Oh man I love this race!
A perfect day for the Coastal – slight cloud and a fresh Easterly
breeze to keep the sun from scorching.
The Family Lichtwark (Mike, Nick and Alan) and myself took on the ‘beast of the north east’ along with a record field. In fact, a quick glance at the start line revealed that this would be the best field ever to take on the Full Monty. Michael Adams (wins all the Xterra offroad races), James Kuglar (2nd to Mr Adams often, also came 2nd in the two day coast to coast this year), Dan McKenzie (super strong beach runner) and Thomas Reynolds (NZ rep orienteer) were there, plus a number of faces I recognised from close battles in the past.
The pace was fast from the get go, but we paced ourselves well to keep touch but not over stress it. We were around 12-15th going into the first swim. The water level was a touch lower this year, and not as choppy as last year without the stormy nor easter blowing. Nick, Mike and I closed in on the leaders in the second swim, only to see them scamper off over the rocks away again.
We paced ourselves well, running strong through the rocky mid section. This despite being caught behind the tailenders in the 22k who were released just minutes before we arrived at Long Bay. Mike hustled his way through, while Nick and I got caught amongst the walkers. The brothers L had left me behind at this stage, but I was happy that I was pushing the pace as much as I should for a 3hr race. Come Campbells bay, I could see Nick up ahead again and I was feeling good. Around the corner from Milford, Nick took a sneaky look behind to see how far back I was. He then proceeded to trip and do a (face-first) superman dive across the rocky shore. Very impressive, especially when he stood up revealing only a few minor scratches. Unfortunately for Nick, the real problem was a pulled groin, which had worsened and would ultimately take him out of the race at Takapuna.
Mike Lichtwark was by now out of sight and must have been motoring, because I was feeling strong and was catching plenty of people. I ran the final third from Milford to Devonport faster than ever before and caught 5 or 6 guys in the Full Monty – how great it feels to be the pacman, eating the gremlins at the finish and not being run down like
a dog. I finished up just under 2:54 in eighth place. Mike was stellar, outsprinting another competitor to take fifth place in 2:49. Michael Adams won (no surprise) in record time with Thomas Reynolds staying with him the whole way to finish less than 40s down! Dan Mckenzie showed his strength in taking third off the fast starting James Kuglar.
I must also mention Alan Lichtwark who anchored Team Springfield to a second place in the teams, five minutes behind the first team (who had a lot less years and a low more members) – huge effort Alan.
So, a mega day. An eighth place in previous years may have had me a bit down but I was really pleased with my endurance and it was a thrill to be in such a top-class race. As an indicator, Mike Lich would have been first in last year’s race with that time. Good stuff.