Let’s take a step back, I began this blog to record something interesting. Yes about ‘me’ doing my thing but more towards the journey from average healthy guy to racing to win the prestigious Speight’s Coast to Coast. I’ve promised that by following this blog you will see me win this race, and therefore point proven – it CAN be done, you just have to make the choice(s). I feel like I’ve achieved a lot and am real proud of some of the things I’ve done in the past few years. However getting the cherry on top is trickier than just training right and being motivated as hell. What scares me is that three times I have arrived at the start line to that race utterly convinced I couldn’t have trained better, nor be more prepared. I said it last year: ‘time’ itself is a huge factor in this game. This is the third time I’ve raced the longest day and the first time I have not felt a huge wave of achievement. Competitor and friend: Flavio Vianna and I chatted about it a few nights ago, we are at the stage in our fitness where we know now we can finish it and do a quick time too, we’ve just about covered it on training days! It’s about getting the FASTEST time! Call us greedy but anything less is not as enjoyable as it used to be :-).
Being seeded 2nd gave me some limelight leading into the event.
I wanted to be modest (and still think I was a bit) but in the end I enjoyed playing the game of being the supposed guy to watch out for. Saying anything other than that I was in ‘perfect condition’ was not on the cards, this time it was fun to try and let my competitors worry a little. The media attention helped this. Keep them guessing I reckon.
I got dropped off the front bunch during the Greymouth multisport race on January 17th, the thought of the same being repeated at C2C haunted me right up till race morning.
2.2km run off the beach, all uphill, my watch said we averaged 3:27min/km. A great way to wake you up in the morning. Quick transition to bikes and the front group had formed. Still pitch black from the early morning, the red blinking lights blinding you as you rode behind another cyclist.
The 55km road cycle stage began, in our group was Hamish Fleming, Pete Smallfield, Braden Currie, Sam Clark, Dan Busch, Sam Goodall, Flavio Vianna, JP Donovan, Trevor Voyce, Simon van Rossen and me. (I think I have forgotten one person?)
As the day light broke through the air warmed a little but not much, I was rocking my classic tri top with arm warmers combo and feeling fine. The direction and strength of the wind was not so nice. It made some of the group delay their turns at the front a bit too often. Our time of 1hour 36mins showed the clear extra struggle – 10mins slower than last year.
Another quick transition – rack bike, drop GPS tracker, run back pick it up, slip on running shoes and clip running pack on as running away. I had no idea where to run through the farm as it wasn’t marked great but in front was Braden Currie and Sam Clark so I followed their lead while trying to limit their distance from me. The first river crossing painted the picture for the rest of the run, bloody cold river! Shocking the muscles, the next few minutes after every crossing was clumsy footwork while my stabilising muscles warmed up and worked properly again. I had trained for this but still no good. Trevor Voyce came up behind me while I choked on a thick peanut butter sandwich (bad race food idea), “When you’re ready Sam..”. I swore in my head. Pulled over and let him pass.
Sam Clark was still in sight but Braden had disappeared. I took a far right hand line while Trevor took the centre line up the river. I gained back about 50m. Flavio appeared and passed me. This all within the first 25mins.
This continued. I stuck strictly to my lines up the river and kept Trevor and Flavio well within reach, mostly because of my different lines, I knew they were running faster because they kept getting further away until we went different ways. Hamish Fleming caught up and passed me just before Big Boulders, exchanged friendly words, I slipped back past him while he ate some food later.
By the top section before the final climb to Goat pass, Trevor was still taking very different lines and seemed slower too, Flavio right behind him. I took this chance to make a move and got ahead for the climb to the pass knowing I wanted to get into the compulsory gear check at the hut first.
Now I was back into third place behind Clark and Currie. And I made an effort to really try and shake off the guys behind me.
Arriving at Klondyke at 3hours 10mins, a few minutes faster than last year but well off the front two guys. I felt pretty tired again like last year but knew I could deal with it.
Jumped on the bike, cranked the gears up high and stood up out of the seat to launch myself out of the area fast. Ceeerrrunchkkk! WHAT THE $#@! My chain has slipped off… wait ..that doesn’t look right. Ahhh shit. It is snapped. Only 30m away from transition I yelled back “I need a bike!! Someone get me a bike!!”
Thinking hard in my head… what can do, what should I do… should I run?? Someone yelled that another person was running to get a bike for me. I did all I could think of and gulped down some electrolyte drink, better keep the fluids up! Someone across the road offered me their bike, I said yes!,
and they quickly removed it from the back of their car. I only put on my water bottle and dropped food and forgot electrolyte. Seat height was ok but the pedals… half the size of mine, the cleats definitely wouldn’t fit. I balanced ontop of them and locked the muscles trying not to slip off them.
