Been lucky enough to run the Tarawera Ultra 100km for the fourth year. Each year has been pretty eventful, broke a toe in the 2012 edition, had some good bush time with gastro distress in the fire hardened 2013 edition, and faded gracefully in the 2014 cyclone shortened one. So I was rather keen for this standard course to go without incident.
Training wasn’t radically different to previous years, though it did start (and finish) rather earlier largely due to my entry into the Northburn 100 miler that was subsequently cancelled for 2015. A Hillary route run was the only significant off-road run in the whole build up. Everything else was city based, so hills and technical stuff were lacking a bit. I did run a bit in the heat of the day figuring it might provide a bit of adaptation if race day was to heat up (mostly they made me feel ill till evening).
With a bit of TUM experience I believed I could get the twin goals of a sub 11hr and a strong finish on the Kawerau course. Unfortunately though the family support crew were double booked and spent the weekend camping up north. Taking a totally selfish perspective, Mike’s pre-race injury was also a bummer, no pace-matched running buddy/competitor to whip things up. Previous pacer Pete was also out so it looked like if the day went to plan it’d be a bit lonely. Something of a paradox given it was the biggest turnout of MEC ever (had a bit of FOMO not running in the MEC bunch at the start).
The actual plan on the day was simple, a confident, solid start, gradually destroy the climbing/descending legs, and suck it up for a super-cruise finish over the last 20km. Execution was a bit wobbly at the start, feeling good I went a bit too fast, some 10-15min ahead of schedule at 20km. Eased off after this, still feeling great, but think I made the only truly daft move of the day in following some fast 60km descenders down the big drop to Okataina which trashed my downhill legs.
Despite the heat acclimatisation training I also suffered on the Falls to Titoki and Awaroa sections struggling to keep cool. Liquid was used in equal doses internally and externally. The nutrition plan was a good match for the conditions, fruit and chips at the aid stations, and Leppin gel flasks, with lots of water and Heed on the course. Aid stations were fantastic as always, and drop bags (in lieu of a support crew) were mostly found without much fuss.
Pretty much ran in isolation from Humphrey’s as I slipped the bunch I was in at the aid station, looking at official splits I mostly much held my place all the way from the early legs. Though I paid in spades for that early silly/fun descending, coming down to the Falls and the Loop of Despair at a slower pace than the flat. The final easy 18km went to plan, cruising just sub-seizure speed to finish in 10:57:07 (net), despite getting stuck for a couple of minutes with cramp trying to climb that sandbank.
Happy times indeed, and you know what? While I don’t think I want to aim to run it any faster, that 160km event goal doesn’t look quite so frightening now.