NZ Road Relays 2016

Prep
Pre event preps

The NZ Road Relays were held this last Saturday in Rotorua. The course followed the lake circumference clockwise, adding and embellishing upon the famous Marathon loop.

For the 2016 short course, there were six legs of 8.3k, 8.2k, 4.1k, 6.0k, 8.4k and a final 10.3k.
We formed two evenly matched teams and contested the social/corporate division.
MEC Tahi (in order of leg)
Sean, Jake, Connor, Megan, Sean, Connor
MEC Rua (in order of leg)

Michael, James, Michael, Lucy, Myles, Evan

Team Rua ready!
Team Rua ready!

Leg 1

The short course was also contested by the Junior Men and Women, and Masters >60. So after a short burst at the start (all social teams were seeded at the very back), Sean and Michael made their way through the field to sit behind the junior men, who were running ahead in a tight swarm. Michael was briefly ahead of Sean around the 3k mark, but was unable to make a gap and Sean caught up, then took the lead as they went into the final 2k. The first 6k were flat with some small short hills, but the last 2 saw the rural road wind up to gain 130m of elevation. Sean dominated the climb to put team Tahi into the MEC lead and social team lead at the end of leg 1.

Sean 31:37 Michael 31:53

Leg 2

Jake took the reins from Sean and made his way along the steady climb. His legs were beat from a hard run at last weekends Bay to Breakers 12k in Tauranga. James, himself recovering from a broken arm did his best to maintain contact. But in only his second run back from injury, he wasn’t able to keep Jake in his sights and he trailed off in the second half.

Jake 34:44 James 36:49

Changeover at the start of leg 3
Leg 2/3 changeover

Tahi 1:06:21 Rua 1:08:42

Leg 3

Connor got his first taste of the competition on the short third leg. It basically drops runners straight back to lake level, losing all accumulated elevation in a scant 4.1k. So it is fast and hard on the legs. Michael was backing up after leg 1, and despite the hard work less than 40 minutes previous, the legs were ready for speeding downhill. He re-caught a number of the masters and junior teams on his flight downhill.

Downhill time
Downhill time

Connor 14:44 Michael 13:07

Tahi 1:21:05  Rua 1:21:49

Leg 4

Leg 4 was for the femmes. For the 6km lap, the course joins the Rotorua Marathon course in the scenic Hamurana hills. Megan took off with a slight lead, but Lucy put in a PB-equivalent run of to pull ahead for Team Rua. Megan ran strong to limit the gap over the 6k and it was race on!p1060970

Megan 32:12 Lucy 28:48

Tahi 1:53:17 Rua 1:50:37

Leg 5

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The final changeover

The 8.4k fifth leg saw Sean return for a second go. He was head to head with Myles, who started with a headstart, but knew that Sean would be lining him up. Sean paced it to perfection, building into his run and setting the second fastest lap split for the social grade as he took Team Tahi back into the front.

Sean 32:45 Myles 40:02

Tahi 2:26:02 Rua 2:30:39

Leg 6

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Evan bringing it home for Team Rua
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Connor with 2k to go

Sean came into the final transition well ahead, and many would have thought it was game over for Team Rua. But Evan had his game face on, and set about running a new PB for 10k as he did his part to bring the teams even. Connor started strong, but was feeling the leg-shaking effects of his earlier lap and had to gut out a tough finish. And so after three hours of racing, 45km covered, the MEC teams were separated by less than 3 minutes at the finish. A galant effort from all runners and some great times too.

Connor 45:38 Evan 43:49

Tahi 3:11:42 (3rd Social) Rua 3:14:30 (4th Social)

 

Congrats to MEC Team Tahi!

PS Many thanks to Ev for the accommodation!

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Tawharanui Coastal Challenge 2015

Takatu focusTo run like a kid over the rocks and the reef, what a feeling! My love for running these coastal events stems very much from memories of my childhood – scampering around headlands, jumping rock to rock, trying to avoid the tide from splashing my feet. This began for me at Brick Bay, just one bay North of Snells Beach. So the race from Snells – Sandspit – Campbells – Tawharanui – Omaha was really taking me back to the beginning. Would my feet remember?

James Sievers and I took part in the 30k “Full Monty” with Dave and Evan Atkinson opting for the 23k, which began at Campbells Bay. It was a low key start at Snells, with a rather small field lining up. Dave Franks, the RD said that approximately half the field had dropped out due to the postponement from May 9 (due to risk of storm swells).

Ready for your longest run ever James? You betcha
Ready for your longest run ever James? You betcha

The day was perfect though, a bit overcast, with a breeze and some gasps of late Autumn sun making it through. I stuck with my plan of starting conservatively and was very happy to see this still kept me in the top 5 as we made our way past Brick Bay and towards Sandspit. At the point we were picked up by inflatable boats and sped across the opening of the river and around the corner to Buckletons Bay (I think). Although I was disappointed not to get a good proper swim in unlike the North Shore edition, RD Dave explained that as well as being a highly trafficked section of waterway, the river mouth also leads to about 3k of mangrove bashing around the coast. Missing that was a good reason to have a ride!

The course: lots of trees and branches in the water. These were very slippery. The rocks were generally not too slippery (unlike the green slime section of NSCC). The technicality of the rocks peaked in the middle third of the race. However, the rocks are more aesthetically enjoyable than running round the headland at Shakespeare. So all in all: tough and technical but good underfoot and enjoyable.

Leaving Aid Station 1 (Campbells Bay)
Leaving Aid Station 1 (Campbells Bay)

I noticed that I was pulling away from the pack on the beach sections, and still holding my own on the rocks without having to get all breathless and force it. This boded well. I was sitting in 5th position (2 team runners included ahead) when we had a short little swim across an estuary into Baddeley’s Beach. I emerged first from this and ran the beach and short reef section into T1 at Cambells Bay. A quick refuel and another estuary to swim as we left. I again emerged first, having caught another full in the swim. We got into a nice flat rock section and the pace was flowing well. I looked back to see that I had made a decent gap back to second place. That was the last time the racing was tight, and it was only 45 minutes in.

I kept the steady pace along the rocky sections as I made my way toward Christian Bay. As mentioned, these rocks were pretty challenging to negotiate with any speed. Since I had no company and was aiming to protect my calf, I didn’t push it. I kept my steady rhythm and enjoyed the experience – running without pain and in a glorious location. What a blast!

Happy selfie
Happy selfie

After the long-awaited aid station at Tawharanui (17k), we had a final bash along the Kowhai coast. I was getting weary – mainly mentally weary of picking my way through the mass of loose rocks and kelp, so it was welcome relief to finally climb the stairs unto the Takatu peninsula after 20k of technical coastal running. Running some of my favourite trails around the headland, with views to Little Barrier and the sun shining, I was definitely in my happy place.

Still no sign of any competition so I thought I should finish strong but not flog myself, and save a bit for next weekend. I noted how much further the reef around to Omaha Bay was than what I predicted. I pick up the pace for a final tempo along the beach and made my way up to the surf club to finish – first place in the inaugural event! A great feeling.Not fast. Fun.