Diary of a hairy legged multisport racer

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Speed Bump!

Just when my motivation returns....Typical! Had a bit of a moment on the Mountain Bike last week. Rounded a steep corner (On Smasher for those in Nelson) and over corrected on the exit. In the heat of the moment I unclipped and put my foot down awkwardly rolling it in the process. So a week later the x-ray has revealed a small avulsion tear/ fracture of the lateral maleolus (ankle bone in layman terms). 4 weeks in this super comfortable boot should see me right.

But there is a silver lining..... The next 4 weeks will include more paddling, weights and swimming than usual. Its a chance not only to get more focus into these areas but get organised for local races ahead that get me ready for Wulong Quest in September, yet another intense stage race. Above all though its about following Physio orders and keeping off the foot as much as possible. Piece of cake right?

Alpine Lodge Loop the Lake 2016

After taking a few months of light duties for mental as opposed to physical recovery I've been feeling more motivated than ever. Keen not to repeat mistakes of old however I've made a conscious decision to get back into things gradually. When the opportunity to do a running race around Lake Rotoiti it was a chance to enjoy a running race for what it is. No concerns for what multisport race is ahead, how training will be affected, or can I go 100%. Just go out there, run hard and enjoy the day.

So with no specific race prep and a build up based on old memories I took to the start line with very open expectations. At the start people asked my predictions for the race. My answer: I see it being a race of two halves. I'll go out like I'm 100% fit and most likely wing the first half. The second half will expose large holes in my fitness leaving me at the mercy of the trail. The chances of a grovel over the final kilometers is high!

And what happened wasn't too far off. I started off in the lead group for 3-4km but with no speed training, 5 guys slipped off ahead on the first climb up the Mt Robert road. I didn't expect to see them again. To my surprise however the start of the trail saw plenty of good technical running, my favourite. Slowly but surely I found my stride in the rooty, rocky terrain and started reeling in the runners ahead. Half way to the Southern end I was in 2nd with 1st well out of sight. By the Travers river crossing I was on the heels of Chris Dunell but definitely not hot. With a bit of a spook he surged away and my response was limited.

My lack of training was opening up as predicted. Despite this I kept a decent pace for the next 30 minutes and kept within a minute of Chris who was running well. This would end with 2 K's remaining and I heard the fateful sound of breathing behind me. Dave Keenand and Andre Bonny ran past like I was standing still leaving me to grovel over the line in 4th.

Despite a less than ideal finish I was really happy with my run. Six months of light duties and the hunger to race has returned. Its a good sign.


Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Athlete Burnout and the art of saying No

The topic of burnout is all too common these days. Most often we hear about it in the workplace - long hours, plenty of stress, 5/8 x stuff all sleep are all guilty ingredients for this modern day ailment. Back in my grandfathers day burn out was most likely a close cousin of burn off, the act of burning scrub to start a farm. A confession of burning out would have most likely sent him to the creek with a bucket to dump over the likely candidates head. Problem solved. Now harden up and get back to work...

Athlete burnout is fairly topical for me at the moment. I've called it "taking a break from racing" but burn out gives a more accurate idea as to why.

Why do athletes burn out? Its very simple - by doing to much.

How do they reach that point? Usually by a series of decisions over a period of time that lead to them managing excessive "total workloads" (work + life + training). Although many will beg to differ, I see myself as a semi intelligent type of guy capable of making well informed decisions yet when I look back over the last few years there are several key decisions I've duffed all resulting in a decrease in performance. The reason for this is that I managed to seal off the "No" pathway in my brain. Decisions in general are heavily weighted by emotions and athletes are easy prey for the repetitive cycle of saying yes. After all we enjoy the suffering, we enjoy defeating others and above all we enjoy the satisfaction that comes with improvement. How can you say no to that? I can always fit another race into my schedule....Right??

The best case study I can use for burn out and how it graduates is my own experiences from the last few years. What follows is a simple look at my significant scheduled races from the last 7 years and how my performances went (less emphasis of placings, more on perceived strength). In Italics are a few significant lifestyle factors that impacted sleep and recovery patterns.

Feb: Coast to Coast, 2nd. Trained well, felt strong.

Feb: Coast to Coast, 6th. Felt over trained, lacked strength.
April: Baise Outdoor Quest China 3 day stage race. 7th. Last minute decision. Not conditioned but felt strong.
June: Started Business. 
Nov: Lake to Lighthouse. Trained well, finished 2nd, Felt strong.
Dec: Abu Dhabi 5 day stage race. 4th. Last minute call up, felt strong.

