After a months of good training, I have been looking forward to Xterra like no racing series before. That said, I could not have
had a worse start to the series. I was sick as a dog for race one and missed race two (although was happy to for the christening of my awesome Godson). Waiuku had to be redemption. Last year was an epic battle and the first time I had beaten Milo Robinson, so with fond memories, I rose early to prepare for and epic day. I had been battling a sore throat all week most likely from a plane trip to Australia, however I awoke feeling pretty good, and by the start was in good spirits after good tunes and conversations carpooling with the MEC crew.
It took 15 minutes for my body to remember what a race was. You can go fast and thats ok. Once it remembered I settled into a good rhythm. 30 minutes I realised Monday would be painful as some rather large blisters began to develop but was maintaing a good pace. It was a bizarre race in that no real pack developed around me but people surged back and forth in different sections. It wasn’t my best race ever, there were times I really suffered and had to just hang in there, but inevitably after 5-10 mins of pushing through tough times, I would feel good and made some of the ground I had lost. My main competitors were and old backpack guy who must have been 60 ok maybe not but I did wonder how the heck he was keeping this pace, and a couple of seasoned trailers, who commented as I passed them on the road section, here come the roadies. I mean seriously its like he said, here are the soft guys that only go fast on the road sections, whatever man. Anyway, this group plus a few others changed leads of upto 100 meters throughout the race. At about 14km a marshall told us we were at the 17km mark, luckily by checking my watch I choose not to trust him and conserved energy as the others surged ahead. Down about 100 meters from the group and beginning to be passed by some new super-long competitors, I began to question whether today was my day. But at the next hill I saw them again and had a new surge of energy and pacing my self back within 20 meters on the long straight forestry road. Neck in neck with the new challengers I was closing on old backpack guy and the seasoned trailers. The lake in the middle of the path provided the perfect opportunity to drop the new challengers as I powered straight through the middle, paying for it with lead feeling feet and quickly tiring muscles. But then I remembered, this was my race, it was time for redemption, I had done the kms. So I pushed on. We all knew the finish was close and the pace intensified, mid and long coursers were pushed out of the way if the did not head the call to move over. As we hit the sand the gap stared to close quickly. I had no idea how far to the finish, I was red-lining and after passing old-backpack guy had only one to catch. I could hear the dulscet yet muffled tones of the announcer, yet didn’t know how much longer I could sustain this surge. But the thought of regret spurred me on I pushed again and took the lead, with what was only a few corners to go, I held on and finished a handful of seconds ahead.
It was a satisfying way to finish the race. I don’t think it was my best, I think I have more in me, but at least I have a descent race under the belt and am looking forward to the next in the series.