The crowd at the start line seemed smaller than usual and as we set off there seemed to be less congestion than the first race at Riverhead three months ago. The course began with a short section of gravel before heading into single track. At Riverhead single track pretty much means clay, and clay plus rain equals lots and lots of mud. Slippery mud, sticky mud, thick mud, sloppy mud, puddles of mud - the works. The downhills proved quite entertaining as grownups slithered around like toddlers on an ice rink. There were plenty of spectacular tumbles! Chris Hope claimed that he found the descents easy because it was simply "controlled falling". Personally, I tend more toward 'controlled' rather than 'falling' but there were plenty who appeared well acquainted with the latter.
The 4wd roads had numerous large vehicle-size mud puddles which I diligently avoided as there was no telling how deep they were. The gravel roads were simply a necessary evil and as usual lots of people passed me on these sections. Thankfully these road stints were shorter than I had been expecting from the map. Malcolm Law caught up just before halfway and we had a bit of a chat before embarking on a game of leapfrog which continued all the way to the finish. One thing which I have enjoyed about the Xterra Series is the feeling of camaraderie which develops from running with some of the same people at each race, most of whom I don't even know by name.
The course was mostly runnable (apart from a few slippery uphills) and I really enjoyed it. Definitely seemed to be a nicer course than the first Xterra race at Riverhead. I ran at a comfortable long distance pace, picking up the intensity a little over the last 7km. 2:12 for a muddy 21km was a morning well spent.