Well, a pre-race report, ’cause I know I’ll be too tired to write for a week after Hunua.
Important rider – I’m assuming an identical course to last year (unlike our Woodhill briefing)
Weather Outlook: Tāwhirimātea is calling it to be cool(ish) and clear(ish) with a chance of less (ish), MetService about the same.
Trail Outlook: The Hunua patupaiarehe, born of the supplejack of Pukapuka track, have informed me that the clay will be slippery, and roots rooty. Technical shoes or fairy feet will be required.
The Course: 4 very distinct sections.
- A fast rolling valley section below the Upper Mangatawhiri Reservoir, mix of gravel MTB trail, gravel road, dirt, and grass (and a river crossing). 11.3km
- Big climb no.1, an old MTB downhill course. Clay surface, slippery, and sticky, giving way to a firmer but equally slippery dirt/rock towards the top. Main climb 1.6km long at an average of 15.3%, gaining 245m
- Now it gets tough. The Pukapuka Jungle Track is only 5.8km, so how bad can it be I hear you murmur. Well it took me 45min averaging just over 90% of my max HR last year. Not only are you running a tight trail with constant roots and overhanging supplejack vines, but there is also a monster climb in the middle of it: another 1km of uphill averaging 17.3% (maxing over 40% grad). Also there is the risk of going off-trail – the track is not always apparent.
- Monster BOMB downhill on gravel service road, nothing technical, just freefall running. Once down the bottom, scoot across the (Upper Mangatawhiri) dam and another quick downhill to the finish. 3.9km, losing 251m from the end of Pukapuka.
My race pick? It’s the best of the bunch for sure. Strategy? Head out fast, refuel, hold position on the main climb, pick my way to the top of Pukapuka then fang it!!
And here’s a pic – easy eh?