Their choice.. Waharau Regional Park. Steve Neary and Keith Crook were both telling everyone what a neat run it would be, while
Total Sport very quietly slipped a 9.9 out of 10 difficulty rating on the Super-Long course!
Raceday was supposed to be pretty miserable... and as usual the forecast was wrong. Total Sport had obviously been very nice to the Weather Gods and it was a magic day.
Kate was with me to do the Short Course and we got there nice and early as usual, the regulars know that it pays to get in early for a good park, with Mal Law and the LTH arriving at the same time as us and Steve & Keith about a minute later. Keith still in a Moonboot for a few weeks with a foot fracture was just there for moral support.
It was still a bit of a hike from the carpark to the start area, to check in and get the pre-race stuff sorted. Most of the usual suspects including Michael Dall were there again.. he should be doing 52 in 52 as he is at nearly every event I am at!
Not much chance to catch up with Susan and Richard at the Inov-8 tent as they were flat out selling. The way their shoes behave on tough runs I am not surprised. I had 3 runners ask me how I was staying upright when they were sliding down hills on their butts!
The X-Talons are magic and almost an unfair advantage!
So after a stirring race briefing from Dave, where he proceeded to try to scare all of the Super-Long Runners into taking the shorter 'Long' Course, we lined up for the start on time as usual!
A nice cruisy gentle and steady uphill and a small downhill right in the first kilometre felt alright... then we turned off the road onto the trail... and started to climb!
There was all sorts, there were steps, boardwalks, tree-roots, grass, flax and lots and lots of mud! It was wonderful trail and I know I would have enjoyed it so much more if it was runnable. But for this big fella there is no way that I can run up a hill that big. Which meant walking... lots! I was one of those Dave was saying should have run the Long course... and I am sure that I will in the future. But for 52 in 52 I need to do 21.1km or longer and the Super Long was the only course on the menu!
Over the next 3km we climbed 330m vertical, then a nice wee 65m downhill for a km. Then another 400+ metres vertical in the next 5km or so got us to the trig.
That should be good, shouldn't it? Downhill now... well, not quite... The first downhills through the trees at the top were very rooty and verry muddy... definitely broken ankle territory if not treated with respect (and that is not what I need now)... I did enjoy this section more though as I could at least run most of it.
We battled our way down the hill, with me being passed much more often that I am used to these days... I didn't feel I had gone out too fast - maybe they just went out too slow! We did get some cracker views on the way down... I had actually run some of this trail before when 3 or 4 of us went of course at the End of the World Run last year.
Down with about 5km to go I came upon Allan Ure from Photos4Sale at the second to last Aid Station... Allan, like me, was having a shit of a day, but we both managed to smile about it!! Allan gets better and better at catching world class photos at these events and Total Sports are on a winner with him!
The last 5km really hurt 400+ metres vertical drop, all on road just hammered the body into submission. I love downhills, but you can only push 90kg onto your knees and hips so many times before every step starts to hurt.
|Photo by Allan Ure, Photos4Sale|
In Waharau Total Sport have just about got the ultimate 21km test and it is a great addition to their stable of runs. I am not ashamed to say that it is too tough for me and I don't see me doing the Super-Long again (but I never say never). I can see me attempting the Long Course and may give it a go next year... plus I will take my togs and hit the Miranda Hot Pools as well!