Wednesday, 13 November 2013

52 in 52 #12 - HBTR #3 - Wine Anyone?

Well after the previous weeks 'non-run in the Hawkes Bay, I was travelling familiar roads the next Saturday on my way to the Hammer Nutrition Hawkes Bay Trail Running Series Event #3 (quite a mouthful that) - the Sacred Hill Happy Hihi... what is a Hihi? It is commonly known as the stitchbird. Cute little fellow too!

We were very fortunate to be able to stay Saturday night with the lovely Lesley Wislon a mere 10km or so down the road from the race... by we I mean the lovely Lainy and my precious daughter Kate who was entered into the 'short' event. It was a luxury to get up 'not-so-early' and cruise down to registration - although we were still one of the first there.
It was a fantastic day with frost on the windscreen at Lesley's house and a real bite in the air, but beautiful blue skies as the pay-off for the cold.

We were parked in the field next to a vineyard - which gave no inkling as to the variety of course we would encounter later in the day.

The Laughing Gno..  oops I mean Philip delivered his usual pep-talk disguised as a race-briefing, then as he has very 'kindly' done at each event, he put the mike in my hands to talk about the challenge and we were off.

First a lap around the upper vineyard, a pleasant little scamper had me thinking maybe this might be the cruisiest of the HBTR Series. After we crossed the mat by the finish after this little lap we veered off to the right  ... and down the hill, into another vineyard, some more cuisy running and then off to the right again and onto the trail.

Some lovely trail followed, ups, downs, through a small stream with a bit of mud thrown in. Back into some farmland for some more rolling country, into the forest and the down and out alongside the river and right at the bottom we were back out onto another vineyard. We ran the stopbank around this vineyard, then through a gate and up a 'nice' climb, then back into  farmland traversing paddock while climbing up towards the lovely marshal at the gate who shepherded us into the forest for a lovely windy jaunt up and down, past a very green pond/lake.

Then up and down some more before coming out onto a piece of trail we had run in the other direction. It was on this bit of trail I bumped into the leaders heading the other way.

This was quite cool as we were also passing runners from the middle distance run. I love to encourage these guys and it works for some.. others who are obviously hurting just look at me like I am nuts! 

We followed this trail along, then back up into the middle vineyard, made a hard right, round the corner, then up into the upper vineyard and re-traced our earlier steps from the short first lap to the finish.....passing Lainy with the camera and some encouragement and Philip still winding me up over the 'course error' I had at Pukeora. Then as we had only done about 11km, we went and did that loop again.

On the next lap #2 I bumped into Alison Kershaw from BNI who was walking up a storm looking very fresh on the mid distance course.

The second lap, as usual, was harder than the first. However runners just ahead and behind kept me honest. The hammy played up a couple of times, especially on the flat which was annoying. I had thought that I might catch up to Kate, but not this time, she went really well and finished her short-course about 10 minutes ahead of my finish. She did come out and run the last few hundred metres with her old dad tho which is always a highlight!

This was a really cool run, with a lot of variation that kept it interesting. Two lap events are a clever and in some ways cool way to do trails.. you are ready for what is coming the second time around, but you also are aware how tough that hill will be when you do it again. Phil and Louise make a point of changing the courses ever year and there is a nice big hill next door that he is trying to get for next, fun, fun.

For the record I finished in 2:10:27 which is faster than the 2 previous HBTR events, so it probably was a bit easier... but it was a truck load of fun!

 One event left in the HBTR Series and I will miss them... maybe they need to have 6 events... just saying!

52 in 52 Race #11 - Ya gotta laugh...

Let me start this post by saying that Hawkes Bay in general have been the most welcoming so far on my road to 52 in 52. The people of the Hawkes Bay BNI have sponsored me generously and Cranford Hospice have attended races, kept in touch and even sent me wine!

