Thursday, November 14, 2013

Wellington Champs: Hills, sprints and jungles.

A few weeks ago now I made the relatively short hop back over the ditch back to NZ for the Wellington Champs. It was a good excuse to get home and see family and friends, whilst stretching the legs out a bit.

Well. Not sure about stretching out the legs really! It was a bit of a rude reintroduction after a decent break from proper training. Steep, tough Wairarapa farmland terrain, 3 sprints against in form juniors, and a short sharp and tricky middle; certainly left me in no doubt that my legs and brain are off-season!

The long distance certainly gave my poor recovering glutes a good work out - 70 mins of steep farmland, with long thick grass just to slow down the km rates! Not just physical though. Large mistakes were seen in both the men's and women's elite grades, including someone who'll remain nameless running off the map... I managed to take out the win, but had Laura Robertson hot on my heels 2 mins back.

Fences on the map... it may not be IOF guidelines, but courses
like this one are better without fences I think.
The following day saw NZ's first knock out sprint series. The prologue in the metropolis of Ekatahuna was run in driving rain and sleet, leading to some good slipping and sliding around in the parkland towards the finish. Laura and I had a good natured battle throughout the 2nd half of the course, after I caught her up a minute. She was to have the last laugh though...

Chasing down and overtaking Laura in the finish...

...only to be out-muscled on the line!

Conceding defeat and going for the other box. Fail.
Photos: Ning Teahan

The semis and finals were run in 6 person mass starts on the remapped Rathkeale college. After getting horrifically caught up in some not so passable light green, and trying to decapitate myself on some head high vines, I managed squeak in 2s ahead of up and coming junior Kayla Fairbairn to win my semi. However, I have no excuse for the result of the final - well beaten into 2nd by Laura Robertson. Not overly surprised, Laura has been continuously improving the last couple of years and was going to beat me sooner rather than later. Plus, being her coach I know exactly what speed work she did leading up to the races! ;)
Now I have some added motivation for training over summer!

A wicked video of the men's final can be found on youtube.

Semi-final map. Got completely stuck in jungle 2-3 and had to race hard
to make up for lost time.

The final. Got taught a lesson by the student!

The weekend wrapped up with a short and technical middle distance in the native bush of Jim Barr's Farm. Steady and careful was the motto of the day, very good advice...if you were disciplined enough to stick to it! Sarah Gray was one who managed to, pulling out 2nd place (and first NZ resident!). An awesome fun course.

>10 min/kms for the win.

All in all a great, all be it too short, trip back home. Full results here.

It looks like I'll be full on with PhD work, with not much time for structured training until the end of the year now. However I have fitted my trip to San Francisco for the AGU conference to include the Sprint the Golden Gate races. Should be a good little break, and come January it's full on training time again!

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