Xterra Series - Race 4
Sunday July 25th saw us up early to head off to Hunua for Xterra race number 4! We were excited to race amongst the Hunua Ranges, another East Auckland location made it feel like a "home" race and Hunua is a magical slice of wilderness that we love exploring on our weekends off. This time I made sure to eat a little breakfast - a banana and a protein bar as I knew this race was going to be the longest race in the calendar so proper fueling was essential!
We didn't give ourselves much time to spare before the race start, I think when you live a bit closer you leave it even later to leave the house! So we did end up having to rush to catch the end of the race briefing and then we were off! Leaving the Mangatawhiri Campsite for the woodland trails heading out toward Blackberry trail and then snaking alongside the Managatawhiri river in it's neighbouring dense bush.
The first half of the race was mainly flat and packed trails, passing some neat little streams and feeling utterly lost amongst the magnificence of the ranges. I passed the aid station at 2.9kms with just a wave and a smile but regretted it later, for the next aid station was after 8kms and my legs were really hurting! This felt like a very long race. Perhaps I was a little more tired than previous weeks but the trails seemed to just keep forging out in front of me, with each laboured step I didn't feel like I was making great progress. The three of us had splintered off at the very start and my mind drifted to wondering how Josh and Shaun were coping with the course and if they shared my mental fatigue with the distance.
The second half of the race was more promising of challenges. The open gravel track narrowed into single trail and rose and fell in waves of undulating rhythm. I mentally shut out the nagging in my knees that told me they had gratefully had enough for the day. I kept climbing and falling with the forest and kept looking at all the amazing fauna along river road. Eventually we wound our way to a final downhill and the faint sound of finishing cheers could be heard some way off. I was slumping my legs along with me at this point and I could have cried when running into the final paddock before the finish line the course was telling me to run in a circle rather than a direct line to the finish! It really did feel like it wasn't going to end and I was a little relieved when I crossed the line to the sound of Shaun and Josh cheering my name and it was good to hear that they too had found this course felt longer than the kilometres on our watch told us it was. I was grateful for the fair weather though, mild conditions meant we didn't have wind and rain to battle with along with our legs.
It doesn't take long to recover though and we treated ourselves to home-cooked roast pork and crackling, with gravy, roasties, veggies and Shaun's specialty - Yorkshire puddings! Until next time Xterra - thanks for the awesome challenge!
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