XTERRA Rotorua 2017 - The Short Course Report

From a racing perspective, most of this week, was about correcting last week's race mistakes...

This time, we arrived in good time. 

This time, we were totally respectful of the bike course.

This time, all we did the day before the race was have a gentle hike in the morning and a brief activation run early evening. 

And finally, this time, we swam the swim course 3 times before the race.

As a result, come race morning, I felt rested, ready and, appropriately inspired thanks to the Maori Haka chant immediately prior to the starter's hooter. 

Rather pleasingly I picked up several pairs of active feet on the swim to draft behind. The net outcome was a respectable (for me) swim & T1 time of just over 17 minutes. Although, please note, I have not become Ben Allen like as another attraction for non fish racers like me of XTERRA Rotorua is a 1km swim course versus the usual 1.5km.

This respectable time still wasn't good enough to be at the head of the snake (The Pro's and top age group athletes exited in just over 10 minutes!). As a result, I was stuck in traffic for the 1st section of trail which was too tight to pass safely & respectfully.

Knowing that there was a long and wide climb & downhill section immediately after this initial section of forest, I stayed patient and prepared to make a big attack as soon as the trail opened up. This is exactly what I did and if had a big impact as I passed most probably 30+ riders over the next 1-2 kilometers.

However, I wasn't as fast as some through the flowing tight forested sections. So, I used these more skillful riders to help me ride the course as well as possible. I did this by, wherever possible, allowing these more skilled speedsters to pass and, as soon as they did, all be it temporarily, mirroring their smoother & faster lines. The consequence of all of this, was a fast and faultless ride of 1 hour 45 minutes that I felt really proud about and incredibly invigorated by.

My goal for the run was to be under 60 minutes after the rather disappointing run I'd had in Phuket the previous week. So I set out at a serious pace but not too serious that I didn't have some extra gas in the tank that I knew I'd need for the 2nd lap. In the process, as I went out on the final loop I caught and passed the two younger runners that had run past me shortly after leaving T2 and continued to catch and pass other runners.

As I exerted the extra effort needed to run the steep incline of steps for the 2nd time my left groin, glute and thigh muscles all simultaneously tightened with worryingly serious twinges of cramp.

Thankfully, whilst I'm no longer prone to cramping up on the run, I've suffered enough in the past, to know that if I didn't back off a bit, it would get worse very quickly and be terminal in terms of my aspirations for my sub 60 minute goal for the run & potentially even worse in terms of the ultimate outcome of my race.

As a result, I marched the remaining steps rather than run them and used the water station to relieve the tightness with a good dosing of cold water. Fortunately, by the time I reached the downhill section of trail, I was able to resume a decent race pace which was good enough to resume passing other runners.

Sadly, I ran out of trail before I could catch Chris Seely who I'd been playing "cat & mouse" from early on in the bike. Chris typifies the strength & depth of age group racers from this part of the world and who I aspire to be like as not only are they super strong, they never stop trying to push themselves to be better & better either. In the process I was very satisfied with my total time of just over 3 hours and 2 minutes and whilst it still wasn't a run where I'm back to my best I still squeezed inside my goal with a time of 59 minutes. 

Finally, for those of you wanting to know if this is a race you should do, the answer to that is an unequivocal "Yes". For more info and insights as to why read the long course version of this blog ;-)


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