Another Saturday and another early morning alarm call. Although compared to last weekend, the 3:15am beep was a lie-in from the 1:30am from the previous week. Training on the top end of the course means early starts, given the 2 hour drive to reach our destination, checkpoint one.
The plan for today was a sharp out and back from the GNW CP1, through to the gate on the Congewai road, approximately 17kms down, and then head out into the rainforest section for some bush walking fun. The section from CP1 towards 2 is not the prettiest by any stretch of the imagination, and is in relative terms, flat too. There’s a few ups and downs to keep things interesting, but it’s very much foot on the gas here, before a 3km descent down to the valley where the course hits the road.
The usual suspects were present today as five or six merry gentleman made their way along Georges Road ticking over at 5min kms and partaking in the usual banter. There was no shortage of ‘short’ jokes for Gareth ‘Danger’ Parker, along with Chris ‘T-Bull’ Turnbull, who brought his disco surround sound out with him, blasting such classics as ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ by Bonnie Tyler…. “Turnaround, every now and then I get a little bit closer…”
Reaching the gate in a sharpish 1hr 46mins, we turned around for the climb back up the hill, and the joking stopped for 25 minutes or so while we put the game faces on for the slog. I’m not sure what time we came back in, but it was similar and made for a good ‘tempo-ish’ session along that particular firetrail in the world of ultra-running.
After a lightening quick turnaround, a few of us made the trip down to the very technical and slow rain forest section. I hadn’t been down here in about two years, so it was good to re-acquaint myself with the surroundings, especially doing it in reverse. It was here that I decided that some sections were going to be pretty much bush walking territory, so rather trying to push on through at pace it was better just making sure I knew what I was doing and where I was doing it. Here, a few people did their own thing and I was happy just taking in what is a stunning and brutal part of the course.
Admittedly there were plenty of moments where I did have to stop for a few seconds to work out where the hell to go, especially in reverse, but after due consideration the right way was never in doubt. After the last climb back out of the rain forest and up to Heaton Gap (I believe it’s named after the man who discovered the location), I decided to take the road back (approx. 8kms) instead of another slog back through the rainforest. Here I could get the pace back up to something around 5min kms and get some hard running in for the last section.
I pushed fairly hard coming back, knocking off the 8kms in just over 40mins for a final clock-in of around 51kms in six hours. Not a bad day out, and I would have preferred some more kms, but a combination of a hard stop at 2pm to catch England’s next World Cup game and some dinner guests put paid to that – it’s all about choices 🙂
Next week I’m off to Auckland for some Haggis eating before England serve up a roasting to the Scots. That means I’ll have to find a fairly long mid-week run somewhere… decisions… decisions…