March: Kaiteriteri multisport race (KBAR) 2nd. Trained well, felt strong.
April: Baise Outdoor Quest China 3 day stage race. 1st. Last minute call up. Not conditioned but felt fresh and strong.
Sept: Wulong Quest China 3 day stage race. 1st. Planned. Well trained and felt strong.
Nov: Anaconda Augusta multisport race. 4th. Trained well, felt strong.- 2 week gap -
 Lake to lighthouse. 2nd. No specific training due to Anaconda race. Felt strong.

2012 -
Feb: Coast to Coast team, 2nd. Late call up, felt strong.
Feb: Patagonia Expedition race, 1st, Limited prep, felt pretty good considering 1st expedition length race.
Mar: KBAR, 1st. Felt pretty good considering 2weeks after Patagonia.
April: Godzone Adventure race, 1st. Felt strong for most of race.
June: 3D Rotorua, 4th. Lacked speed but generally felt strong.
July: 1st baby born. Expanded business, signed for twice the lease cf startup. Building works July-Nov. 
August: Ordos adventure challenge 5 day stage race, 1st. Trained well. Felt strong for most of race.
Sept: Adventure racing world champs France 5.5days, 1st. Well prepared, felt strong for much of race with 36hrs of suffering/ melt down.
Oct: Wulong Quest China 3 day stage race, 6th. Definitely not recovered after France. Still harboring stomach bug, felt weak and slow.
Nov: Lake to Lighthouse. 3rd. Poorly prepared, felt weak and slow. Very happy to finish and move on.

2013 -
Feb: Coast to Coast longest day. 5th. Felt strong and well prepared.
Mar: Godzone adventure race. 1st. Felt under prepared and carrying fatigue. Strong enough but not 100% by any stretch.
Apr: Wenzhou 2 man, 4day stage race. 2nd. Intense race. Carrying fatigue and not fully recovered but generally felt strong.
June: 3D Rotorua, 3rd. Felt strong and recovered but not fast.
August: Ecomotion Brazil expedition race. 2nd. Felt fatigued and lacking in strength for much of race.
November: Queen Charlotte Classic, 1st. First time in months feeling strong and in control.
December: ARWC Costa Rica, DNF. Felt strong initially but broke down after 48 hours for 48hrs. Eventually succumbed to foot rot. Worst racing period ever.

2014 -
Feb: Coast to Coast longest day. Not well prepared due to Costa Rica, Weak start but finished strong.
Apr: Wenzhou 4 day stage race China, 2nd. Felt strong for most of race.
June: Rotorua 3D, 2nd. Felt strong and well prepared.
July: 2nd baby born.
August: Wulong Quest China 3 day stage race, 3rd. Well prepared. Felt strong for most of race.

2015 -
Feb: Coast to Coast longest day, 3rd. Well prepared but didn't feel strong for most of day. Happy to beat Nathan Fa'avae as he really wanted 3rd - probably more important to him than fastest paddle split.
May: Hutt City Crazyman, 1st. Well prepared and felt strong despite mechanical issues.
June: 3D Rotorua. 1st. Well prepared. Felt strong.
Sept: Wulong Quest China. 3rd. Generally strong but only 80% on stage 2. Hard to pinpoint why.

Oct 2015-March 2016 - No races planned or completed.

Making Sense of it all:
So looking back at a glance a typical bell curve springs to mind. Easy beginnings with passion for more racing, An overly stacked 2012-13, followed by a lighter 2014-15 craving for less. 2012 and 2013 were both excessively packed with intense racing. Both these years had expedition races in the mix and in both of them I added shorter intense races inside the sensible recovery period. Couple this with lifestyle factors such as running a business, family etc and recovery becomes significantly compromised. These lifestyle factors are often overlooked or played down as to their impact on abilities to train and race. My downfall as seen above was a rigid approach to exercise, taking on more lifestyle challenges with no corresponding decrease in training load. Something has to give. Any elite athlete will testify that recovery is key. The challenge for those with work and family commitments is all down to balance. Less is more.
NB - Following advice from Nathan Fa'avae late in 2013 I cut 30% off my training load in 2014-15. 2015 to date was the strongest I've felt racing as an individual averaging 12-15hrs/wk vs 18-22 in the 2 years prior.

