Sunday, August 10, 2014

Xterra #5 - Waharau

I had been looking forward to this race in the Hunua Ranges as it was touted as the most technical of the Xterra series, with lots of climbing and proper bush single track. It did not disappoint!

 The event base was set up at a superb location with grassy flats, native bush, a small stream, and sheep grazing peacefully nearby. Idyllic. A short race briefing at the start line as usual, but Dave forgot to mention the two closed gates within the first few hundred meters. Agility was a bonus here as I simply climbed over the gates rather than queuing up for the stile. I had been warned that the single track started fairly soon so I pushed a little harder than I normally would from the start so as not to be caught up in any traffic jams. A kilometer or so of gently uphill gravel before we turned right and headed steeply up the Upper Link track and then onto the Waharau Ridge to the first aid station at 4.5km. It was a bit of a game of cat-and-mouse as people jostled for position but I encountered no real issues with congestion. I reached the aid station in 35 minutes and headed right onto the Super long course while the Longies turned left. Ahead of us lay a glorious 10km loop of rugged single track over the highest point in the Hunua Ranges (and the Auckland region) at 688m.

The wide downhill track to a stream was nice to stretch the legs after the relentless climb, then it was a few kilometers up the Mangatangi Ridge towards Kohukohunui Trig (688m). I was relishing the bush and technical trails and felt completely at home, despite never having run in the Hunuas before. The field was very spread out which meant I was free to run at my own pace. I reached the trig in 1:25 hours and was almost tempted to climb the lookout tower but instead carried on down the nice long section of undulating muddy downhill. This was so much fun and I wanted this track to just keep on going! Many of the knobs on Kohukohunui Track were grassy, providing excellent views towards the Firth of Thames and the Coromandel Peninsula, as well as occasionally back towards the Hauraki Gulf.

I flew through the aid station at 15km and began the long, long descent back towards the event base. I'm sure the descent was longer than the ascent at the beginning! I was still feeling great and in some ways I wished we could do another loop. After a glorious run I finished strongly in 2:46 hours. This course definitely suited my strengths and is the best race of the Xterra series!

Once again a huge thankyou to Photos4sale for their support of my racing this year.

Photos by Photos4sale

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