In Part 1 of my Wild Turkey Off Road Marathon review, I looked at the event in general and here in Part 2 look at my own race.
There were 13 of us who started the full marathon about 7:40am on Saturday April 6th 2013. Only 12 finished – one of our group apparently had somewhere else to be and bailed out half way around.
The weather report had been for clear skies in the morning with rain and possibly hail in the later afternoon but as it turned out they got the forecast the wrong way around.
It was raining lightly as we set off alongside the Whatipu campground and headed up Gibbons track. There’s a bit of a climb initially so I was happy enough tucked in behind Stacey Chait, walking and slow running. Once it levelled out a bit I passed her and continued on my way.
Marathoners at the start – photo courtesy of Hey That’s Me
It was now that I realised I had my car key and remote in one of my Camelbak pockets, and after an incident at Xterra Shakespear last year didn’t want to take any chances with it getting wet in the rain. I’m sure rain would be OK compared with the sea water last time around, but wasn’t prepared to take any chances.
So I offloaded the lollies I had in a plastic bag into the front pouch in my shorts and put the key and remote away nice and safe in the bag 🙂
By the time I got to the top it was raining reasonably heavily. The tracks on the way down were dry from all the good weather recently and the rain made them very slippery; I love running down hill but was worried about slipping over so was taking things a little more carefully than I normally would.
I stopped under the shelter down at Pararaha Campground to change my top: my Icebreaker shirt was soaking wet and I was cold. I changed into my thermal top and put my rain jacket on over the top. I knew I’d be a bit warm but better than being cold and wet!
The next section has some pretty big climbs so it was slow going for a while until a nice downhill section that you can run down pretty fast if you’re so inclined. I sped past Penny Kirkwood at her aid station, shouting out my race number as I went past (it was obscured under the rain jacket) and kept going until I hit the river at the bottom.
More hill climbing, some great views of Manukau Harbour and Manukau Heads, kids out tramping, take off the raincoat (it stopped raining completely after about two hours), more downhill fun, back and forward across a river and then all of a sudden we were half way around. 2:45 elapsed.
Shane Absolum caught up with me while I was stuffing my face with chips and coke. We’d been passing each other on and off through the race so set off together for the second lap. We both struggled a little up the first section of Gibbons but soon I was running on my own again, leaving Shane behind.
Second lap on Gibbons Track – photo courtesy of Hey That’s Me
The second lap was much like the first, with the added benefit of the tracks now being muddy instead of slippery, so I found it a lot easier to run down the hills faster. I covered the first 7kms of the second lap 5 minutes faster than the first time around (55 minutes compared with 60 the first time) but after that it was all a lot slower. Slower climbs. Slower downhills. I also stopped at Penny’s aid station to top up my Camelbak and have a chat.
With about 7kms to go I was starting to get really hungry, almost to the point of feeling sick. I’d eaten all my lollies in the first few kilometres; had a gel at some point; chips, coke and a biscuit half way around; some more lollies at Penny’s aid station. Now it was time to break out some more chips. I knew they’d be hard to get down so I chomped away and drank a fair bit of water to wash them down, and felt a lot better.
The last few kilometers were a lot of fun. There were more people out tramping now and I passed a few of the tail enders in the half marathon so there were lots of people calling out words of encouragement, including a large group of teenage girls with alpine walking sticks gathered in the middle of the track. They parted and I ran through them as they cheered me on. Good stuff!
I tried to pick the pace up for the final few kilometres downhill and along the river. It didn’t feel like I was running any slower than the first lap at this stage but looking at my splits now I was running around 30 to 60 seconds a kilometer slower.
Looking tired, and just about finished – photo courtesy of Hey That’s Me
Then all of the sudden there was the finish line and it was all over. My goal had been to run it in under 6 hours and I managed to finish in 5:54 so mission accomplished! The first lap took about 2:45 and the second 3:09, so I was a fair bit slower the second time around, but then so was everyone else…
After the run was a (warm) ginger beer from the car and a couple of sausages in bread, smothered in onions, tomato sauce and mustard. There were just shy of 100 participants in total and so many of us knew each other, so it was like a real family atmosphere as we all relaxed in the sun.
Prize giving started before the final few people finished; there were heaps of prizes so you have a good chance of winning something and I came away with an UltraAspire hand held bottle.
As the final finishers came through the finish line they each got showered with a small bottle of Lindauer. A fitting end for a long day at the office 🙂