Monday, September 23, 2013

The Big O 35km

. . . Which was actually a Big Squiggle 48km.

 The 35km trail run was supposed to head 20km down the eastern side of Lake Okataina before getting shuttled by boat across to the Western Okataina Walkway and 15km back to the event centre. Heavy rain throughout Friday night eased to misty drizzle by race start on Saturday and the air temperature was quite warm but the wind was cool.
Planned 35km course

We lined up inside the indoor equestrian centre and I made sure I was right up the front to avoid getting locked into a slower pace early on. Up through farmland to begin with, before embarking on the first 3km bush-crashing section. Here there was no track – only bits of tape tied to trees to indicate where to head. Lots of fun but not very fast! A tiny bit of 4wd road before another short but incredibly steep bush-crash where I gained the lead on the women’s field. From here we were on DOC tracks which were pretty good but with a bit of windfall. One steep haul over to the Outdoor Education Camp aid station (10km mark). Just past here the 21km course veered off to the right and the long course headed down to Lake Okataina. The Eastern Okataina Walkway was nice interesting running, but not technical enough to slow things down. A few undulations along the lake edge provided enough change of pace.

By my rough estimation I was nearing the aid station at 20km, where we were to get a boat shuttle across to the Western Okataina Walkway, when Chris Morissey suddenly appeared running towards me. He called out that the boat ride had been cancelled because the lake was too rough so they were making us do an out-and-back. It took a couple of minutes to adjust my race strategy as I had counted on having a break to refuel and stock up while waiting for the boat. Quick calculations also told me that we would be running 40km instead of 35km. When Kelvin Meade came past he said the turn around was only a couple of minutes ahead but it was more like 10 minutes. The red checkpoint tent was a welcome sight and I was pleasantly surprised to find I was in 4th place! A brief stop to refill water then I headed off clutching a big handful of salty chips. Those chips worked wonders and I left with a renewed sense of energy despite my legs starting to feel a little tired.
Actual course

Back along the Eastern Okataina Walkway ticking off landmarks as I went. Reaching the 21km split we turned left and immediately began a long, brutal climb. This ascent sucked the remaining spring out of my legs and as this section was not on our intended route so I had no clue what to expect. Undulating up along the ridge I began to pass the tail-enders from the 21km which gave me targets to focus on. We were well and truly up in the cloud, and in the exposed parts it was a bit cool.  I kept looking at my watch to estimate how far it was to the finish line which should have been 10km from the 21km split, but in actual fact it turned out to be roughly 16km. Descending 400m off the ridge through farmland was a little sketchy as it was difficult to spot the white route markers in the thick cloud and a couple of times a came to a complete halt as I scanned for the next marker. Eventually we came to the last hill (which I recognised from our way out) then it was down the other side and through to the finish. I crossed the line ecstatically in 5:53 hours  – 1st woman and 4th overall! Chris greeted me with the news that we had just run 48km; 13km further than planned.
                      Leg time      Elapsed time
10km mark       1:30
20km mark       1:15               2:45
21km split        1:19               4:04
Finish               1:48               5:53
4x Gu chomps
2x Tararua Biscuits
1x Nut bar
1 handful of deliciously salty chips!

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