Monday, November 25, 2013

The Speight's Gut Buster, I mean Speight's West Coaster

On Saturday I ran the Speight's West Coaster 13km adventure run.  Ooops, I tell a lie - I ran some of it and walked an awful lot of it too!  The first three kilometres were an uphill climb, but that was just the beginning...

Nearing the top of the first climb, but still a long way to go!
Do you want to see what condition I'm in at 2.5km?  Just click play ;)

The race has a total elevation gain of 649m - most of this is in two 230m hill climbs as you can see by the pace/elevation chart below:

You can also see by this chart that I do not excel at uphill running, but I make up for it on the downhills.  This results in a continuous game of leapfrog with the more consistently paced runners out there.  I am sure they got sick of my yo-yo race tactics!

After the first major climb, we passed the drink station at 4km and then out onto Razorback Ridge - an exposed ridgeline track that winded it's way towards the Tasman Sea:

Razorback Ridge
It was hot out there, but worth it for the awesome views:

The view from Razorback Ridge down to event base
See those rocks jutting into the sea?  That's where Steven and Luke went exploring while I ran, and they took this photo with Razorback Ridge in the far distance.

Look carefully and you can see the 6km runners/walkers
 From the end of the ridge we plunged steeply downhill into a valley - I enjoyed this bit and gained on a few people with some risky fancy footwork.  Then we came to a very steep, unrunnable climb.  Even walking up was a struggle, and I stopped halfway with another girl to let my heart have a little rest!  At the top practically everyone stopped for a rest, and walked the next kilometre uphill to the 8km drink station.  For most of us, walking uphill was just as quick as running uphill, and consumed a lot less energy.

Random snap during a much needed breather
After this final big climb the course undulates along the hill top for a while.  I undulated too - running and walking depending on whether we were going up or down.  Eventually I realised we were trending downhill and my spirits lifted - finally I felt like I could get some running action in!

See that grassy meadow in the very first photo?  I took the opportunity to up my pace here and overtook about 5 runners.  I passed a few others in the forest where I somehow reacquired the ability to run uphill (albeit in small doses!)

After passing the course photographer, I suddenly found myself on my own and wondered if I had gone off trail, but the track was fairly obvious so I decided I couldn't have.  I really enjoyed this part which was several downhill switchbacks on a sandy track - it was so soft and you could bound downhill without worrying about falling and hurting yourself - that would have been like landing on a pillow.  Eventually I saw some runners ahead which made me happy because I had gained ground, and it also confirmed I wasn't off course!

We entered the forest for the final kilometre - this is where the 6km event joins our course and I remember this bit from last year, however this year it felt shorter and easier.  It is a sandy track with little traction bar a few pine needles, not really what you want at the end of a race.  But finally it turns into a winding downhill gravel road which you can speed down - as long as you watch that you don't skid on the loose gravel, or trip on the odd rock.  Although I felt like I was sprinting as fast as I could down here, my son managed to capture this shot which looks like I am jogging:

The camera never lies...
I finished in 1:43:20, which was 16/34 in my age group, and 49/108 overall.
I really am the perfect example of a mid-pack runner ;)

I think this was one of the toughest runs I've done, but I never once thought 'why the heck am I doing this' during the race.  There was a great camaraderie amongst the runners, and in some ways the periods of walking helped here as we could chat and laugh a bit together.  I will no doubt do it again next year, and hopefully by then I will have incorporated more hills into my training!

Did you race this weekend?  Tell me about it!


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    1. I've been waiting two days for this race recap!!! ;) So good to hear you enjoyed it, and fantastic result! Nothing wrong with middle of the pack :) Way to go! I'm a little jealous, haven't run since last Tuesday. Thinking of joining the Nike crew on Wednesday night though... You did the Coastal Challenge this year, right? Care to join me for 2014? I'm doing the 17km (sorry, commented as husband, had to change it!)

  2. Look at those views! I'd love to run there, even if it meant some hill walking, too.

  3. Stunning photos! The West Coaster terrifies me as a race but one day I will nail it! GO YOU!


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