Today I ran the Speight's West Coaster adventure run organised by TotalSport, and it was so much fun! Here I am at the race briefing for the 6k event, paying 100% attention to all important announcements:
We ran straight out to the beach and the first couple of k's were on sand - talk about tough on the legs! S&L followed the walkers for a while and did some official photograhy:
The event was based at Bethell's Beach, one of the windswept west coast beaches around Auckland with dark ironsand. In complete contrast, all the east coast beaches are white sand within the gentle seas of the Hauraki Gulf - you'll see the difference when I do the Coastal Challenge in February!
Within minutes our feet were soaking, as we had to cross this stream:
We climbed up that sand dune in the distance and down it again to another beach. Running down was fun - there was no risk of hurting yourself so I just went for it and passed several runners there! My legs were getting tired by the end of the second beach but I soldiered on, knowing The Big Ascent was coming up and I could walk that if necessary without losing too much ground.
Basically we climbed that hill in the distance, then ran back around the hills in the direction we had come. I walked most of the steep bits, along with most of the runners around me. Once I realised we were on the descent I made the most of it and passed more runners - I am much better at downhills! You have to be quite sure-footed though as the trail was rough in parts. Once I stood on the end of a leaf of flax overhanging the path, which made a nice little tripwire for my other foot and I nearly fell!
We descended around the hill and once on the flat came to the drink station. Just when you think it is all flat to the finish, TotalSport throw in a few surprises - we ran under the one-lane bridge and in the shallow river for a bit, then along a track and through some bush. Exiting the bush I sighed in disbelief and someone behind me said "Bloody hell!" as we looked ahead at the massive sand dune that lay before us. I walked/ran/staggered across half a kilometre of soft sand and it was a relief to finally reach the forest on the other side!
The forest trail was nice, although I walked some of the hills. Soon you could hear the finish line loudspeaker in the distance and that egged me on, and so did some of the faster runners coming through from the longer distance events. The last few hundred metres were downhill and I went for it. There was a guy behind me and I was determined he would not pass me - I risked life and limb on some slippery gravel and I'm pleased to say he didn't get past!
I snapped one of someone else finishing so you can appreciate the downhill forest track as much as I did. If this is you finishing, congratulations!
I'm glad I wore my old shoes!
Speight's were sponsors of the event and were giving away free beer - it was sunny, I was thirsty, how could I not partake even though it was 11:30 in the morning?!
There were also barbequed sausages, and a few sponsor products you could help yourself to - I took some Vitasport electrolyte drink sachets, Jack Links beef jerky, VO2Max and Fitness Life magazines. Inov8 were there with their shoes, and Bodyneed was there giving sports massages to the needy - thanks to all the sponsors for helping the event be so great!
Later we walked down to the beach for more photo opportunites. This was the 'starting chute' for my race - between a couple of sand dunes:
|Surf lifesavers on duty|
|Looking towards the southern end of Bethells Beach|
|L said he was very proud of his Mum, and he wants to give it a go next year - yay!|
I definitely want to give the 13km race a go next year - it has a lot more participants, plus it will be fun to explore some new territory!
Have you done a trail run at the beach before?
If so, tell me about it! And do you have any tips for running on sand? I found it really hard - maybe that is just the excuse I need to buy some trail shoes.....