It’s difficult to type as the ferry sways every direction while it scoots across the Cook Strait. For the fourth year in a row the Vanette joins me in this trip to the mainland, this time it is loaded with everything I own. And there is no return trip booked. Of course I am participating in the Coast to Coast multisport race once again hence the annual trip but the primary purpose of this trip is change. Change of job, change of home, change of routine. After nearly Six years I have left my job with the RNZAF.
Here’s a few paragraphs on the time between now and the successful September of China racing:
I obviously returned home on a high. It felt pretty good and whilst I rested from proper training I remained very active still by heading out on the same disciplines for the pure pleasure and recreational side of it. Not long after, I returned briefly to my home town of Wairoa to spend some time with family over Labour weekend. Squeezing in trout fishing with Dad and a challenging 30km run in the Urewera’s including a climb over Manuoha. Check the GIF and Video below.
On return to Auckland I developed a flu/chest infection. That next weekend was the South Head Challenge. I wanted to race and support my local club. But I never should have started. I took off on the third and final stage, a 10km run, in the lead, within 600m I stopped and walked back. I knew I’d over done it. I was suffocating, like breathing through a blocked straw whilst sand paper grated my throat and lungs. From then until the week before Xmas I canned most events and was sick in constant bouts. Still training when I could but that might have prolonged it! But it meant I didn’t lose too much fitness.
Xmas arrived and I was finally cured! Running Goat pass on Boxing Day with the Uncle.
Competing in the 55km Clutha Classic kayak race on the 28th and then drinking with my Airforce mates in Queenstown for the next 6 days to celebrate the New Year. On 3rd Jan, five mates and I ran the Routeburn track. They found it humorous that I suffered while dripping with alcohol sweats.
10th Jan I competed in the Rangitikei River kayak race (52km) coming 2nd to Sam Clark. 20th Jan I had my last day in uniform. The very next day I was on the plane to Wanaka for the Redbull defiance race.
Redbull defiance, I teamed up with Hamish Fleming. You should know this guy already, he’s pretty famous these days, if not read previous posts. We even found ourselves in the Otago Daily Times before the race even started.
Everyone raced in two person teams, and we were in the Elite male category. I was in the middle of a heavy training load for Coast to Coast 2016 and Hamo who is not doing C2C this time round was simply training as he felt suitable (although that guy is pretty quick most of the time regardless).
We still were confident for a good race. My confidence was blown a bit not long after the start gun. First up was a 45km Mountain bike down the west side on Lake Wanaka. Full of steep climbs and decents over spurs, river crossing, hike-a-biking and a strong tail/cross wind. 1km into the start the front group of riders crawled further away while Hamish looked at me with a question mark on his face. I also noticed my main source of water had bounced out of its holder. My legs had very little to give. It was frustrating but as hard I pushed I couldn’t go faster. He pushed me up some of the steeper climbs but by the time we reached the transition area we were 8mins behind the leaders. Now a 12km run over and around rocky mountain by Glendu Bay. I was happy on the flats but the team mate still towed me up the steeper climbs. I knew I was pushing hard because I even struggled on the descents with no sense of co-ordination, not normal for me. At the big abseil we checked in and were allowed a max of 5 neutral minutes to get harness and safety gear on. We sucked it dry and I knocked back food, water and a bit of rest. It was supposed to finish with a 17km kayak to the water front of town but strong winds had it cancelled. We paddled a token 4km across Glendu Bay while two teams rode our wash and I fiercely cramped up in both legs.
To finish the day we now had a 15km run along a lakeside track to town. Soo much running. Once I found a way to exit the boat and get my shoes on while cramping in my arms now too (I don’t usually have this problem!) We took off chasing 2nd place who were only 50meters ahead at this stage. However after towing me all morning Hamish was now cramping in his hamstrings. I was keen to chip along at my pace, my rhythm, But Hamish couldn’t quite keep up and I had no energy to tow. We fought with 2nd place all the way finishing behind them. However due to our clever rest at the abseil our time meant we were still 2nd! Buuuuuuut 28mins behind 1st!
This is a two day event and the local boys at 2bar8 cooked a magnificent chicken pie that night in prep for the next day. First up on day 2: a 20km kayak across the lake and down the Clutha River. We led for a bit but soon realised that sitting behind another boat required little or no effort. We exited in the front group of six teams for a 2km run down the river bank to the Clay bird shoot activity. Leading the field until the last 200m where Dan Jones and Alex Hunt (Leaders of Day 1) passed us. Hamish hit the clay on first shot while I quickly knocked back a red bull drink. Now a 26km Mountain bike with over 1000meters of climb over Mt Criffel. We were back in the lead but soon passed on the first climb by the same boys. Speeding across a paddock the guys in front told us it was the wrong way so we spun around and went back to the last marking to investigate, some 400m away. I decided to ride over an irrigation hose and promptly was thrown to the ground heavily smashing my knee and twisting the jockey wheel guide on my rear derailleur. Gears now clunky but still working… except the lowest gear which would have been nice for the big ascent ahead. Within the hour of constant uphill we were in cloud and the buzzing choppers that had been following us all weekend could now only be heard.
The massive descent which was tricky for me. I had little confidence in this wet terrain, struggling to hold onto the handle bars tight enough and avoid hitting rocks. Olly Shaw and Sam Shaw caught us near the bottom who are both very talented riders (and full suspension bikes!). The Shaw boys were the team we were battling for 2nd place. We exited the transition in Cadrona Valley on our feet heading out for a very steep 30km run. The Shaws got out ahead of us and so did top mixed team, Simone Maier and Marcel Hagener. Hamish advised often to slow down and pace ourselves better, we had a big run ahead. Naturally you want to pass those in front so I had to resist the urge. Near the top of the first mountain (Mt Alpha) we sneaked past the Shaws finally but they dug deep too and stayed with us while we traversed the ridgeline. Mt Alpha was only 10kms into the run, over 1600m high and had taken us 1.5hours to get there. We had a long way to go still. Soon over Mt Roy at 16km in and the descent began. The Shaws decided to smash the downhill (over 6kms!) but we held back and decided to pace better. The never-ending downhill came to an end and now all that remained was 6.5km of flatish track to finish. I felt very comfortable on the flat and happily took off after 2nd place ready to give it all. Within a kilometre we passed them and didn’t look back. Eventually crossing the line, claiming 2nd place. Huge credit to the top mixed team, who I mentioned earlier, Marcel and Simone. They beat us overall too and actually had 2nd place OVERALL but obviously out of our category and a convincing win in theirs. And of course to Dan and Alex who made it clear who were the better team on the weekend with their huge lead of 50mins to us.
Now in the week after I’ve spent it packing bags, driving, massages, cold showers and eating well. A solid mix of attempted recovery in time for C2C and travelling to the South Island. Annnnnnd…. I’ve picked up the chest infection again. More rest required..
One more post on nutrition prior to Coast to Coast to follow soon.