The nuts and bolts
Its easy to think you aren't in this category or your schedule is already realistic. Its easy to fall into the trap of making life (including training) a little bit busier each year. Its only one extra race. Its only one extra weekend away. Its only one extra training schedule. Before long schedules escalate and it becomes a game of ticks and crosses. Tick one off, move on to the next challenge. If I had looked at my completed schedule in 2012-13 back in 2009 I would never have let it happen....yet it did.

If I had my time again these are the points I'd consider:

1. Write down a planned yearly schedule and look at it with critical eyes. If you think its too much it probably is.
2. Always factor lifestyle factors (work hours, family commitments etc) into training and racing schedules. Any drain on energy/ recovery will affect performance.
3. Be wary mixing codes. Mixing expedition races, stage races and multi-sport is tough to do well.
4. If someone questions your schedule - they most likely have a point.
5. Plan an off season and place more importance on using it wisely than any pre-race build up. If you plan 2 months off racing, take 2 months off racing. Don't fill it with every activity you can find. Being able to do nothing is a skill - practice makes perfect.
6. If none of the above make sense then think back to when you only did one race per year. You most likely raced it like you wanted to tear it to pieces cherishing every moment, finishing wanting more. One annual race isn't ideal either but it provides a good yard stick to how we want to mentally approach every race.

Most good athletes are great at saying yes. Its natural to take on more workload, to suffer like a dog and come up smiling, to live life at full speed all the time. The clever athlete knows when to suffer, when to live life at full speed and when to pull back. Its all about balance.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Wulong Quest 2015 - More fun & games than you could shake a stick at...

Prologue: Open expectations….

I can’t say the prologue is my favourite section of Wulong. Plenty of frantic chaos combined with typically average weather doesn’t exactly appeal. I’m much more at home once the main stages begin and there’s less chaos.
This year the prologue had been lengthened by about 30minutes and was a different course. Following a lengthy opening ceremony in heavy rain the racing kicked off with a 7km run. It was a tough welcome to racing in China with several teams hot off the gun and the pace frantic. We chose to do our own thing and soon settled into position in about 5th spot.
Next up was the bamboo chair carry. A must have component of the prologue and a great way to quickly tire us out. Rich took the brunt at the front while Stu & I took a side each at the back (Elina on top). Sucking up the awkwardness we made good ground and overtook a fast running Chinese team into 3rd. A quick run saw us at the biathlon where the 4 of us shared 2 bikes for 3.2km. Two run and two bike, swapping over until the allotted distance is covered.
I paired with Elina running initially while the boys took the bikes. Tactics make a big difference in the biathlon and slowly but surely ours paid dividends. By the end of the section we had levelled with Thule (with Sam Clark, Jacob Roberts of NZ) overtaking them in transition. 8km of mountain biking remained. Mud, puddles, and slippery rocks made for a challenging time especially given our choice to ride with running shoes. Thule having chosen to change shoes quickly overtook us and established a small lead but didn’t extend it.
Torpedo 7 however (Sam Manson, Marcel Hagener, Hamish Flemming & Simone Maer) were making good ground behind us and pushed us right to the line.
So good close racing without incident. Can’t ask for anything more really. We were 2nd by 12secs and a handful of seconds in front of Torpedo 7. With such a strong field I was stoked to find that we could keep up!

Stage 1: Climb, climb, and climb…
Course (roughly by memory): 2km run, 9km paddle, 4km run, 8km biathlon, 32km Mtb, 6km run, 11km orienteering.
On paper this stage looked brutal. In practice it was brutal. The result was a good one for us but I definitely burnt a few matches I couldn’t replace on stage 2.
From a mass start in Wulong town the course took us down to the river and a busy transition into the boats. Despite recent rain the river was low with plenty of waves and the usual boils trying to throw you off course. Unscathed and in the lead pack we headed off on a testing uphill 4km hill slog to the start of the biathlon. Slippery steps and no respite in the terrain kept us on the limit until we topped out some 700m vertical later hanging in there with Torpedo 7 who were setting the early pace.
I again teamed with Elina on the Biathlon which took us undulating for 8km high above the river finishing with an uphill grunt into the Mtb transition. We’d lost some spots on the biathlon this time but weren’t too far behind. Thule had shot off up the road closely followed by Torpedo 7. We got onto the bikes and quickly set about business as usual. I’m not 100% on the details of the ride but there was plenty of action and team shuffling going on making for good racing. I know we were caught and overtaken by team NZ adventure (Dougal Allan, Jess Simpson, Glen Currie & Jared Kohlar) but soon passed them with a puncture. We were also caught by Raw adventure (French-Aussie combo) but managed to latch onto the back of them. At one point I remember just hanging on the back of Raw adventure and being concerned at how hard I was working (towing at the time). Luckily that passed and I had what for me was a really good ride helping Stu who was having a tough day and keeping us in touch.
In a quick chain of events late in the ride we not only caught and passed a slowing Torpedo 7 but found Thule at an intersection confused after some ambiguous trail marking. We were back in touch and remained just behind Thule into a very timely transition.
After such a tough ride I suffered like a dog for sections of the next 6km run to the orienteering but as a team we suffered intrinsically each vowing to stay with Thule. The orienteering was 5 check points with GPS coordinates. All bar 1 were pretty straight forward but between Rich & Stu at the helm we made some ground on Thule and crossed the line First. I never saw that coming!
It had been a day of relentless climbing and I was spent. Knackered and feeling the effects of climbing from 300 to 2100m we thought about how we’d all fair up tomorrow. Great day though and a very satisfying result.

