6 Weeks

Its been a crazy 6 weeks!! I raced the Yurribrilla Ultra on the 23rd September POST HERE. A few days after that Jane and I opened the BCR Trail Shop. Its been pretty busy and a little hectic getting that up and running, but very exciting. Right around that time I got a cold and little Isabella was not sleeping very well, so I was getting pretty beat down and tired. This was nothing compared to the beat down I was about to get! I knew as soon as I heard about the 60km being added to the Waihi Xterra Challenge I would

be on the start line. It was a 5am start and as expected Dennis de Monchy took off. I was happy to ease into it and start out at a relaxed pace. About 2.5hrs in I caught sight of Dennis and a while later was running with him. Still feeling relaxed and running easy at 30k a monkey suddenly jumped on my back and I was reduced to a grovel. I am not sure what it was- I am guessing just being sick and tired in the lead up caught up on me?? For the next 10km anything that looked like a hill was being walked, but I was still able to run the down hills at a good pace. At 40km we returned to the start/finish area and headed out for a final 20km with about 500 other runners doing shorter distance races. By now is was pissing rain and the trails were a mess. I knew the race was over as it would be hard to make up the 3-4 mins Dennis had on me with so much traffic on the trail. I tried to enjoy the race as best I could, walking a large section of uphill, but loving the downs. Dennis ran a great race and really deserved the win! He finished in 7hr03 and I in 7hr09, with Darren Blackwell in 3rd.

So less than a week after that I was hanging out at home working and looking after Bella, with about 10cm of snow on the ground outside and the phone rings. To paraphrase it went along the lines of “Hi Grant, Ian Edmond here, how would you like to go to Brazil, in 10 days….” If you haven’t heard of Ian, he is kind of a big deal! 1995 C2C champ and adventure racing bad ass. His wife Nora, who is from Brazil, was contacted about putting together a team for the Rocky Man adventure race. Rocky Man is a team relay race with surfing, Mt biking, Stand Up Paddle Board, Mt running, paragliding, a team outrigger canoe and team run!! The team’s runner, Baz Smith from Queenstown, was injured, so totally out of the blue I got a late call up! So after about 35hrs of travel I arrived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil hot and very tired. I was met by a very “excited” Ian and met the team- the lovely Nora our manager (aka baby sitter), stand up paddle boarder world champ Annabel Anderson and rad man Mike Stewart- our surfer and para-glider from Queenstown. We did some practise in the outrigger canoe- turns out I suck at this and tried to rest, while trying to max out my limited time in Brazil.

It was a mixed bag of racing- there were little to no waves, the mountain bike was all on the road, the SUP was a bit of a drag race, my 32km, 1500mD+ run was mostly on the road, but what trails there were, were super fun and the paraglide take off sounded pretty lose! The logistics for this race are insane and I could not believe how well the race was run. Rio makes for such a crazy setting to this kind of race and it was a great experience. My run started with a flat 2-3km on the road and people took it out very hard! I sat back, but even being conservative I was over heated and cooked within 30mins… I backed it off and tried to relax on the rolling road section and once we hit some single track and got back into it and started picking people off. I passed about 5 people in the 2nd half of the race, finishing 7th in about 3hr11, but had lost a lot of time on those in front of me… We had a few hours and then had the canoe, conditions were rough  about 3 teams had their boat filled with water and had to be rescued  I was bailing water a lot and feeling like shit. After 6 laps, bumping into other boats and waves crashing over the boat we hit the beach running. I am not sure in what position we were after the paddle, maybe 5-6th, but within 2mins we passed a team and continued to pass teams the whole run. We SMASHED the run! It was a pretty cool feeling to pick off teams like this, but it wasn’t enough, as we finished 6th over all. What a day! We returned to the hotel, cleaned up and I packed my bags and was off to the airport at 3am the next morning and endured 30+hrs travel home. Have to say a huge Thank You to Ian and Nora for the late call up and for the 2 of them for taking such great care of the team in Brazil and to team mates Mike and Annabel, as well as Carolina our guide in the canoe!

Between Waihi and Rio was the Sumner Running Club yearly awards dinner. I have hardly worn my SRC singlet this year but headed along to catch up with friends. I was totally blown away to receive the Bob Boland Cup for best senior performance. I was really blown away by this and very very humbled- a real honour.

