Last weekend saw the last race of the 2016 Xterra Trail Run Series with the Hunua event. I enjoyed my Hunua race last year as it had some awesome single trail. But this year there would be no awesome trail, in fact there would be no trail at all.Unfortunately due to what seemed like a month of solid rain in the ranges the normal trails were impassable. We heard that some of the normally ankle deep streams were now chest height rivers, so for health and safety plus just common sense Plan B was enacted and the alternative courses activated. This meant that a few km’s shaved of each distance and ultimately the Super Long rolled into the Long, and for Mid and Short a purely gravel fire road out and back.
With enough super long events in the bag for the season Graham and Tim opted to smash a quick run on the mid, and Dale tagging out with his wife Olea for her to run the long. Having misjudged the time it would take to reach Hunua (and no one correcting me), we arrived nice and early. This did however land us a plum parking spot and spot on the bean bags under the tent before the rain started, so I’m chalking it up as a win.
The time came for our turn in the rain, Yay!? The alternative course was to be a smidge over 9.5km, little ups and downs for the first 2.5km before an increasing steep climb to the turnaround point, and then it’s just the same in reverse. And as I said all this was on a gravel road, sad face.
I have come to realize that me old mate Lee is quicker at a uphill walk than I am at a uphill run, so he slowly pulled away and at the turn around had maybe a hundred metres on me. Hitting the downhill in front he pulled away, but by putting the greater effect gravity has on me and a slight loss of control to good use I did manage to reel him back in. However the gravel had taken its toll on my knees and they were complaining by making lovely grinding noises, so in the last race of the season Lee held on and beat me. But not before I undoubtedly give a small boy nightmares for years to come about the time he was nearly flattened by a large man sprinting to cross the finish line before him.
Was this the end of the series I was hoping for? Hells no; it was raining, there was no trail, my shorts kept falling down, Lee beat me, my knees hurt, the sausages were raw, the pie was cold, and I was driving so couldn’t drink. Did I have fun? Yep. Will I be back next year? Yep.
So up next on my calendar is what I’m calling an Ultra Half Marathon; the new 23km Tikitapu Trail that is now part of the Tarawera Trail Marathon & 50km event. This race looks like it should be a pile of fun with 63% single trail, 10% off-trail adventure, and only 27% on road – my knees groan in happiness. But being my longest race with the most elevation gain I’ve run it’s surely going to be a bit of a test.