Thanks to Facebook advertising algorithms I was alerted to the existence of the inaugural Waitomo Trail Run, and I was intrigued to see what a race in and around the caves would be like and I signed up for the 11km race quick smart. Being the first year of the race, no one really knew what to expect but with Paul and Tim of the Tarawera Marathon’s fame behind it you knew you could be assured of something special. A few weeks out the event became a victim of it’s own success with nearly 4 times the predicted entries, resulting in the closing of both the 6 and 11km events. It might have been the anticipation of the stunning scenery, the novelty of underground tunnels, the option to enter as a family or the chance to be the first that drove the high numbers. But I have to think that, given this is the second event I’ve entered this year to sell out, it was the fact I would be there. Yeah right.
These huge numbers meant that last minute, the start of the 6 and 11km races were broken into waves so that we could descend to the depths of the Ruakuri Cave for a pre race photo and make it back out the same day. As a happy side effect of the photo the field was slowly released onto the single track trail rather than the standard crush.
There was a nice mix of pretty technical (read: where did the trail go) bush sections, equalizer hills (everyone walks) and farm crossings to eat up the kilometres. I defiantly found it harder than advertised, and I’m sure that some of the families out there with young kids were second guessing their sanity. Just as I did every time some kid would scream past me, they’re like damn energizer bunnies.
Sure there were some teething issues, it was the first year after all, but I’m sure that they’ll be ironed out for next year making for one pretty awesome event. After seeing peoples photos online and hearing their stories I suffered a bit of LCE (Longer Course Envy), so guess I’ll just have to try a longer distance next year.
Having completed two 11km races two weeks apart a month out from the start of the Xterra series, I’m pretty happy with my progress and decision to step up to the 10-14km mid length. I’m slowly getting faster but the most noticeable improvement is how I feel after a race or even training for that matter. After my first race last year I struggled to move during the following week. Now, I wouldn’t say that I’m ready to turn around and do a victory lap but I’m able to enjoy the beer after and the rest of the day.
So with the Xterra series starting at the end of May with the ever muddy Riverhead race, it is time to get the Zeals broken in as I’m going to need the grip (could have used them a Waitomo).