Next up is the Kepler. It will be a great day on the trails and I will be lining up with no expectations. It has been a long year of racing. I was feeling very positive about the Kepler after Waihi, but after the huge travel and extra race in Brazil I will just take it as it comes. I am sure this last year has made me a lot stronger than what I was a year ago and my training the last 6 months has been as good and as smart as I have ever trained  the question is how well I can rest and recover.

Looking past Kepler I think I am going to scrape all racing for early 2013, we will see I guess.

Yurribilla Ultra

Yurribilla Ultra
– hands down one of the funnest trips and races I have been on!

I was pretty sure when I first was told about this race that I wouldn’t be going, but when oppotunity knocks, you have to take it, and run! And I am so happy I did. At first I had never heard of the race and didn’t think it would work well post CDR- I was hesitant to commit to anything post CDR and I had already been away from home for about a month this year. But things really fell into place and the enthusiasm from race directer Sadie Cranston was hard to turn down.

Pre race I did an interview with ABC 891 radio in Adelaide, which is HERE

Rather than post a full race report here I will direct you to an interview I did with SportzHub.

Overall a very successful and satisfying trip to the Yurribilla Ultra. Did the 1st place and course record have something to do with this- yes, but more so was the people I met and friendships made. It was such a pleasure to chat with so many enthused runners before and after (even during) the race.

Next up is the Total Sport Xterra Waihi 60km– aka the Kaimai Killer! With 2800mD+ it will be a tough one. I did an interview a while back, post CDR, with the Total Sport crew- it’s HERE. It will be a good race, with some has been map reader and a long haired hippy that sits down to pee among others lining up. They have been training hard together in what seems to be a budding bromance- I expect to be dragged around and beaten about by these 2! Will be great to catch up with the NI crowd and run some new trails with friends I don’t get to see much.

And if you have not heard, Jane and I opened the Backcountry Runner Trail Shop this week. Exciting times- check it out for lots of great trail running related paraphernalia.

Post CDR/Pre Yurrebilla Trail

Things have been going well since the CDR almost a month ago. I, surprisingly, came out of the race better in many respect than what I went into it and the recovery has been good. The CDR was the #1 focus from about mid December, even though I didn’t really feel like I knuckled down and trained for it until early April. The blow out at BR was maybe not ideal, but was a blast. So next up is the Yurrebilla Trail on September 23rd- a 56km ultra in the hills behind Adelaide, in South Australia. It’s crazy to think I am hopping on a plane to go to a race again. My Yurrebilla training really only started about 2 weeks ago with some good speed/tempo stuff and easy runs. So far the longest post CDR run has been about 20ish km (if you want to check up on my training?? you can go here).  Pretty excited about the Yurrebilla Trail- new place, new trails and new people- can’t wait to explore the place in what limited time I have in Adelaide. There is a good map/profile HERE of the race.

Other stuff-

Drymax socks have been nice enough to start supporting me! Stoked as they are easily the best socks I have ever used. I had the bottom of my feet almost peal off after the 2011 Routeburn. Blisters galore. I then rocked my first pair of Drymax socks 2 weeks later at the TNF100 Australia without a single foot/blister issue- sold on them ever since.

I did an interview about my win at CDR with the local Darfield weekly paper the Malvern News. If you didn’t get a copy then I am guessing you never will, pretty much a collectors item by now. I also did an interview with Radio Sport. You can hear it HERE

And now for random photos that likely have little meaning to anyone but me….

Broken River King of the Mountain

“You guys are so underground, you’re what bouldering wishes it was”  I had to agree with StevieE, the sport of ski mountaineering racing is extremely underground in NZ. After a short existence between 2006- 2009 when I was organising a series of races the only event has been a super low key race in QT, part of the Winter Festival, that is a short skin up Coronet Peak. For some reason this race is more or less not at all promoted and I have even been told it is “really just a race for locals”?? So yes, the sport is underground, but to my delight a day or 2 before I took off to Canada I got an e-mail from Barrett at Broken River Ski Area telling me there was going to be a race and could I spread the word- could I ever! Well I tried to anyways.

