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