Over Auckland Anniversary weekend I successfully traversed the Tussock in the Icebug Tussock Traverse. This was my longest race thus far at 13km and an ultimately enjoyable experience. As this was out of town and over the long weekend, the call was made to take the families and make a road trip out of it. So with the wife and kids in tow we set out for a house we rented in National Park; us, the Brown family, plus Graham and Ben who were both single for the weekend.
Friday was shoe check (ps: remember to clean your shoes before the Hillary), registration and a three cheese pasta bake with no veges. Plus, of course, a couple of beers since they apparently have carbs too. The race day dawned foggy but warm, so we knew we would be in for a good day. I was a little thrown as I’d left my traditional can creamed rice at home, but I soldiered on. All fuelled up, Dale and Ben jumped on the bus to the 26km start and Graham and I headed off to the Chateau for our start.
Starting out in tall tussock, a stream bed and lovely bit of native bush it was not until about a kilometer in that the vegetation drops away and you are met with awesome views of Ruapehu still with a bit of snow, and in the distance Ngauruhoe with Tongariro peaking (ahh, mountain puns) out from behind. I was pretty happy with the start of the race but I really had to work on not getting carried away and heading out at an unsustainable pace, damn mob mentality. I should point out that one of my goals for my runs are to run as much as I can at a fairly consistent pace, once I do this it will then be to get that consistent pace faster.
The trail is gravel with a few rocky stream beds chucked in to make sure you are paying attention. So my Icebug Animas were the weapon of choice; which from my observations was the same call made by a lot of other runners. I know of a one who committed one of the biggest sins of sport, by buying a new pair the night before to use in the race the next day.
From the turnaround point (approx. 6.5km), I fell into my sustained plodding speed and felt good. I had managed a number of 13km training runs over the break so I was happy with how things were going. But with about 750m to go my legs decided they were done with the last uphill and I was down to what felt like a crawl. It was about then that my spidey sense tingled, alerting me that there was something approaching fast. A black and orange Gene Beveridge shaped blur shot past; damn, I almost finished before any 26km racer, (I didn’t know about their delayed start at this point).
Topped up with R-Line and meat sticks (mmm, meat sticks), I decided to brave the Icebug recovery zone and the ominous looking blue drums of ice. Plunging into the ice cold water was both a great feeling and one of shock as it turned out my legs are just a few inches too short – guys, you will know what I mean. I was saddened to see that my suggestion before the race had been ignored and that there would be no bobbing for beers in the ice bath. If Tim brings his baths to the Hillary, I hope he shows he’s a ‘nicebug’ and has the baths stocked with more than just ice.
I left my CEP socks on as long as I could after the race, which definitely helped prevent the sore legs the following day. I think a pair of CEP recovery socks are on the books, so I don’t offend people with stinky used socks. The ankles took a bit of a pounding, so were sore for a few days. But most worryingly I appear to have aggravated a leap frog injury from a few years ago. Yes, I said leap frog injury. I was playing leap frog with my daughter and landed on the side of my foot and tore a tendon with a small fracture to boot. Hopefully it will clear up as it didn’t seem too bad after a short run this week, but we’ll see after a longer run over the weekend.
As promised I donned a GoPro and took a time-lapse of the race. Bear with me that it might seem a bit long but it is 2 hrs 12 min of running condensed down to 2 min, any quicker and it became a little nauseating. So enjoy.