bit cold on the ski, but not have to change any clothes until after the paddle section, as this is where you have to remove your PFD and bib, so it makes sense to do a quick change while your bib is off, if needed.

Leg 2: MTB

In the last stretch of the ski I try and undo my boots, if possible. When I hit the transition I step out of my boots, leaving them still attached to my skis. This is fast and it also helps my support crew as the gear is all together. I run to my mtb and put my shoes on, but leave the bindings undone. These are done up once I am up to speed on the bike.

At the end of the mtb I release my mtb shoe bindings and ride the last stretch with my feet on top of my shoes, allowing me to run straight off the bike and jump into my kayak.

Leg 3 Kayak

If conditions permit, I paddle without a spray deck and I wear only socks on my feet, so the bike to boat transition is very smooth and fast. This can be important if you are trying to get on the water and drop someone who may try to ride your wash, of it may mean you can get on the wash of that person in front of you. It is very handy to have one of your support crew members lead you to your boat, as the transition can be busy. During the kayak it is usually the fist time in the race where I will consume some energy. This comes on the form of an electrolyte/carbohydrate drink that I have in my PFD (this has been in there the since the start of the race). Find your rhythm in the boat and work hard. I usually find I can exit the boat without help, leaving my crew free to lead me to my shoes and run belt.

Leg 4 Run

I keep it pretty minimal for the run, with just a little bit of fluid and a gel to get me through to the bike. I wear a basic run belt with one bottle. 

Leg 5 Road Ride

So far I have always used a road bike for this section. Make sure you take a look at your set-up to ensure you have the gears to climb comfortably. I wouldn’t write off using a well set up mountain bike if the conditions were snowy and wet. This leg is always the most painful. The end is close, but you have to work for it. Remember to pace yourself and try be consistent to the top. At the end of the day there is no avoiding the pain… get there then rest!

I hope you have picked up a few tips… This is the sort of the race where everyone has their own formula and this is mine.

Happy training and see you at this years event! 

Hamish is proud to be sponsored by

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Te Anau 8 Hour Enduro – Race Report

The Te Anau Enduro was a new race this year, consisting of mtb, kayak and run laps, approximately 25min in length (at the start of the day). The goal was to complete as many laps as possible in the 8hrs allowed, with the catch being that if you completed 3 different laps (eg run, bike, kayak) in a row you would be awarded a bonus lap.

I was a bit nervous pre event about how this scoring system would work, as if you did four of the same discipline in a row you also gained a bonus lap. My fear was that a mountain biker could take  the victory, if the laps we not evenly created…

The race started with a roar and the pace was quick as we completed a lap of the transition area before proceeding onto the course to do what ever lap we had elected to do first. This race was a big training day for me in my build up to racing Baise Outdoor Quest in China, so I was keen to stick to a kayak, bike, run sequence to maximise the running after riding.

The first laps were all about feeling out the course and getting into the grove of things. I had been a bit run down in the lead up with a solid bought of “man flu”… The first run in particular was a snotty affair as I struggled to clear the airways and find some sort of rhythm. The racing was close for the first 3 laps, but by the end of the run I had opened up a small gap on Deklan, who was racing the same lap sequence as me. I focused on doing my own thing and pacing myself for the full 8 hours, and was pleased to see that as I warmed up and got to know the course my mtb and run times were improving. That was reasonably short lived though and by the 4 hour mark my laps were starting to take a bit longer… I was impressed with the course and was finding it entertaining. I was also enjoying trying to keep the intensity up. The transition area was a hub of activity and the event MC did a great job of hyping things up. Things went smoothly for me, and I was stoked to be a lap up on second place leading into the final stages of the race. Rounding out the 8 hours I was satisfied with my day. I had done 8 solid hours of training and also come away with the win. It was a fun format to and something I will certainly look at doing again.

I would like to thank the event team and marshals for putting on such a great new race, hugely successful and smoothly run for its first year.

I would also like to thank my sponsors, Around the Basin Bike Tours, Torpedo7 and O2B Healthy Ltd.

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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.