The start at Arataki.  We were 2m from this sign when another runner stopped and asked us where the Hillary Trail started?So another run of the Hillary Trail done and an added bonus of a new fastest known time set.  I did 10 hours 10 minutes.  Just a half Hillary as one of my non-running friends refers to it now after I did the double!  However this run was always planned as a training session for the upcoming 100km Tarawera Ultra. 

I wanted to run a decent distance at pace (my pace – hence the solo effort), while also focusing on practising a few things along the way and testing some gear.  My goals:

  •  A fighter not a lover!
  • Feed the Machine
  • Drink up a storm
  • Gear

Please don’t read just these goals and close the page or you’ll be mistaking me for a drunk, wife-beating crazy man with the munchies! 

I had these specific goals I wanted to focus on and managed to tick them all off successfully along the way.  I’ll go into these later as they are more for the fellow running geeks or even those starting out to learn from.  For non-sporty people a quick roundup of the run….

So it was successful training run.  I am stoked with how things went with these goals and the resulting time.  A bit gutted I didn’t’ break the 10 hour mark when it was looking like I would - with a time just under 5 hours 30 mins at Piha.  But that heat got me and at the end of Te Henga before popping out on the road, I was fried!  Luckily after some water in gob and on head, I still had the energy to finish strongly doing the last 5kms in about 25mins – not bad after 70km!

I’m also stoked with how the body feels – nowhere near as sore as after the Kauri Ultra so I can only assume that I’m a bit fitter and the three goals I was monitoring have helped.  This bodes well for the 100km Tarawera Ultra race in March.  The legs are tired but not really tight and nasty like after previous missions.  If anything the rest of my body is more bruised from the massive tumbles I had in the first half of the day.  After a couple of weeks of dry, most of the clay tracks were really hard, but with the rain in the morning they were super slick and greasy so I slipped big time at speed and a couple of times just lay where I feel, doing that body stocktake thing that you do to make sure everything still moves!

No spiel on the Hillary trail in this report – it hasn’t changed!  Still a great run, with an amazing challenge for all – no matter what the pace you choose to do it at. After doing the Double last July I didn’t think I’d run it again but it was really quite enjoyable this time (and I’m saying that less than a day after finishing!).  Under 10 hours is there for the taking and 9 and a half is there for the speedsters!

Thanks to Gus for being my support crew.  He and I ran the first ever Hillary Trail run together just over 2 years ago now and it was great having him there as support.  I was worried he’d get bored but he said there wasn’t too much downtime when you move through the trail quickly.  Thanks also to Gus for the photos in this report which are from his phone.

A bit demoralising having one of my daughters out sprint me at the end!

The End

Finish!

Now a report on those goals…

A fighter not a lover!

“Be aggressive” was my mantra during the 10 hours of running.  Traditionally I have been attempting these longer runs and the Kauri Ultra race with not a lot under the belt as far as training goes and subsequently have found I settle, a little too easily, into a plod after the initial rush of adrenaline.  With a bit of training and some hill sessions under my belt, I wanted to make sure I pushed the whole way – hence the mantra and I found myself saying this a lot, both while jogging up the easier hills or tramping the steeper ones.  I’d tell myself to get aggressive and start striding out stronger with arms pumping, making sure I was going a good pace – rather than stoop back into the plod when it got tough.

I reckon I accomplished this goal.  My phone GPS thing clocks splits every km and I had some good min/km rates throughout.  I averaged a smidge over 8min kms for the day, an average of 7mins 34 per km for the first half and 8mins 34 per km for the second.   For the last ½ hour along the roads, I managed just over 5min/kms which I’m stoked with after 70km.

I also wanted to start reasonably hard to recreate the rush in the first hour of a race till everyone settles down, so pushed quite hard.  For the first two hours I averaged 6mins 34 per km.

But on the flip side of this “Be Aggressive” mantra was a constant eye on my heart rate monitor.  At the Kauri Ultra I got suckered into the lead bunch for too long and my heart rate was red-lining for too long – consequently I paid a bit for this later.  So I wanted to remain below 160 for a much as possible and as per the graph I am stoked with how this worked!  I am pretty sure this careful monitoring early, helped created the reserves needed for later.

The last point for the “Be Aggressive” goal, was time spent at the support stops.  I wanted to breeze through these as it’s wasted time.  I did this for the smaller stops - just put food and fluid in the pack and go, so these were a couple of minutes each.  Piha blew out to around 10 minutes with a change of shoes and sunblock etc. so still work to do here!

Feed the machine

I wanted to focus on eating right the whole way.  In the past I’d start eating something after an hour and then try and eat something every half hour to 45 minutes after that, but would quite often realise I’d missed a feed.  This is fine but you pay for it later when you start to run out of energy.  So this time I got nutritionally geeky and listed out what I’d eat for each leg making sure it was the right number of calories and mixing it up so I’d be interested in eating it. So my great support man – Gus, had a list of what I wanted lined up to collect at each stop.

I managed to do this throughout the day and probably only missed out on the planned intake in the last hour when it got really hot and I could see the finish.  Once again this, what felt like pigging out all day, really paid off as I still had energy to burn at the end.  Along Te Henga I struggled a bit energy wise but I think this was heat more than food intake as I’d been eating well till then and had a good fed at my Bethells support stop.  But once I hit the road and downed a litre of water plus a bit more over the head, I had energy to burn and raced hard for the last 5km – spurred on by wanting to get as close to 10 hrs as possible, now I knew the under 10hrs wasn’t going to happen. 

Another benefit to me was no cramps during the day.  I’ve been quite susceptible to cramps in the past and this food (and fluids) regime meant I had nothing more than a couple of “I might cramp soon” twinges from the legs throughout the day.  This was fought off with another large sip of the electrolytes.

Drink up a storm

The last major goal was fluids – to keep this going in fast!  I’m a cold temperature lover so as soon as it heats up I’m struggling.  So the trick I needed to focus on, after the experience of the Kauri Ultra, was drinking the whole time no matter what – this means when it starts to warm up I wouldn’t be in the situation of ‘too little too late’ in the hydration scheme of things.  So in the morning for the first 3-4 hours when it was raining I was making sure I was still guzzling down the fluid.  I tried and actually managed to keep this up throughout the day – apart from the Te Henga walkway leg where I didn’t have enough so was conserving and probably fell a bit behind.

As well as the intake levels I wanted to try out a mix of liquids.  So I had a 1.5 litre bladder of slightly higher than normal concentrated electrolyte (I use Nuun) and a handheld bottle of just water.  This was the first time with a hand held bottle and I quite liked it mainly for knowing how much I’d drunken in a leg, because it’s right there in your hand – you can feel and see the water level dropping.

Gear

Handheld Bottle - I wanted to try the handheld bottle out and as I above found it really helpful. Once you are used to carrying it you don’t notice its weight.  The only downsize was not having that second hand to catch you in the rough stuff – especially on tumbles.  But this should be a concern on smoother terrain.

Pack – I wanted to recreate what gear I’d need to carry for Tarawera.  There is no compulsory gear for Tarawera, so it’s just water and food which is not something I’m used to. I usually carry a lot extra and carry spare food and everything.  So for this run I emptied our all this excess and just took the food I would eat for each stage and the fluids – just for that stage.  I could have gone all the way but still carried a first aid kit and a warm top and hat – just cause I don’t thinks its sensible running in the Waitak’s by yourself without these.  My pack felt super light and is probably a bit big with so little gear so I need to sort that out.

Shoes – I changed shoes and socks at Piha.  Some people do this at the Tarawera event so thought I might as well.  Was nice to change in dry shoes and socks – not that its lasts long!

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