Xterra Waharau 2016

The 2016 Xterra Waharau was held on the final day of the track competition at the Rio Olympics, so I took out the iPad and we were able to both compete and take in Nick Willis second Olympic medal in the 1500m and Mo Farah’s repeat 5000m gold.
A magic day, clear and dry: there hadn’t been much rain in the lead up either so there wasn’t much mud except at the top ridge. The start and finish had moved back towards the road this year, which added a good 1k to the total distance.
This was to be my only Xterra race of the 2016 season – my other planned option at Xterra Waihi not being possible this year due to my roster. So I wanted to have a good hard race, and felt confident that I was in even better shape than last year, so had every chance of delivering.

Warming up on Puriri Grove Track

We took off fast into the climb and I pushed a little harder this year. Still, these climbs are like none on the city cones that we train on. Waharau hills are steeper and much much longer. So I found myself sitting in around 10th place, despite the extra effort.

Again, I found the downhills easy and would catch up without effort on the two patches of drop in the 9k stretch to the top of Auckland at Kohukohunui. But the last stretch of the climb – the most rugged and steep, saw me lose some time and a couple of guys caught me and I was sure I could hear more voices coming up behind. So it was a welcome relief to get back into the downhill, and I made an effort to run strong on the regular ups that punctuated the fall. I caught the two chaps again, plus a couple of others who had let me on the climbs.

You rejoin the other races on the Waharau Ridge Track. It was here that I saw another SL runner tying his shoes. Turns out he was Felix Geller, a speedster on both trail and road. All I knew was that there was now another target and so I shadowed him down the trail. We let rip down the big drops, notching some low 3:20 min/kms. I wasn’t fast enough to pass, but could maintain contact and we hooned it all the way down to the river, where we also caught and other SL runner. I charged through the river and blasted back up the hill trying to get a break from them both. Heart rate through the roof, my right hip flexors started to cramp up too. I had reached the limit, and backed off as Felix speed by. He was off, and not to be caught by me, so it was damage control on the last mile to the finish on Puriri Grove Track. I pushed as much as I could, and was grateful that the other chap was not in view behind. I finished exhausted in 2:16, 10th place.

2016 vs 2015?

Bit quicker up the hill (45 sec faster to the top, if you take out the extra bit at the start)

Equivalent on the first downhill

Faster on the Waharau Ridge Track downhill

Slower on the last km

Seconds faster overall, but further back the field.

Both years run at my limit and well executed.
MEC Results

Mid course:

Lucy Horne 1:20:33

Super Long Course:

Michael Hale 2:16:04

Sean Falconer 2:20:16

Connor Aldridge 2:39:35

Luke Strom 3:06:24


NZ Road Relays 2016

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

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

Evan bringing it home for Team Rua
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!

MEC 10 Miler 2012 Report

The second Maungakiekie Endurance Club 10 Mile was recently held at the Nikau Cave Cafe in Waikaretu. It was a classic Autumn event – cool and still, with a heavy fog adding to the atmosphere. A hardy crew of runners and walkers had made the drive south.

Although not able to race due to a bit of calf trouble, I kept my mind happy by organizing timing on the day. Richard Drake (who first came up with the idea) had done a superb job of course marking.

The event is an out and back along Waikaretu Valley Road. The road follows the course of a small river with a few gentle hills, then after five km climbs steadily upward to the turn around. It has a rough seal, little traffic and plenty of great views making it ideal for this kind of event.

The merry eventers were set off just after 10 am. There were a mix of MEC regulars, some local Waikaretueans and one large extended family group. Along the beautiful course they were all pleasantly surprised with a family-organised drinks stop at 4km.

How could you refuse a drink from these guys?After the completion of the event, folks were able to enjoy to a hot shower and some good old homestyle cooking from the Nikau Cave Cafe.

So how did it go?

Well, in the 10k walk we had the speedy pair of Anne and Lucy Horne take off. They were first home in 1:34:43.The best rehab for an ACL repair for sure Bec Horne and Janie Rich upgraded their 10k walk to include some good running and finished strong in 1:22:41. Chris Horne did his own thing, coming home in 57:32 after walking an unknown distance. 

Jenny Hale, Natalie and Murray Stephenson walked as a team and were over the line in 1:48:48.

The 10k run served up some sweet surprises. Richard Drake, feeling a bit worse for wear changed from the imperial mile to the metric kilometer and ended up taking out his local event in 45 plus change. After staying with Richard, Trav Reynolds got a bit weary and found Chris Horne to be a perfect recovery buddy. Trav was a starter (and finisher!)  in last year’s edition as well.

He started up his running engines just in time, before was almost mown down at the finish. His 54:22 narrowly held out a fast finishing Stuart Hale who crossed the line in 54:23.

In the full distance, Myles Robinson and Todd Calkin traded places at the front on the way out, both reaching the halfway point in 36:50.

Myles was able to pull ahead on the descent following the turn and crossed in 1:11:14.

Ben Horne raced it well to work his way into second after a wicked-fast descent also. Todd was able to work back into second on the flatter sections and finished in 1:12:45, with Ben next in 1:14:42. 

The ‘local lads’ of Richard Lang and Andrew Woodward looked to be having a good old chat out on their run. THey ran the whole thing together and finished up in 1:18:05.

The Warkworth teachers track club – Vern Dempster and Ian McHale also ran together and  easily took out the Masters section with their time of 1:27:36.

It was a great day, with many smiles at the finish and a few requests for a rematch. Big thanks to the Woodwards and Rich and Nicola Drake for the support and organization at the venue. We will be back.