Barrett explains the course- the boot pack up Margo’s is directly above his head

Race day dawned sunny and calm which helped make up for the less than desirable snow conditions. I was thinking and with no disrespect to anyone, that I would have a fun little skin around and win the “race” (I was looking at it as more of a social occasion) pretty easy- then right before the brief a guy in a one piece suit turns up- great, I was going to have to try now. Barrett counted down and we all took off- well Chillis and the guy in the one piece lycra did. I chased and took over the lead as we started the climb up the main basin and with no skin track- it was way too firm for that- we tacked like a yacht race up to the bottom of Margo’s to the boot pack. I arrived just in front and lead up and chatted with the lycra clad man. “I have heard of you”– that is never good, “Chris, Chris Forne”. I replied saying we are even cause I had heard of Chris, he is after all a pretty big deal in adventure racing and orienteering circles, like a really big deal. This had me worried as we booted up cause I knew I was not gonna drop Chris, he is way too strong and I was already feeling like I needed to puke. Into the transition and out in less than a minute, Chris however, could not say the same, fumbling with boots, bindings and skins. Even with having to stop on the ski down due to a lack of flagging I built a good 90sec+ buffer. I held this on the short next climb and skied back to Palmer Lodge. A packed deck of people waiting for the snow to soften, aided by a lack of any finish line timer, had no idea I was winning the race as I crossed the line. Knowing this I decided it would be funny (at least to me) to pump my fists in the air and yell. This was of course was greeted with many a strange look until a lady asked if I had just won the race and then people clapped- Yes, we are underground.

the usual suspects post race


Chris was about 2mins back and Tim Ensor had a blinder rounding out the podium. Huge thanks to Barrett and the Broken River crew for hosting this great little race. I really hope this event is back next winter and we can get a few more folks turning out.

Here is my “Move”from the race- it was just a wee fella

My Owsome CDR Trip

My Owsome CDR Trip

Marcelo, myself, Julia and Jeremy pre CDR. Photo PV

“Go Death Racer…”– Jeremy randomly yelled as we dodged mud puddles early in the race. To our amusement an unseen runner behind us responded with great enthusiasm – “GO DEATH RACER!”. It wasn’t until about 13hrs later, when I hit 104th St in Grande Cache, that I smiled like that again when hearing those words…. During those 13hrs I experienced the highs and lows that one would expect during an ultra, but unfortunately for me I was experiencing then in what felt like a sauna. Jeremy and I run 2nd and 3rd together into the 19km check point a few mins down on last years runner-up Ricky Reusser. I was feeling good and quickly (and unexpectedly) pulled away from Jeremy early into the 2nd leg. I run most of the climb to Flood and Grand mountain, unlike last year when I walk most of these climbs, and arrived back into Grande Cache in 4hr30, about 4mins down on Ricky. These 1st 2 legs of the race I run pretty easy and felt great apart from my toes that got mashed from the steep descents. During the next stage I stopped at every one of the small creeks to throw water over my self, wet my hat and fill a bottle that I used to pour over my self. I was surprised to catch a glimpse of Ricky ahead and despite to a few more times at streams I was catching him with ease.We walked a hill together and Ricky told me his quads where trashed from the descent from Grand. As we crest the hill I started running and made a gap – it was strange I was leading that race, something I haven’t done in a long time. About 55km into a 125km race I was leading. I let that sink in and at the same time told my self it didn’t matter to how I wanted to run the rest of the race. I made sure to make a good break on Ricky as I was expecting him to come back and he did pass me as I was running up the highway – he was in a car having pulled the pin on the race. Hmm, that changed things, but Jeremy was still behind me and he had put 1hr on me in 50km at the HK100 in February so I knew I still had a race on my hands. I got into the 65km check point well up on my time from last year and feeling OK, but I was starting to get very hot. The climb up Hamel was pretty slow going, slower than I run it last year, but not as slow as Jeremy (unknown to me at the time) and I put some more time on him. At 88km there is a 5km loop which I did in about 30mins + the time I spend fueling at the aid station I knew I had at least 35mins on 2nd, now with not much more than 30km to go. I was starting to get excited that I might just have this thing. But it wasn’t smooth sailing as my toes where really hurting and the heat was crushing me. Coming from winter and training in freezing temps on snow-covered trails to 27+ degree temps with a warm wind was hard going, even having dumped about 8L of water of myself during the day.

