Saturday, November 16, 2013

Steelman Ironmaiden

34km Road Cycle, 12km Kayak, 26km MTB, 13km Run

Woke up on Saturday morning feeling a bit under the weather with itchy eyes, congested face, and a headache. Nevertheless there was no way I wasn’t going to race.

As the road cycle got underway I didn’t even attempt to stick with a bunch. Just cruised along the country lanes as I didn’t feel up to racing. Was by myself for the first undulating 20km, but Rudy and Mark (racing as a semi-traverse team) caught me up at the beginning of the plains. I tucked in between them and Rudy dragged us along at 32km/h for the last 10km to transition. This was enjoyable as I usually have to slog sections like this by myself.

A slick transition into the kayak, with all gear changing done while running from the road to the river edge. On the water there was slight headwind and incoming tide but pretty good conditions on the whole with not too much weed. I overtook 3 paddlers in the first 3km before entering “The Windies”, where Rudy & Mark (in a double) caught me up. Their team was just out for fun so they slowed down a little to let me tuck in behind. I stuck with them for quite a while and they kept me amused with their banter and total inability to keep in time. Eventually I dropped off the pace but they remained in sight until the transition. I wasn’t really racing – I just wanted to get to the finish as quickly as possible so I could stop!

Once on the mountain bike things got even worse as we battled through long grass and rough paddocks to reach the forest. The juddering aggravated my headache and I was not looking forward to the next couple of hours. Riding the forest roads wasn’t too bad, albeit hot work. Then the torturous single track began. In one word: Sand. Riding in sand is not my idea of fun at the best of times. My lack of off-road riding showed, and many times it was faster to push my bike than to ride. A passing rider encouraged me to keep going – I wryly pointed out that I had no other choice! There was no way I was going to DNF. The one bonus of the single track was that it was mostly in the shade. Eventually the track spat us back onto the road and I estimated there were 3km remaining to the transition (my calculations were off – it was actually 6km). By now I was in a bad headspace, muttering darkly to myself that I would never do this race again. I was hot, hungry, and had a pounding head.

By the time I reached T3 I was feeling pretty rotten. My water had run out 3km from the end and I had underestimated how much food to take. After sculling some electrolyte drink I slipped on my new Inov-8 Trailroc shoes and heard Dad say quietly, “Now it’s time for your good run”. This was enough to snap me back into a better mood. As I left transition Mum called out that I was 3rd woman, which came as a complete surprise. With running shoes on my feet I immediately perked up and by the top of the first small climb I was feeling the best I had all day.

Down to Karioitahi Beach, along the black sand, then a steep climb to the cliff tops. I took a tumble when my feet got caught while running through knee-high grass, but apart from that I just kept motoring on. Going around Lake Puketi was hot work out of the wind. I spotted Rudy & Warren just cresting the top of the next hill but it wasn’t until we hit the tarseal that I overtook them. I had settled into a good rhythm and steadily reeled people in. As I passed one lady she kindly offered me a jelly snake which I gratefully accepted. Over the last 5km it was encouraging to see the houses of Waiuku gradually getting closer and I pushed the pace as much as I could sustain. Because I hadn’t gone too hard in the first 3 stages my legs were feeling quite fresh.

As I rounded the rugby fields towards the finish line, I heard it announced that I was 2nd woman. A totally unexpected result considering I was feeling pretty grotty.
My run was good and I placed well, but it was by far the worst race I’ve ever had!

A big thanks to Dad for being a fantastic support crew, and to Mum for the encouragement and photos.

Kayak     1:28:03


  1. Hey Heather, Quick message as not sure if you will be alerted to this comment and see this. I wanted to get in touch about a team multisport event, but couldn't find any contact details on your blog. Could you drop me a quick email to so I can drop you some info in a reply?? Thanks :)

    1. I have just updated my profile with contact details.

    2. Ah sweet, will drop you an email tomorrow :)