The 2013 Buller Marathon was my first year lining up for this event. This wonderful race starts deep inside the heart of the Buller Gorge on the West Coast of New Zealand. Heading up the river for the first 8km, the course then turns around and takes you back down the Buller Gorge, finishing at the quaint town of Westport.
For those of you who haven’t run at this event before, to be honest – you’re missing out. The setting combined with the community atmosphere, of which you can only experience in NZ’s smallest towns, contributed to one epic event. To see everyone sprawled out on the Westport Domain after they’ve competed, drinking a beer or two, added to the fantastic mix.
Don’s (my coach) perspective for this event was that we’d treat it as a stepping stone; a race to get back my confidence and to become more familiar with the marathon distance. Going into the race I was relatively confident I’d run somewhere close to 2:30 based on workouts I was doing…
So, as the gun sounded a small pack of Vajin Armstrong, Nelson’s Simon Mardon, and myself pushed to the front. Vajin’s recently become the three time Kepler Challenge winner and is becoming one of New Zealand’s top 100km specialists. Although, I do vividly remember breaking 9 minutes for 3km, when I was 17, for the first time tucked in behind Vajin, before I sprinted past him with a couple of laps to go… Moving on, Simon was the previous year’s winner with a strong time of 2:30. Therefore, from the gun I knew the tone of the race was set and everyone’s intentions were made clear.
As the race progressed through the first stages I felt really comfortable and relaxed, which is always a good sign when racing. Don’s advice was to enjoy as much of the early stages as possible (the most scenic), and to relax through these stages too. We were averaging just over 3:30min/kms which was bang on what I was aiming to run.
After 10km or so, Vajin planted a few surges up the hills, which broke Simon and let Vajin and myself push on and widen the gap. We continued to push the pace and went through half way in 1:15:15, and at this stage I felt incredibly fresh. However, at around 27-28km the legs and body started to feel heavy, as we climbed a few more hills. Vajin kept the tempo strong and I felt myself drift off the pace once or twice, I pushed hard on the down hill to get back on Vajin. At this stage I remember thinking to myself that I could probably stick with Vajin to around 35km, however, a stupid lapse in concentration going up the next hill broke the bungey cord that was keeping me on him.
As I went through 30km, I was about 60-80m behind Vajin, trying to keep rhythm and focus. But at this point, we hit the biggest hill yet, and half way up I got struck by chronic stitch – obviously I’d taken on too much fluid at the last drink station. At this point I knew I was done, and pretty much stopped as the stitch was crippling. I did manage to push on averaging around 5min/kms for the next 10mins, battling through the stitch, waiting for third place to pick me up.
At about 6km to go, I was still suffering from a little stitch and was now batteling a heap of fatigue too. I just focused on trying to run each KM as even as I could.
Running down the main road of Westport I was glad to be nearing the end of the race, but having enjoyed so much of it, felt that I wanted to do it again.. but better.
I crossed the line in second with a time of 2:36, 4-5mins behind Vajin who had kept up the same pace going the whole way. Simon came in third with 2:39 and from what he said after, had been suffering the whole race.
Being able to reflect on this race has again helped to point me in the right direction with my current training; realising what I was doing well, and also highlighting the few critical aspects I need to improve on. For one, I can probably count on my hands the number of times I’ve run further than 35km, and to be a good marathoner you need to train your body to keep going and pushing during these later stages – and from what happened at Auckland Marathon at the 23km, and here at Buller at around 28km, I simply don’t have that top level endurance yet… But to be honest, at 24 I’m not too bothered because I know that the strength will come with time.
Overall I was happy with the day. I suspect Don was a little disappointed by the effort, as we’d both hoped for a time a heck of a lot faster – but hey, that’s marathon running. They’re bloody tough races no matter how much training you have done, or how much talent you’ve been gifted.
Getting up at 4:00am is an experience in itself, but getting up at 4am to run the Auckland Marathon was a totally different kettle of fish – the excitement, the dread, the sleep deprivation – all smooshed together.
Auckland was my second marathon attempt after a failed first attempt at Christchurch Marathon back in June of 2012. Before Auckland I was happy with my training, as I’d consistently hit most of my mileage targets and had managed to string together 15 weeks of predominately solid training.
As indicated above, I woke on the day of the event at 4am. With a quick bite to eat I made my way across the road to the ferry. At that time of the morning, it was hilarious to see two distinct types of people; the partygoers were still out in-force rampaging the streets of downtown Auckland. And on the other hand all the marathoners were making their way through the streets too, to get to the ferry. I vividly remember two girls approaching me in their drunkn’ state and slurringly asked me if I was running a marathon. I replied, ‘yes, are you not???’
So, after a brief ferry ride and a short walk, I arrived at the elite start, and managed to sit down and rest before the start of the journey at 6:10am.
Before the start of the race I was pretty excited to see how I’d cope with the race. As the gun went there was a relatively conservative initial sprint, and as always with races like this, a punter went to the front. Their short lead lasted about 500m as what I can only describe as realisation set in that they have to run 42kms!
