On my three previous runs at Shakespear there was never more than one finisher between me and Mike (Hale), it was the same this year but for one minor difference – our finishing positions had switched. Mike 3 (2010-2012) – Ron 1 (2013).
I knew I was coming into this with the most consistent build up I had for any Xterra, the other hand it was my least favorite of the courses. Also thought I’d throw some new stuff into this year’s edition: new shoe choice, and a new nutrition/hydration approach to the race. I opted for the TrailRoc 245’s over the X-Talons figuring the course was dominated by the slippery rocks rather than slippery mud. I don’t like coastal rocks at all, and in previous editions my feet come out pretty banged up. This year felt much more confident and comfy in the shoes and feet didn’t suffer at all, not that I ran the coast section any quicker (but that could have been due to the new swim sections introduced by the higher tide).
I’ve always done the Xterra’s in a self sufficient capacity, am happy to give Total Sport all the encouragement they need to remove aid stations from the course (seeing the number of plastic cups discarded on course makes me a bit distressed). Rather than carry any food/drink this year, thought I’d try it dry, nothing to be consumed till I’d finished. Am quite used to doing 2hr training without so figured I ought to be good in a race without. And so it was. I often get a dry mouth when racing, but figure it is more a bodily (dis)stress thing than dehydration. In fact I finished stronger this year than any other Xterra I recall – largely due in part to the training, but good to know energy/hydration aren’t limiting at this distance/season.
The race approach was pretty much standard for an Xterra, start as hard as I could without blowing up, take small gains on the down hills and suck it up where I wasn’t feeling so strong. The first bit out to the coast hurt like a #>:[!! and typically I didn’t really notice how many drifted off the front thought is was four or so. Was soon surrounded by a small group on the coastal rocks. How small, I couldn’t say, I never looked behind me (partly in fear of tumbling on the rocks, though I expected Mike to be in there), three guys came past at one point or another. And all but one had drifted back by the time we came off the coast, Chris (Wharam – nice to meet you Chris) was right with me on the final section and we exchanged place by no more than a few metres numerous times.
For the first time any any of the Shakespear’s I managed to run the big hill out of the event carpark for the final loop and kept up a good intensity for this hilly section. In fact coming into the finish I felt like the run was a little short on duration, normally pace is kept up by major ramp ups in suffering, this year I even would have felt a bit sad to finish so early if it weren’t for the fact that the plan was to keep on running and catch the family who were doing the short course. In hindsight I should have either run the last km rather more quickly or at least glanced over my shoulder as Chris sprinted past me in the chute to grab a deserved 3rd place. Ah well, at that point I thought I was in 5th or 6th overall anyway so 4th is good.
Did manage finally to catch the family on the short course running with Oscar for about half of the way (caught him in the bush section at the bottom of the first climb on the Super-Long course, that hill was no more pleasant the third time around). Good to see Violet and her friend Evie up about 500m on us, and the mums about 750m back. I cut off at the carpark to watch them finish and they came in as I left them, preceded by the Bowie boys and Lundkvist girls also of Glendowie. Fantastic to see families in the neighbourhood getting into it. Might be timely to get a Glendowie recon group out to Riverhead before the next event…