Stage 2: Hanging in there
Course: 1km swim, 31km Mountain bike, 15km Gorge run?, 16km paddle, 4km run with cave.

I know swimming isn’t my strongest discipline by any stretch but it didn’t really sink in until after about 200m. I looked up and disappointingly the flag we needed to swim around didn’t look any closer. Mild panic ensued. I yelled at Stu several times trying to alert him that I was falling behind but he was off in the zone. It wasn’t until I looked left that I laid eyes on Elina being towed by Rich. With Elina a non-swimmer this was the best way of getting her through and seeing that I could comfortably keep up with them was a welcome wave of calm.
Exiting the swim was a combination of relief and a harsh feeling that today was going to involve lots of suffering. There’s suffering when you’re strong and there’s suffering when you’re weak. I had a feeling this was going to be the latter. But what can you do? So the optimist in me self-talked that better times were ahead. Unfortunately that would be a while away. I knew this ride. Like most rides in Wulong it would have over 1000m of climbing with little respite. After not feeling 100% on stage 1 Stu was going great and took the reins towing Elina for much of the climb. Knowing I wasn’t on form Rich sat behind me for much of the climb. It’s a great way to ensure I don’t drop off behind and slow the team down even if it sucks at the time!
Initially we made good time up the hill but a combination of tiredness & Stu’s free hub seizing up caused a slight drop in pace allowing Thule, Torpedo 7, Raw Adventure & Team NZ Adventure to extend the 3min gap they had from the swim. Torpedo 7 went into the canyon run 7 mins ahead and going strong.
Into the canyon ourselves it was quickly apparent the there was significantly more water than normal making for pushy flow and murky water. With several 2-4m rock jumps it’s ideal to see where you are jumping, but not today. In faith we leapt. The canyon was an exciting part of the day and I certainly improved as we went through but my legs simply had no energy requiring more concentration than usual to run the rocks.
So if our day wasn’t already challenging enough 2 x 6-8m abseils in the canyon created a bottleneck backing up 2-3 teams at a time. By the time we got through we’d been waiting at the top idle for 10 mins. Advantage definitely favours the leaders. That said we were moving consistently and kept Raw adventure in sight catching them as the gorge concluded.
Now for a paddle. With legs like mine I was actually looking forward to getting into the boat….or could I? Raw adventures presence added a hint of frantic to the transition. Having launched Rich & Elina Stu & I had to swim to a boat that wasn’t full of water, scramble onto a slippery rock then get into our boat. To make it a little harder Raw adventure had launched just in front making a turbulent few minutes as we paddled up to Rich & Elina. Raw Adventure initially sat on our wash and I thought we may drag them through the whole 16km but we were paddling well, dropping them after 20 minutes. Ah, now we can concentrate on our own race again!

We all felt pretty good in the boats so the paddle went by without too much suffering. Finishing the day we completed a trademark Wulong finish. 150-200m vertical of steps then a loop of a tourist cave. For me and my empty legs it was again time to hang tough. Rich & Stu did a great job keeping Elina moving well.
Finishing the stage was a mixture of relief and disappointment. Significant time had been lost to Torpedo 7 (the days winners) and Thule (20mins + to Torpedo7) most of it in the gorge but steadily all day. Now out of the running for top spot overall tomorrow would be about defending 3rd overall. 13 minutes behind overall was Raw adventure and they would be laying down the challenge.