This continued when I was given free entry to the Norsewood to Takapau Fun Challenge, a road half marathon between these small Central Hawkes Bay towns. Lizzie from Sports Hawkes Bay, who were organizing the event, bent over backwards to help and get me coverage... to the point where I found myself stopping in Taupo on Saturday morning in transit for a radio interview.

I had a great chat for more than a few minutes with the Saurday announcers and continued my trip. I was aware that the weather hadn't been great in the area, but that had happened before with the race eventually starting in fine weather - take Wellington who started 2 days after the worst downpour since the Wahine storm.

So I finished my 3 and a half hour drive to Waipukarau late morning and set about waiting for Lainy who was arriving on the bus from Wellington where she had been at a funeral. The bus was on time and I was able to greet her with the news that the race had just been postponed for a week... bummer!

I had hopped on Chris Hope's fabulous NZ Running Calendar site to see what options I had
for another run on Sunday - just in case there was one on Wellington or the Manawatu... but there was only one, the Sri Chinmoy in Auckland... ok, that will do!

So, back to Rotorua, with a nice stop for lunch in Napier.

Lainy would have come with me on Sunday but was not very well and we had an Open Home that day, so I left her sleeping as I set off from Rotorua at 4:30am! I like to get to all of my races an hour early at least, it is the way I work and with Sri Chinmoy starting at 8am....

First thing that struck me, the Sri Chinmoy people are fabulous, friendly, warm and genuinely interested in what I was doing. Funnily enough, the same Chris Hope mentioned above was there looking for a cruisy half. Michael Dall - who seems to be everywhere was there, and Jason Buckley who I had met on Facebook (as you do) and got to meet in person for the first time. 

I also met Madeleine Collins, definitely Shaun Collins from Lactic Turkey's better half! Also there was the lovely Anna Longdill visiting from the other end of the country for a run with a friend. Everyone seemed happy and friendly and eager to please - they even gave me number 52!

I travelled through rain most of the way to Auckland, but

as so often happens, the weather cleared about 20 minutes before run time into a lovely, if chilly, morning.

We started off our 8 and a bit laps of the Auckland Domain by heading off in the wrong direction for a little 'out and back' to make the distance up to 21.1km at the end. This was ok as we got to see everybody else in the race as they found their pace.
Then it was off onto lap number one, Chris Hope and I settled at a nice steady pace, me being reminded every now and then about my dodgy hammy.

The first lap was quite pleasant, the second was ok, by lap 3 I was not impressed and when we got to lap 6, 7 and 8 I just wanted it to end. The Garmin figures show that you have only done 164m of vertical climbing, but by the end you have had enough. 

A nature stop in the middle showed how 'un-serious' we were taking it, as we plodded out the laps.

It was an interesting experience, but not one that I will hurry to repeat (unless another race in cancelled). The plus part of it was a great run chatting with Chris, who is a neat bloke and enabled me to keep my sanity running around in circles. I guess 9 and a half hours (793km) of driving to get there may have contributed to my lack of enthusiasm as well.
After the race, the fantastic Sri Chinmoy people lay on breakfast, porridge, fruit, chippies... a lovely energy replacer. In the end Chris and I battled around in 1:49 for my second slowest road half ever and I was happy to have been able to tick off number 11... but not in a hurry to see Auckland domain again... for now.

52 in 52 Race #10 - Taupo Part 1 - Tauhara with Total Sport!

I ran the second Tauhara Trail Run two years ago with it's previous Race Directors and found it a tough but enjoyable run.

This year I was rapt that Total Sport had taken over the running... firstly because they have very generously sponsored me into all of their events and secondly because they give you a beer and a sausage (or two) after the event and finally and perhaps most importantly, they run bloody good events!

The other great thing about this run was that it was the first with the '52-in-52-Mobile'. Taz at Kaz Graphic Dezign had worked out a great look and so during the week I had been over to Hamilton where the great team at Signcraftsmen worked their wonders and transformed the humble Subaru!
Raceday dawned fine but cool and after a quick jaunt down the road I arrived at the race venue on Broadlands Road just up from the Motor Racing Circuit.