Control entropy must have been through the roof. Trevor Voyce caught up and passed me. I cranked the speed up to a low 30kmph and passed Trev back. Odd I thought he must be tired, But he soon passed me back. He’ll be easy to catch on the last ride I thought if remained behind him. Then Hamish passed me. I was getting cold now too. The Southern wind was more pronounced. I no longer felt a part of the race. It took a long time to reach the end of that 15km ride.
The run down to the river, I felt awful. I felt I was in a really bad way, not thinking properly, slightly under fed, the cold meat pie didn’t go down well either.
I knew the kayak section would only get colder after previous experiences and opted to put a spray jacket on. Once in the boat I set off. For the first hour my arms felt like thin air. I could not rotate nor produce any power. My hands were numb. My vision was blurry, I was moving slow and I hated my whole situation. I wanted to stop and lay down on the rocks and rest. I made a plan of what I was going to tell everyone about why I pulled out. BUT then I saw Hamish in the distance. Something ticked and I went for him. Soon I warmed up and I had more power in my stroke. I was stoked that I caught him so quick but being a good friend too I was annoyed for him, He is faster than that but unfortunately had gotten really cold.
The rotating in the seat got the better of me quick and soon my arse was agonisingly painful on the left side. No choice other than to stop using my legs and then use my arms/shoulders only.
Then Nathan Fa’avae came flying past near the end of the gorge, we had a quick chat and I struggled to comprehend that we were in the same event. “You’ll catch me on the ride Sam, I just want to beat Buschy!” he yelled over. Yeah I will I thought. I still tried my best not to let him get away.
7kms from the end of the kayak, Dan Busch caught me, I let him go in front but I was not going to let him get away. We finished together.
The transition up out of the boat and to the road was wobbly. Another cold meat pie and this one tasted worse. I was full of fury. “I’m going to pass Dan, then Fa’avae, then Trevor and I will finish third. I will do this”. I took me 30mins to get past Dan. But I was so confident that this last stage – a 70km road cycle to the east coast would be my fastest ever. I kept pushing hard. All the attaching parts to my aero drink bottle snapped, luckily my aerobars were narrow enough to stop it from falling to the road. My heart rate was low, 135bpm. I pushed harder knowing I can handle a hell of a lot more than that but the fatigue in my body wouldn’t allow it. I had to catch Nathan and Trevor! I pushed and pushed and blew up into pieces with about 20kms to go. It wasn’t long until the 10km to go sign appeared. I thought stuff this, I am in a miserable state but it is not miserable enough to be proud of. I stepped really hard on the pedals for the last stint.
There is a photo that lies about me as I ran to the finish line. I look happy. I am not happy. I smiled for the crowd. I have never lost control of my mind so much before, anything remotely near that feeling would be being really drunk, really drunk, I was a complete mess emotionally and physically.
Steve Gurney shook my hand, I just wanted to lay down. And I did. Bad idea, they immediately tried to carry me to the medic tent. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want attention for just being tired. I stood up quickly and congratulated the guys who beat me then searched for a seat and water. I’m am exhausted. It was really tough out there and my day didn’t go to plan like it didn’t for many. I was pretty upset about it. Luckily for me everyone that has backed me for this race are supportive no matter my result. Just two days on I’d nearly forgotten the day already!
Here’s some food stats:
Breakfast: Porridge, banana. (Before 4am)
2km run – Nothing
55km Cycle – 500mls water, 600mls Rline Guava electolye drink, 3X High5 Gels
33km Mtn run – water from stream (unknown amount), 7X High5 gels, 1/8th of a peanut butter sandwich, 1X Em’s power bar.
Klondyke transition – gulped down some Up&Go.
15km cycle – two sips of Rline electrolyte drink and about 200mls water. (somehow dropped banana)
Mt white transition – 1/4 of a cold meat pie, sip of water
72km Kayak – 2.5Litres of Tailwind Raspberry Caffeine drink, water from river, 1X roast potato, 1.5X Ems power bar, 1/2 OSM bar, 4 prunes, 5 serves of Leppin Squeezy gels.
Gorge bridge transition – 1/8th of a meat pie, sip of water.
70km cycle – 3X high5 gels, 750mls of Tailwind Raspberry Caffeine drink, 400ml water.
Finishline – Hots Chips then a massive buffet at Nan’s!
I’m now in Wanaka, having a feet up holiday with friends until Godzone Adventure race. I’m racing with Flavio Vianna, Ailsa Rollinson and Pete Smallfield. We are going to have an awesome time! A huge thanks to our Sponsor: New World St Martins (in Christchurch), they have helped us enormously.