Anyway, I knew the first 15-17km of the race was gong to be ‘hilly’ as numerous people, including my coach, had described it to me. But I wasn’t physically, or even mentally prepared for just how ‘hilly’ the first half really was. Rowan Walker and Scott Winton went to the front after a few KM’s and stated their race intentions. I was in a pack of 5 about 100-200m back where we were averaging around 3:30s over this section of the race. I was feeling okay, not fantastic, but was looking forward to getting the hilly sections done so that I could focus on running even splits and pushing the pace on the flat back half of the race. As the hills became larger and more common the pace started to become slightly more aggressive, with Pannett getting a mini breakaway with a serge around 13km.
We finally progressed to the start of the flat section. Tony Payne and I were racing in 3rd and 4th at this stage, going through half way in around 1:14:00. I was feeling pretty strong, and was encouraging Tony to go a little faster, however, this was short-lived. At around 23-24km my legs started to seize up and become really tired. My breathing and energy levels seemed fine, however, the cramp in my legs started to take control. I dropped off the back of Tony and soon the others were on me. I tried a desperate last serge to get back on the pace, but this was short lived.
From here my race deteriorated really quickly. I remember, thinking that all I wanted to do at this point was finish, and I knew I was going to do what ever it took to do so. I found an equilibrium pace around 4min/kms that wasn’t too fast where my legs were going to fully cramp and stop, or that wasn’t too slow so that my legs didn’t seize up completely. I was desperately trying to minimise the impact pain, and took to running on the white lines on the road as I felt the impact was slightly less than the black hard tarseal…
I ended up placing 9th, which overall was a 6th place in New Zealand, as there were a couple of international people racing. I ran 2:39 which is a surprisingly oaky time considering how slow my last 17km was.
I leant a lot from this race, and most importantly finally understood the importance of long tempo training for this distance.
So, my Auckland Marathon experience was disappointing disaster, but at the same time I was stoked to finish and to get my first, of hopefully many, marathons competed.
What a season it has been for all those involved in the 2012 New Brighton Olympic relay teams. I was lucky enough represent New Brighton Olympic in the senior men’s A team. With a win at the Hagley Relay to kick-start the A-Team’s season, wins at both the Riverside Relay and the Takahe to Akaroa, and a fantastic second place at New Zealand’s National Road Relay, were the teams’ accomplishments for the season.
At this point It’s important to say a special thanks to Leyton for all his hard work involved in organising and helping all the athletes… without people like LT it’s safe to say that we wouldn’t have had a team, the depth of athlete, or the dedicated support…
For me the recent National Road Relay champs was an absolute exhibition of guts and determination by the guys in the team. We knew going into the race Wellington Scottish were the team to beat, but if we could all somehow muster something special then we knew we could get close…
Unfortunately for us, an incredible combination of running by Scottish over the second half of the relay contributed to them just stomping past us on the final lap.
On reflection, the team is, and deservingly so, proud of how close we got to the win. The whole team put everything into their runs and really went for it. It’s easy to be disappointed by the outcome of the race. However, looking at the bigger picture, the guys and I have been discussing the influence this result has for the club. No longer will up and coming distance runners, or athletes arriving in Christchurch look to run for other clubs; NBO will be the pick of the bunch. There’s so much fantastic history from both clubs and all things going to plan I think it’s exciting to see the club setting a tone of a nationally competitive senior team for the future. With these great foundations in place and with the combined hard work of everyone to recommend NBO, the club will develop to become stronger and stronger.
Finally, bring on the 2013 relay season, we’ve got some unfinished business…
For those who haven’t yet seen the video yet, have a watch of the video I put together. It will help to showcase how the event turned out:
With all the hullabaloo around the release of the CCDU’s rebuild plan for Christchurch City, I thought it timely to write a brief piece on how the plan will impact us; the runners. The earthquake may have affected our beloved city and houses, our track, and our livelihood, but is there a silver lining?
Whether you like the CCDU’s plan or not, I think we can find some common ground and collectively agree Christchurch City is going to be the best running city in the world! (maybe a slight exaggeration).
With the proposed widening of the Avon River bank (all the way to Brighton), I couldn’t think of a better place for Saturday morning tempo runs, or even as an epic addition to your standard Hagley Park loop. Further, the proposed ‘Frame’, which starts from South Hagley and heads along the base of the city, then shoots north up to the Avon, is going to provide another great extension to the Hagley lap.
From my quick calculations, a standard lap of Hagley is approximately 6km. The new lap which takes into consideration the ‘Frame’ loop will be around 10.6km! Now that’s going to make everyone’s training ever so slightly more enjoyable.
Oh, and here’s another interesting point… If the ‘officials’ move the Christchurch City 2 Surf so that it runs back along the Avon River and out to Brighton, I believe this race could be one of the best on the running Calendar!
