Erich had been pestering me to enter the Mukamuka Munter run with him and the Wainuiomata Mountain Run, at the start of May was well timed as a warm up (for the originally posted date for Mukamuka). I'd done no real exercise since coming back from Melbourne so I was a bit surprised to come in 6th of the 23 guys in the 12km race, at 1:07:11, six seconds behind Erich.
While we were out for the Wainui run, someone had tucked a flyer, for the Xterra trail running series, under the windscreen wiper on the car. By now, the Mukamuka race had been postponed until late August so I needed something to keep me training in the meantime. The Xterra race locations sounded nice, I'd just enjoyed the uphill part of the Wainui run so I entered the four race series.
The first race was on the hills above Wellington's south coast. The 12km track headed up to the radar dome at the top of Hawkins' hill and then down to the coast at Red Rocks, coming back along the beach.
The run seemed pretty busy --- about 270 entrants in total, and 69 in the 12km male course. This time I didn't bother about trying to pace myself early on and slogged my way up the hill at the start. It seemed to pay off since I finished 10th with a time of 1:05:27. Erich came in 15th with 1:09:12 giving me a lead of 3:45 after two races.
The three minute lead must have been enough to demoralize Erich, because he didn't want to enter the second Xterra race. This one was in the Rimutaka forest park and involved the McKerrow ridge track. It rained pretty heavily until the start of the race, so the track was nice and muddy under foot. The first half of the decent was particularly fun. It followed a tramping track down the hill with plenty of dodgy sections of mud, tree roots, branches and sharp corners. I passed more than one person who slipped down a bank or lost a shoe in the mud (I did check they were okay as I passed). The last part of the descent was a thigh-burningly steep 4wd track straight down a clay slope. Here, the challenge (for me) was to slow enough to stay in control and let my feet keep up with the rest of me which seemed to be in free-fall.
I can't have lost too much time on the downhill, since I managed to come in 5th from the 35 guys running the medium course --- 1:27:51 this time. The guy come came in fourth just managed to pip me on the flat before the finish line. There wasn't much I could do about it either --- my legs were like jelly by this point. I felt a bit better about losing 4th place when I found that the (lanky) guy who snaffled it from me had won the previous race.