My Tarawera/Northburn Double– yeah, not really the “double” ……..
But before Tarawea, this story begins in a far, far away place. A magical land, famed for its pissed uni students, tropical weather and a very expensive stadium that no one really wanted…. In addition to these claims to fame, Dunedin is also the home town of international bad ass runner Anna Frost and thus the first port of call for a collection of the International Salomon Running Team. The chance to run with the WeeMan and Frosty on their home trails, see some old friends and meet some new ones was too good to pass up so I headed south, car camping in Trotter George on the way and meeting the team early morning. We headed up the Pineapple Track and to Flagstaff and then on to the aptly named “Swampy”. We had thick fog and zero views, but I was far from disappointed.
The trails on the hills above Dunedin were great fun. Good climbs, some great single track and I am sure on a clear day a view! run details HERE.
The big downfall of this run was trying to keep up with Greg and Francois…. On the last big downhill I was doing an OK job of not being totally embarrassed by their very impressive downhill running, until I slipped backwards- no big deal. That was until I went all the way over landing on my back. Luckily there was a nice big rock for me to fall on and my ribs broke my fall. At first I was not sure if I was going to get up, but I slowly did and kept running to not lose face. 3 weeks later and I can still feel my ribs where I landed on them and having trouble sleeping from them. But at least they don’t hurt running anymore….
The next day was also great fun and we even had a few views! We headed up first to the Organ Pipes and then onto Mt Cragill. While everyone else kept going onto Signal Hill and a BBQ at Anna’s, I high tailed it for home, stopping in on my 93 year old Grandma on the way.
Only just home and I was packing again, this time for Rotorua and the Tarawera Ultra. I met up again with Team Salomon and a host of other great folks! I had a great run on the new Tarawera Trail with Simon Yock and Sage Canaday the Wednesday before the race which was a real highlight, before my pacing duties on Race day. I was able to spend a magical 4hrs with Mick Donges, running the final 36km with him, despite his best efforts to drop me.
The Northburn 100 finally rolled around and I was excited to race in only my 2nd race of the year, despite attending many an event in some kind of hangeroner, groupy, wanabe type fashion. I of course was not here for the main event and was doing the “fun run”, 50km, 2200mD+ race. But before that I had the BCR Trail Shop all set up for the Friday check in. Well this is always very tiring, it is also great fun as I get to meet so many folks. We lined up in what was a 3 horse race in the 50km. Martin Cox, Gary Melhuish and myself. We all had a turn at the front, got off course for 6-8mins and generally F’ed about……. At 39km we were all together still, sharing a drink. At 40km the race was totally blown apart. I blew up and Martin ran past me while I was walking. I then ran past Gary while he was walking. Then Matty Able, who was racing the 100km, ran past both Gary and I and Gary walked away from me….. I grovelled home in 5hr18mins. Martin 10mins ahead and Gary in-between. It was a good hit out and I reminded myself the importance of eating early in a race.
My back and sciatic nerve have been playing havoc after taking that fall a few weeks ago in Dunedin and today it was even pointed out to me that I don’t look very smooth as I run. I have time and have been working hard to get things right, so I am sure I will be fine by the time UTMF rolls around. Other than this my UTMF build up is going great- at least I think it is and I guess I will not really know until the wee hours, in the dark and cold, on the southern flanks of Mt Fuji in a few weeks.
As for the “Double”- well I clearly did not do it- but Fai sure did! He became the first person to do the TuM/NB back to back. It was great to see and he did it hard- “Fire” course at Tarawera and then missed a loop during the 2nd lap at Northburn, so he did that on the last lap- a 70km last lap and a hard way to finish. Great stuff Fai!