The Big O) also had to be changed on race day due to the weather.
Once Margo appeared the transponder was quickly swapped and I headed off. The first 3km was road and gravel which served as a good warmup. The climbing began almost immediately but it was a fairly gentle gradient. After 17 minutes I reached the next aid station at the top of Millar Rd (this was the only one I would pass). From here on was nice single track which was interesting to run without being overly technical. Because I had fresh legs I was continually passing people and managed to run continuously for the first 50 minutes until a short steep section slowed me to a walk. The track kept working its way up and for the most part was runnable and slightly undulating, although I did walk several parts. This run was a training run for me, so I pushed fairly hard to see where I was at after a couple of months off and was pleased with my performance. The conditions were perfect for running - nice temperature, very light drizzle, and a dry track (at this stage!). I smashed out the long downhill towards the Okataina outdoor camp and from the junction which marked 3km to the camp I absolutely hammered it as I knew it was all downhill to the lake.
Running in to the aid station I looked around in vain for Kate but was told that we had to carry on along the Eastern Okataina Walkway before returning to the aid station to change over. This took me completely by surprise but I took it in my stride and headed back out without knowing how much further I would have to run (4km). This section of narrow single track was a little tricky as there was a steady stream of runners in both directions. Coming back into the aid station I still couldn't find Kate so I walked all the way through the station and back before spotting her. The only slight hitch was that our fourth runner, Tilly, was still in the toilets! After seeing Tilly off on her way back to Okareka, Kate & I headed back to the finish line. For a couple of hours we stood in the wind and rain watching runners finish and chatting to other people we knew. Eventually we were cold and completely drenched as the rain had set in and the wind was howling so we returned to our hotel for a spa and hot shower to warm up before going back to cheer on the last runners.
I had a fantastic run and really enjoyed it, doing about 22km in 2:16 hours. Considering I'd had almost 2 months off running I ran strongly and felt great. Look forward to returning in 2015 either as a relay or solo.
|Team Kori Kita Sportswear|
Margo, Kate, and me (missing Tilly)
A big thanks to Paul Charteris, all the organising crew and the volunteers who braved the storm for hours on end. Thanks also to Kori Kita for the relay team, and to Allan Ure from Photos4sale and the other photographers who subjected their equipment (and themselves) to the appalling conditions.