Race day was an early start and we arrived at Waharau Regional Park race HQ in the Hunua Ranges south east of Auckland. Once the team's gear check, medical and paper work was complete we were ready and waited for the course coordinates.
This year the start was located about a 5 min drive north of race HQ. With maps marked up, bodies fully hydrated and fuelled up all the teams and most of the support crews jumped in their cars and headed to the race start.
The race started without much mucking around and onto the first set of checkpoints. We ran down the coast which unfortunately was not a white sandy beach. It was rocky and difficult to get momentum up especially with 35 teams trying get into good positions. A real wake up for the ankles!
As we headed up into the ranges from the coast the teams started to thin out. This is where the navigation started and teams started to go in all directions trying to find the quickest path to the next checkpoints.
Checkpoint 5 saw us climb to 290m (above sea level) and once through bush crashing and coasteering down a stream. This is where our navigation went a bit wrong. After coasteering down the stream for about 30 min, popping out onto farmland and looking around a bit we could not find checkpoint 6. In fact we and other teams lost a good amount of time looking for it. Eventually Alan and Julia worked out we actually went down the wrong stream and we should have been over the other side of the valley.
Once backtracking up the correct stream Alan magically got us out in the right place at checkpoint 6. Checkpoint 7 was one of the two places on the course we had to completely submerge ourselves in water and swim about 20 metres to the beach. Another ankle testing run/walk along rocks and then to transition 1 to get on the bikes.
Running into transition 1 was a good feeling seeing our support crew with food and water and bikes at the ready - except for Jason’s bike which had a flat tire that had seemed to go unnoticed by the bike mechanics in our support crew. There was about a five minute delay fixing the tire and then out of transition in 19th position.
This was the tough part of the race. A short bike through farmland and then onto Whakatiwai Track which climbs up to 400m above sea level. It was just after midday, there was very little wind and it was hot! And to be fair there was not a lot of biking up this climb - except for Jason who seems to make biking up hills look easy. At this point we could start to feel the pinch.
But what goes up must come down. It was a very cool and fast bike down to transition 2 which was located at race HQ. Again, support crew were there with our gear ready, food and water in hand. Onto the last leg of the race.
We managed to pick up a couple of places on the bike leg so we ran out of transition in good spirits. Up and down some more hills and into a stream for another coasteer and mandatory swim. Out of the stream we had a couple of checkpoint to go and one last hill. Last checkpoint and this is where my legs cramped and I could not move for a couple of minutes. After working through the cramp it was downhill to the finish.
After 8 hours and 20 minutes on the course we came in 12th place, and again the winners of the IT cup. Considering the average build up we had it was a very good result that we are all proud of!