On the 12th of December i had the pleasure of competing in the Waiheke Island Trail WC trail blazer off the coast of Auckland, New Zealand.
I was originally entered in the 11k but when i got there i was told that there was more prestige entering the half or full marathon so i decided to take the risk and do the half.
in the back of my mind i did have some thoughts of Hawaii underlying my confidence, however i knew i had done the right training leading up to this race since joining the Run Crew earlier this year.
The race didn’t start until 10 am and it was one of Auckland’s warmest days since 2015, however i made sure i was prepared with my camel pack which contained electrolyte. I will also have to admit that i was quite naive to the difficulty of the course. The start was surrounded by rolling hills however seeing this was my 2nd half marathon ever i didn’t put into perspective the humidity and elevation i would be running over the 21k.
I made sure i went out at a comfortable pace, which i am so glad i did, as the first 6k was mainly up some steep uphill. I could compare it to the Australian mountain running championships in Brisbane as there were some steep sections through the rainforest however Waiheke was mainly trail and less fire trail.
After the first 6k, there was some short downhill and some road before ducking onto some stunning coastal trails with views across the Tasman Sea. Some of the trail went so close to the cliffs edge that if you put a foot wrong, there was a good chance you would fall into the ocean so much focus on the foot work was required. The best thing about this part of the course, was the fact that once you ran to the bottom of the coastal trail, it eased off into a flat beach. There was almost 5k of running up and down the coast and across beaches which was nice.
I did get lost a couple of times which held my time up, but according to course officials, that is what made the race a game changer. I managed to mostly stay on track. Around the 14k mark, i did start to get some bad blistering underneath my foot, so the running started to get quite tough. The race also got warmer and warmer. I was so grateful that i had my camel pack or else there could have been a repeat of Hawaii. Also in the last 5k, there was a very cool rainforest section where you got to run through creeks which was pretty amazing and that cooled my body down.
The last 2k of the half was pretty painful, and it was all about talking to myself and telling myself there was only 2k to go and not to think about the pain i was enduing at this point. My legs were sore, bottom of my souls were in so much pain.. and to put the icing on the cake there was one more mountain to climb which was a mental challenge. When i came back down the other side there was a feeling of jubilation as i knew the finish line was ahead. The last 800m was a struggle but i knew i had won so that kept me going. i saw the organisers and i was so relieved.
I crossed the finish line and was so happy that i had actually finished with no heat stroke. It was probably the most challenging races i have ever competed in but i believe these races make us stronger.
A big thank you to my coaches Benny St Lawrence and Gary Howard for preparing me well for the race and to my sponsors H2COCO, Chief Bar, Tom Tom Global and IceBug for all their support leading up to the race.
It was a nice way to end 2015!!