Stage 3, defending 3rd
Course: 31km Mtb, 14km run, 7km paddle, 6km run
Day 3 is always greeted with mixed emotions. Battle weary bodies look forward to the end of a tough few days but generally there’s unfinished business to deal with. Either you’re defending a position from a fighting opponent or you’re attacking to gain the spot above. I’d love to have a steady final stage but the reality is it’ll never happen!
So I don’t think anyone was particularly disappointed when today’s initial cave section was cancelled due to high water. It was just more climbing on mashed legs. Instead we had a staggered start on the bikes. Being 3rd overall we set off in that order 30secs behind Thule who were 2nd. The plan today? Don’t lose more than 13minutes to Raw Adventure. So when they passed us after 10 minutes going like the clappers I was a little concerned. They were riding strong and soon were out of sight. All we could do was race as fast as possible. If it wasn’t enough then that’s disappointing but the reality of racing.
The upside was that I was feeling much stronger than yesterday and was able to share towing duties with Rich & Stu to get Elina up yet another 1000+m of climbing as quick as possible.

Starting the run we’d lost 5minutes on Raw adventure who were leading the stage. Thule were within sight but had no influence on the final result so I ignored what they were up to. Feeling pretty good on the run we all shared the role of helping Elina through what was a pretty brutal 90 minute run. Adding to the challenge, Elina had bruised ribs after yesterday and couldn’t breath properly. Good times!
Time to paddle. Brilliant. An out & back course gave good feedback that we’d conceded 9mins to Raw adventure and only had 4 up our sleeve. Nothing changed on the paddle but they were going hard and we needed a solid final run to hold 3rd overall.

The final run was slippery & technical in places making progress seem slower than it was. Ah well, its only pressure. Yet again the day finished with 150m of vertical steps out of a limestone gorge. The Chinese love to make these races tough – and right to the end. We did well on the stairs and crossed the line 10 minutes behind Raw Adventure, who also won the stage. 3rd overall but only just!

It had been a turbulent race. There was a different winner for every stage including the prologue and a new team had been on the podium for every stage showing the depth of the field. It would have been great to back up our first two days and win overall but Wulong is a tough nut to crack. You can’t have any weaknesses.
That said it was great to take 3rd and as always we raced well as a cohesive unit.

A big thanks to Toread for sponsoring our team and to my personal sponsors who help it all happen. Torpedo 7, Legend Paddles, Rasdex, Thermatech.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Gibbs Hill Challenge 2015: Using toddlers to break a record

The Gibbs Hill Challenge is an awesome race centred in Takaka. It's a great excuse to visit Golden Bay and temporarily escape life as a townie. We decided to make a weekend of it, hiring a Bach in Pohara. Nothing beats a morning paddle across Wainui Bay followed by an afternoon in front of the fire.

Zack likes me to be well prepared for my races these days so despite a 9am start he was insistent on a 5am wake up. Three year olds can be so thoughtful.

Cutting a long story short we woke to a big freeze. Overnight rain and a frost had made for cool conditions for the first ride. Soon enough Walter started us off onto the first 23km bike to Wainui Bay. My cold legs suffered with the pace but a brisk 41minutes had the first 3 of us in transition. Dismounting the bike I was prepared for a slick transition on the fly hoping to start running on my own. A quick loop of the transition revealed that Rach had not yet arrived. Bugger! So my wish to run out of TA solo was granted albeit in the wrong direction. I now began a search for Rach and my running shoes guided by the noise of two irate toddlers. Transitioning out of the stroller I began the run with an extra dose of aggression and time to make up. Character building one could say.

The 21km run goes out of Wainui bay uphill to a saddle below Gibbs Hill then down to Wharewharangi, undulating its way to Totaranui.  From here it rises steeply to the top of Gibbs Hill before dropping back to the fore mentioned saddle and Wainui Bay then the bikes. Knowing time was lost I ran harder than planned to the saddle hoping to catch a glimpse of those in front. Not seeing a sole I asked a SAR volunteer what the gap was to the next runner. "Oh not too far" he said. Internally disagreeing with his feedback (The gap appeared much more to me) I pushed the same intensity down to Wharewharangi where more volunteers were stationed hoping to make some time up. Feeling considerably worse for wear I again asked the burning question  this time rephrasing "how far  ahead is the leader". "You are the leader" she said. Un f@!kingbelievable I thought to myself. Anyhow, it had set me up for a good run provided I didn't blow.

