I ran the Mukamuka Munter last Saturday, along with Erich and Krista. It was a little sketchy as to whether I'd run in the end; I'd had some sort of flu for the week leading up to the race and on Thursday afternoon I found myself out of breath after going up the stairs at work. Friday night I had some pre-race nerves and it seemed a shame to waste them by not running. We needed to get up before six on Saturday morning and I figured that since I couldn't really distinguish between the general misery of waking up early and the pain of being sick so I must be better.
[Photos from Krista.]
The weather was entirely perfect for racing: cold, sunny and no wind. The race involved a couple of river crossings which would have been tricky after rain, and things would have generally been miserably and slippery. I didn't see Erich after the start. I was trying to put my GPS back in my backpack as the race started so I wasn't even particularly sure if he was ahead of me or behind me (but I figured behind.) My strategy was to pick a person who seemed to be doing a decent pace, and to stick with them as long as I could. this worked pretty well for the first 12km --- as far as the mouth of the Mukamuka river valley where I started to flag, and the first person passed me. Going up the river valley I dropped at least half a dozen places and gained none. Despite this, the Mukamuka valley was probably the highlight of the race for me --- bouldry, rough, numerous river crossings and generally a pretty wild and isolated feeling place.
Near the top of the valley, my calves started to cramp and they continued to do so from South Saddle to the Orongorongo valley. From here, the rough terrain was pretty much over. And so were my legs. Somewhere along the final 10km first one thigh, then the other started to cramp. As long as I kept running and taking small, small steps they were mostly okay, but if I tried to stretch out my stride, or even walk (and by this point I knew I could walk faster up the hills than the small steps my running allowed) my thighs would cramp up and I'd topple over --- pretty scary given that it hadn't happened to me running before. Annoying too, since, apart from the cramp, I was feeling good. The last 3km down the sealed road to the finish line, I made in a strange sort of straight-legged waddle. It worked though. I got there without stopping or keeling over or anything. And I was there before Erich, 3hr:41mins, not quite as fast as Steve was last year and well behind the winning time which was a pinch under 3hrs, but fast enough that I was pleased with myself. Erich was about 13 minutes behind me and Krista was a fair bit behind him, though still grinning a whole lot when she finished.