So there you have it… the CCDU’s vision will benefit runners. Fantastic!
Hagley Park; sun, rain, hail, or even snow is perhaps Christchurch’s best asset. Back in June we experienced two weeks of brutally cold weather, Christchurch had definitely turned down the temperature gauge. For me and many others,or passion for sport don’t stop even in the worst conditions. You might think it’s madness, i think it’s just plain fun.
So here’s a quick video I made, showing off Hagley Park in its wintery glory.
New Zealand’s Canterbury Cross Country showcased some of the regions’ top athletes – Sam Wreford, Callan Moody, Brett Tingay and Daniel Balchin were all strong contenders for the top spot. Sam Wreford, once again, proved his strength over the long distance. With a couple of tactical & aggressive surges, Sam opened up a sustainable lead over the rest of the field and held on to win the event.
Callan Moody, who ended up in second place also had a great run. Callan proved his strength over the longer distance, sending a message to the rest of the country that he’ll be tough competition at Nationals in a few weeks time.
A perfect winters day in Christchurch played host to the 2012 South Island Cross Country Champs. The tough 9km course paid dividends to Sam Wreford from Timaru, who recently won the Christchurch Marathon in 2:17. His form proved too much for the other contenders, Brett Tingay and Nick Rennie, although Nick put up a good fight for the first lap or two. Brett Tingay came home strong to finish the race in second, which obviously indicates his Iron-Man training is paying off.
Take the time to view my video of the Senior Mens race below.
It’s here, the moment 2433kms, 186:54 hours, 4.5 months of training goes toward; the Christchurch Marathon.
It’s mid afternoon, on the 2nd of June, the day before the race, which so happens to be my 24th Birthday also. I feel relaxed, rested and ready for the big race tomorrow morning. The fields for all the events are some of the best they’ve ever been at any NZ Marathon event. And as a result, I’m expecting a fast pace from the gun as the packs will be surging and jostling for position. Overall, it will no-doubt be a fantastic event, with such classy runners about.
My game plan is relatively simple; I’ll aim to run 1:13:00-1:14:00 through half way, and hopefully (fingers crossed here), my niggly Hip Flexor and cold don’t hold me back and I can push on to run a negative split and get close to my personal goal of running 2:24:59. My coach and I both agree on this plan, as Christchurch will be my first marathon, so I’ll be learning and feeling my way though most of the race and have no real idea regarding what to expect.
I’ve been around the course today and if the conditions are fine, the flat roads will pay dividends to fast times all round.
So, until next time – who knows what will happen… game on!
I’m between a rock and a hard place/marathon. A place some of you may have been before. It’s this place affecting the status quo; the smoothness of my final training prep before I race the Christchurch Airport Marathon, June 3rd.
The set backs initially started four weeks from race day, after the New Balance 15km. I had a niggle with my Hip Flexor, and only managed to run 79km for the week. In my schedule I’d planned to run close to 200km, so I was already forced on my back foot for the final few weeks.
With extensive help from my massage therapist, and lots of rest and stretching I managed to come right three weeks out. I actually had a pretty good weeks training, including two longish runs and two workouts, but by the end of the week I only manage 7km for Sunday. On the Saturday I tempoed a 10km at marathon race pace (approx. 34min). I felt utterly crap for the tempo, heightened by wearing brand new racing flats, which gave me pain through my feet.
By the time Sunday rolled around, I was completely exhausted and had come down with the flu too… brilliant.
So here I am, two weeks out from the marathon, with a slight niggle to my Hip Flexor, sore joints and a stuffy flu.
Running fast is all about confidence, confidence allows you the mental capacity to push harder on race day and attempt the daring. So understandably, with these slight disruptions to my final prep, I’ve been questioning my confidence somewhat. But what I’ve come to realise is I’ve just completed 20 weeks of over 140km per week, including my best workouts and best mileage ever! Yeah, the last two weeks haven’t gone completely to plan, but if I can recover to 100% by race day, then who knows what will happen.
Often when ‘the plan’ doesn’t happen the way you expected, you start to loose confidence. But here’s a solution; having the ability to be adaptive with training and planning give you even more benefit. I believe this is one of my strengths, every time in the last few weeks that I’ve been hit with a set back, I’ve been able to readjust, and have been able to figure out another way of training… That ultimately gives me confidence.
Earlier in the year (January 2012), I visited Wainui Bay for my summer break. Prior to my arrival, the bay and surrounding Nelson areas were devastated by torrential rain, prompting large slips and flash floods.
I was fortunate enough to holiday with a few close friends over in Wainui, and to also lend a hand with the cleanup. When we arrived there was still 1ft+ of water free flowing straight through the valley, and we had to navigate our way though carefully. Large hillside slips had also demolished many of the roads on the hillside, with particular devastation to the Totaranui road.
A week or so later as we left, I decided to film the drive out, with the intention of providing the community of people with a few memories, be it devastating even so.