Checked in and picked up my number '52'... Nicola Carter of Total Sports looks after me well!

Total Sports events have a great reputation and so I think the numbers exceeded what was expected and so after the queue to the portaloos finally abated the race started just a touch late. 

Photo by Nadege Crocker
Photo by Nadege Crocker
Aaron and Nicola delivered Race Briefings to the waiting runners down by the start line and the waiting runners in the Loo line! THen on to the line for the endorfin loadup of the start and we were off...


A quick burst up and through the farm fields brought us to the quarry next door. Through the quarry and onto the forestry roads and trails, so ups and downs, lots of twists and turns and eventually spat back out onto another forestry road. It was along this road section that my hammy gave me a kick again, slowing me to a near walk for about a kilometre. Slowly though it loosened off and I was able to run at close to full race pace with just the occasional jolt to remind me not to push it too hard. This pattern looks like it will be part of my running right through to the Xmas break!

This was one of the tough bits of the race... a long slow slog over about 2km climbing just over 100 vertical metres. The hard part was watching those ahead cruising back down the hill.

Of course I eventually made it and got to be the one encouraging those on their way up, I would have encouraged Paul Charteris, Race Director Supreme for the Tarawera Ultra, but I was blinded by his white shirtless body!

Back onto the trails for some lovely forest single trail, lots of ups and downs, with slightly more downs in this section... preparing us for the last climb and it is a beauty... about 160 vertical metres in 1.5km. Struggling up here but pushed as hard as I could with the knowledge of the downhill just ahead.
Photo provided by Photos4Sale

Once at the top, it's back onto the farm for a big downhill gallop where my big downhill legs and the fantastic grip of my Inov-8 X-Talons had me zooming past several who were less than comfortable zooming downhill.

Over the finish and a much shorter queue to the sausages than at Xterra - Yay!!!

A really cool day, met a few new people after the race and signed off on race number 10!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

52 in 52 Race #9 - Back to the Beach at Waiuku

Race number 9 took me to my most often raced Xterra Auckland event... at the Waikato River mouth out from Waiuku.

This race was also special last year as it was the first race for my daughter Kate last year. Kate has had some health issues and had gone off running any events, so I was rapt when she asked me if she could run this again to support me in 52 in 52.

So, early start, got the girls loaded (Lainy came too) and we were on the road only 15 minutes late! Normally on my own I leave well before the crack of dawn and get there nice and early and get a park close to the start... not this day, we were well away from the start line and had a nice hile along the muddy road where Lainy realized that trail run meant soft underfoot for everyone and that her boots were not the best!

As usual with Total Sports, everything was organized to a tee, All of the usual suspects were in attendance - Keith Crook, Steve Neary, Lesley Turner Hall, Mal Laws and more and the day, while a bit misty, was very pleasant.

Onto the race itself, steady start, hammy twinging, so kept it real easy up the first few hills. Once loosened up it became easier and I pushed it along at just below 'pain' pace.

After a short road and forst burst the course spits you put onto the sand along the Waikato River, and with the mist still prevalent it lent itself to a great pic with the runners disappearing into the mist (right).

Had a nice chat early on with one of my co-runners for 4 or 5 km's. I am finding that a chat with other runners really makes the race fly by and this was the case yet again. 

Waiuku is sand based, but a bit of mud thrown in. Forestry running to the fore with lots of ups and downs - about 720m of vertical climbing over the run. The last few km's though really make you work, with a couple of really sandy ups and downs and the last km or so is like running through a sandpit.

Thanks to Photos4Sale
All in all an enjoyable run... that came in at 20.9km... below half marathon, but that was ok, as I backtracked out and ran the last 1.3km with Kate and managed to get a great pic crossing the finish line (me for the second time) thanks to Allan Ure from Photos4Sale. I finished in 2:14:33, a bit slower than last year... but more than good enough for me on the day.