Leaving CP5 and on my way to “getting er done”. Photo- PV

At the final check point I was greeted by Phil and Marcelo who had been taking great care of me all day – Phil was always sure to hurry me out and not let me hang out. I changed in to my SpeedCross3, had some coke and left with multi caffeinated gels and red bull. I was well up on my time from last year at this point, and was excited about what is the best bit of single track in the whole race from CP5 to the river. Last year I closed well but this year I knew I was going to just be trying to hang on, still not 100% how far back Jeremy was. I was surprised to get to the river more or less the same as last year, despite a large amount of walking. The short jet boat ride was fun and I could have just stayed sitting on that boat knowing the steep climb that lay a head – the final stretch home was a bit of a blow out. I was greeted by Ricky Reusser who had hiked in a wee way to see me finishing, I felt like crying when he said 5km to go, but a few minutes later I popped out on a dirt road where 3x CDR winner Jack Cook was hanging out. Jack told me 2.5km togo and offered me “beer or coke”- I went with the coke and hooked into the final km’s. I popped out onto 104th St where every other house had people sitting outside, bbqing, partying and yelling “Go

Satisfied to say the least! Photo- PV

Death Race”- Thats when I really smiled again. I crossed in 13hr27, about 20mins faster than last year. I had hopped to go faster, but very happy with that time on what I found to be a very hot day. I felt really beat down from the heat in the 2nd half of the race even after dunking my head in every creek on that course.

This trip to Canada has been pretty special. Its been a real fun time getting to hang out with fellow Salomon team mates Jeremy and Julia, as well as our owsome guide and Salomon brand ambassador Phil.We have had a bunch of laughs and taking 3 podium spots made for a succesful weekend for Salomon Running. Jeremy had a hard day of it, but hang in and finished 2nd, while Julia lead the womans race from start to finish!

“Thanks you’s”- Have to give a huge thank you to Phil, Julia and Jeremy for a great trip, as well as Salomon Running for the huge support in getting me here and also Suunto Australia and Udo’s Oil. Thank you so much for the support! And Jane for putting up with and being so supportive of my training and running.

A little relaxing and time with my 2 lovely girls awaits and maybe even a little ski mountaineering race at Broken River in 1 week. Then next running race is Yurrebilla Trail Ultra, a 56km race in the hills behind Adelaide in South Australia in about 5 weeks time. This looks to be a  great little race on some sweet trails – I can’t wait!


Laying Low In Canmore

After the long, but thankful smooth, trip to Calgary I was greeted by Phil at the airport and when then headed to Canmore, along with Julia who has travelled from Germany (Jeremy travelling from Hong Kong was delayed). After visiting a few coffee spots with Julia I visited a dentist to get a x-ray on  a tooth that started giving me grief the day before I left home and are now taking some anti-bioethics. Less than idea, but better than a tooth infection I guess. Jeremy arrived and Phil gave us a guided run on some sweet single track. We have been filtering through the massage therapist and more or less repeated our first day here again- coffee hang outs and easy runs.

We are taking off today on the long, but extremely scenic drive to Grande Cache, which will be transformed into one big ultra-running/festival town by the time we arrive. Race day temps could be around 25degress- not bad if you have spent the summer in those temps, but less than ideal if you have had the last few months in freezing temps like I have.

I have been posting photo’s here and Phil will be doing race updates on Twitter @S_FlightCrew and @SalomonRunning and likely Facebook also. You can check out the race web site here Canadian Death Race

CDR- Round 2….

Off today to Canmore (and then on to Grande Cache) for the 125km Canadain Death Race. This will be my 2nd crack at the CDR, with a 3rd place last year.

A recent (last 4 months) total change up in training and more recently an over haul of my diet and a greater focus on core/strength work I feel like a totally different runner from 12months last year.

Final prep talks last nice with the one and only Marty Lukes (sadly not over a punt this time) and Christophe via skype.

Ricky Gates before last years CDR and his course record run

I can’t wait to get to Canmore and have  a little trail time with fellow Salomon team mates Jeremy, Julia and PV.

I will hopefully get a few updates out from Canada and I am sure PV will be twitting/facebooking updates come race day!