Which I didn't....but plenty of suffering went down climbing up Gibbs Hill from Totaranui. Soon enough I was back on the bike and feeling as good as can be expected on the ride back to Takaka. With such a beautiful course this was the time I managed to soak some of it in and enjoy feeling warm on the bike.

Finishing strong and without any further mishaps I had managed a win and also managed to take a couple of minutes of the record. This was great news for Rach after our transition whoopsie earlier and shows that a bit of aggression can occasionally help fuel a decent performance! Crewing with Toddlers however is highly "not recommended"!.

Many thanks to Rach & Shirley for organising 3 boys for the race and to my trusty sponsors for helping my race happen. Thermatech, Torpedo7, Rasdex, Legend paddles & Migym Nelson.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

3D Rotorua, Queens Birthday 2015

I've now completed four out of the five 3D Rotorua events. Its always been a good weekend to catch up with family, enjoy the Rotorua bike trails and enjoy one of the most relaxed races regarding logitics I've experienced. It really is an easy race to get organised for.

My previous 6 weeks of training had gone really well. Erring on the side of less training to better balance work and kids had paid off. I'd raced well in the Crazyman as well as the St Clair half Marathon. Last weeks defeat to Rich Ussher in our local duathlon had been a timely trip back to earth ahead of 3D. Going into the race I felt strong and confident of a good hard race.

Starting at a leisurely 10:45 the race start was far from leisurely. Dan Busch, Travis Mitchell and Sam Clark set the early pace leaving Rich, myself and Aaron Cox fighting amongst the slop. Setting into a good rhythm we completed the two laps almost 90secs behind Dan and Travis and about a minute behind Sam who had been sliced off the wash on a buoy.

Hitting the beach I shifted my focus to a slick transition and with help from my brother in Law Mark we did just that.The bike course from Blue Lake follows the edge of the road before ducking into the Whakarewarewa Forest trails. Its an uphill 2km section that I've previously experienced cold legs (paddling a ski) and felt fairly rubbish while riding. This time was a different story. The legs felt good so I pushed hard for the first few k's catching my first glimpse of Dan Busch and Sam Clark as I neared the highest point of the ride. Next up was the "corners" trail and so much fun I forgot I was racing for a few moments. On this section I managed to pass Dan Busch and caught another glimpse of Sam who I hadn't made any further progress on. Sticking to the plan I shifted the focus back to my riding and rode alone for another 10minutes. At this stage I caught a glimpse of Rich chasing me down. Nothing like being hunted to fuel the motivation!

A further 10 minutes went by before Rich inevitably caught me and set about hunting down Sam. I concentrated on holding his wheel with Sam now only 15secs ahead. Several minutes ticked by with no change in the gap, until a couple of changes swung the race slightly in my direction. Rich succumbed to an awkward root giving me a chance to get past and seizing the opportunity to reestablish a gap I picked up the pace. The lift in speed dropped the gap to Sam in a matter of minutes. For the next 15 or so minutes I let Sam set the pace and concentrated on staying in touch, riding into transition right on his wheel. This transition can be a little chaotic as duathletes ahead create disturbance to gear, shoes are shifted etc. I had Mark in transition with the sole purpose of ensuring my shoes were where I left them and it paid off. Another slick shoe change and I ran out 1st, Sam trailing by a couple of seconds.

The run was a race of two halves, a short half and a long half. Mentally the short half was more taxing than the long one.
Half One: Out of TA I ran as fast and smooth as possible. I didn't look back, instead listening for breathing. By the top of the hill (quite a grunt for those uninitiated) feeling quite happy with myself I allowed a brief look back. Disappointingly Sam was only 50m back. Ah shit....another one of these races. Its going to hurt. After such disappointing feedback I took the option least tempting for my legs. Increase the pace again for the downhill.

 Compliments, Dscribe Media

Half two: By the bottom of the hill I had a sense there was a gap but was not in the headspace to look back. If I ran as fast as I could looking back was of no benefit. As I ran through for lap 1 feedback confirmed there was indeed a gap but I wasn't taking any chances and pushed right to the end.

Compliments, Dscribe Media

It was a great finish and awesome to finally win 3D after a four year apprenticeship. Stoked!

A big thanks to my loyal family/ support crew for motivating me all the way, and to my awesome sponsors: Topedo7, Thermatech, Rasdex and Legend Paddles. Without amazing support its impossible to have an amazing race!

Nelson Mail report:
Nelson Multisport Dominance reinforced in Rotorua