Xterra Riverhead 2013 Report

Guest post by Brent Kelly

– A Soggy Affair

Awakening in the early hours of Sunday, 9th June it became readily apparent I was in for one very wet 23km slog. I was not disappointed, walking (or should I say wading) the sodden last km from finish line to warm up for the race.

Having previously completed my first ever race at Shakespear a few weeks earlier I decided, as a now highly experienced offroad racer, I needed to up the ante on myself and opt for more competitive strategy for this run. In my first race at Shakespear I had never really run with other people before, let alone in a race environment so it was mainly a learning experience to see if I could keep up, make it to the end, and do so in a half decent time.

So this time I set off at pace with the goal of trying to keep up with the front pack – my highly complicated strategy being to ‘run fast for as long as you can’. My idea was to try to follow the ‘fast guys’ as long as possible & then if I ran out of gas before the finish at least I would know for future races that I couldn’t handle the jandle.

Predictably a couple of those RNZAF boys disappeared around the first corner never to be seen again … as they do … but the rest of the pack wound its way up & up the gravel Barlow road & I surprised myself by managing to stay in touch with most of them.

As the trail took to the bush it became very quickly apparent that this race wasn’t just about speed – but also survival. The downhill technique generally consisted of trying not to break your neck in the slippery mud, while the flats were spent navigating large puddles – some of which could swallow you whole should you make the mistake of stepping into the wrong one.

A surprise nasty hill (race lesson #1: study the maps harder) about 7km in nearly killed me as it proceeded to catch me off guard & relentlessly beat me with a stick. I managed to physically recover during the next offroad section but the whole ordeal dropped me back in the field by a handful of places.

As at Shakespear, I seemed to find myself gaining through the offroad sections – managing to work my up the field a little to eventually set off on my own. For most of the race things seemed to proceed in this fashion as I would pull away in the offroad areas & then be caught back up on the gravel road sections.

I must confess to walking a few of the more nasty hills as the race progressed – I figured there was no point being completely gassed for the next few minutes after the hill compared to the small increase in speed of trying to run-slip your way up those sadistic little stretches (whoever designed this course was an angry little man).

As the race progressed my toes started getting somewhat indignant with my shoes preparing me for the very black 2nd toenail I discovered post race (race lesson #2: buy shoes that fit). I started to gas a bit about 5km out from the finish and had to dig deep as I conceded a place or two – but still managed a dash over the last 500m to the finish & overtake a few people – albeit, in hindsight, from different races.

Riverhead 2013 Superlong was a very tough but outstanding 23km course & I was stoked to finish in 10th place with a time slightly over 2hrs. There were a few MEC representing with Todd & Charles also running – and a few notable absentees – Ron running in the short race with his son & Mike out with an injured calf.

MEC Results:

10th Brent Kelly 2:01:12

43rd Charles Belcher 2:18:10

50th Todd Calkin 2:21:27


158th Oscar King 1:04:55

159th Ron King 1:04:55


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