My body and mind finally felt like it recovered from the NZ Mt running champs a week earlier by the time we rolled into Te Anau on Friday and after a little 15min jog along the lake and the pre race meeting I was ready to go. For some reason the pre race meeting always gets me in the mood to race and the Routeburn pre race talk has the added bonus of being extremely entertaining!
The forecasted rain finally arrived Friday night which added a little bit of humming and haring of clothing and shoe choice. It was pretty warm so I opted for just a long sleeve top and the grippiest pair of shoes (also the lightest) I have to combat the wet, slippery rock – some Inov-8 212 and my 2xu Race socks.
There was light, steady rain as 300+ competitors walked 700m down the Milford highway to where we started the race. I was still not 100% set on my race tactics at this point. With a lack of a real stand out race favorite for this year’s race (I had a quick chat to 2007 winner Jim Hawkeridge and race director Evan McWhirter and both said it was “wide open this year”) I figured I would sit and wait until Howden Hut at least, confident that someone would start out fast enough that we would hit my desired split and reasses. I cruised into the single track in about 4th, before moving into 2nd and catching up to the “rabbit” just before the key summit turn off. We had a small but significant lead by the time we reached Howden in 21mins, 1min off what I was after. We were making good time for a bit, before I started to worry about the pace slowing. At Earland Falls I made my move, picking up the pace to make up for what felt like some lost time. The support around here was pretty great from walkers that were going from Lake Mackenzie to Howden. They all jumped off the track giving me heaps of room and support. I rolled into the Mackenzie check point feeling good and about 4mins ahead of time. My goal was for a sub 3hr run and my projected splits I had on my hand was for about a 2hr55min, so I was happy to be early! I started to feel last week’s race in my hamstrings on the climb into the alpine here and power walked a few of the steep sections. I looked back a few times but really struggled to see anyone?! I tried to push along these legs to Harris Saddle, probably my favorite section of the track. I was able to get a good look back at the stairs below Harris, nothing but track and I was pretty confident at this point that if I made it down the track down hill in one piece I would have the win. 45mins to Harris Saddle Shelter from Mackenzie and I was still ahead of my projected splits.
The view, or lack of view, of Lake Harris was pretty cool, low fog/cloud hanging over the lake. It started to rain pretty good along here, but I managed to move along at a good pace, reaching a marshal less Routeburn Falls check point right on time, despite the base of my heal starting to give me some trouble on the rocky down hill. I somehow injured my heal last week at the Mt running champs and it was starting to remind me that it was still a little tender. By the time I hit the flats I was still moving along, but was feeling myself slow, with my hamstrings getting tighter. Small rocky creek crossing, side walk, toilet, little up hill, hard left turn, bridge, another bridge, long straight, nature walk, LOUD SPEAKER!! Thats what I had been waiting to hear…….
The 2 blokes with mics at the finish were pretty good value and one of them knew my parents quite well, so as I crossed the line these guys already had the dirt on me and even payed me out on my ginger beard! In the end I was pretty pumped on my 2hr53min20sec time. I think that this might be the 3rd fastest time, behind record holder Richard Usser (90sec) and 2009 winner Jacob Roberts (30sec). My folks were at the finish with a change of clothes and I started to warm up while waiting. 5mins, 10mins, 15mins!? I was starting to wonder what was going on and then James Greenslade-Yeats (who has beaten me in the ’08 Flagpole and ’10 Skyline) crossed in 3hrs12mins.
I was all wrapped up drinking some chicken soup, counting down to the 4hr mark. Jane’s goal was for a sub 4hr race. At 3hr45min they announced that the first lady was not far. I didn’t want to get excited, but I knew if Jane was having a good day she could ran sub, or at least near to 3hr50, especially because she had some slick new racing flats. Jane was looking pretty wet and tired when they announced her name as she crossed the bridge and made the final small climb to cross the line. I was was probably more excited than Jane at this point! 3hr47min! Jane was pretty stoked!
Article on 2010 Routeburn Classic HERE
My summer season is pretty much over now and I am gonna call it a success. I have to say a huge thank you to the support that I have had over the summer that has helped with this success. Without doubt Jane is at the top of the list! Then would be my parents for their support this past weekend, an early start, lots of driving and then hanging out in the rain and they were smiling the whole time. Karen from Fit For Life, Andrew and the Fuel Me team and Holly at Snoworld via Julbo have been great! As have a heap of folks, some I hardly know that have wished me luck for races. And yeah, you too for following along and reading this silly little blog. I know on the big scale of things that what I am doing counts for little, but I set myself a few goals and pretty much nailed every one of them this summer. Your support helped me do this – Thanks!
I’ll post my splits (and maybe Jane’s) later in the week and a link to the results when they are up. For now we are relaxing down in Riverton for a few days!