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Race Report: The 2016 Hillary Trail Run

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Having signed up for The Hillary Trail Run nearly six months ago, it was finally my moment of truth and the moment of truth for the other 80 runners who had entered the full 50 mile / 80 kilometre race from Arataki to Muriwai. Whatever the result it was going to be one hell of a ride, and the day really did not disappoint.

My wonderful wife who has suffered through my adventures and tolerated my bad habit of obsessively pursuing dubious goals once again supported me through the race, starting off with dropping me off at Arataki Visitors' Centre on scenic drive at 05:35am on Saturday 27th February. After a trip to the bathroom and briefing by the ever-upbeat race director, Shaun Collins, I and the other runners trouped over to stand underneath the inflatable arch which marked the start. Sarah Hillary briefly addressed us and wished us well on our adventure, and we were off and running through the dark up in the Waitakere Ranges.

Arataki to Huia - Walk the hills
The actual start of t…

Dunnit!

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Race report to follow for my loyal readers; all 3 of you! In the meantime, I finished in 30th place, taking 13 hours and 13 minutes to complete the course.

Well chuffed.


If Jane Campion was a trail runner...

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I'm really enjoying my training for this year's Hillary Trail race and had been planning to get out on Saturday for my second trial run of kit etc... but unfortunately an unplanned lie-in and my kids' desire to go to Motat put the kybosh on that idea. I've rescheduled to Monday, which is looking a bit cooler and less wet.

Still, I did manage to get out on the trail and go for a bit of a blast around Karekare. In total I did about 14k, most of which was spent running up Coman's Track, along Log Race Road to Piha Road and back; however I started off by walking up Zion Hill Track and then running down it at a reasonable pace. This descent is one of my favourites on the whole Hillary Trail because of its length, fairly non-technical nature and wonderful scenery.

As the weather was fairly miserable I had to have the SJCAM in its weatherproof holder, which is nearly soundproof so I was unable to narrate. Rather than just post a silent video I cast my mind around for a su…

HTR Trial Run #1: Kit OK. Nutrition OK. Can run a little. Can't navigate a clearly-marked trail I know well (apparently)

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I had planned to go for a long run on Auckland Anniversary Day. While I ended up getting slightly more of an adventure than I had bargained for, it was a resounding success; I finished the day at Piha (having started at Arataki Visitors' Centre) absolutely knackered, utterly delighted and in relatively little pain. I learned a few lessons on my performance and my kit's performance along the way, and just as importantly I validated my initial race plan, which is now online.

The Run
I was joined by DB at Arataki Visitor's Centre at about 07:00 on Monday morning. He had responded to my advert on the HTR Facebook page and we were both gearing up for a bit of experimentation before the Hillary Trail Run at the end of the month. The basic plan was to try and simulate the first half of the race and run from Arataki to Piha (including the nature trail loop) with a view to checking target pace and kit, as well as getting some decent trail training k's in the bag. After introduct…

Kit checking

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As you'll have seen from my advert on the Hillary Trail Runners Facebook page, I'm having a crack at the first half of the Hillary tomorrow. While this is at least partially just about getting in a really long run in, it's also a really good chance to rehearse my approach to eating and drinking while on the run and to check out the kit that I intend to use for the race.

Wear:
Shoes (Innov8 TrailRoc 255s)SocksVery well worn and comfortable running shortsVestHat (keep sun off)Carry:
Camelbak (actually a biking hydration pack, but works for me)GelsPrezel sticksJelly beansGaribaldi biscuits (a.k.a. Fly cemeteries, squashed fly biscuits etc...)Rubbish bag (respect the land and don't leave your rubbish on it)Light water / windproof topPolypro topSpare t-shirtThin glovesFleece hatMedical kit, whistle and thermal blanket

The number 1 rule of ultras is try nothing new on race day. I've suffered badly with chafing before and I really don't want to suffer again, so I'm g…

Overtraining or just a combination of hot weather and small children? It can be hard to tell...

The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that I took a day off yesterday and didn't take on my usual commute run from the CBD back out West. The long and short of it is that I had a really bad night's sleep and didn't feel up to it after a full day at work.

The important question for me is what the cause of the bad night's sleep was. If it was just a combination of the hot weather and my youngest kicking off overnight, then it's just one of those things and a day off won't do me any harm. I had planned a mini-taper for the later half of the week and can rejig the runs to make up the distance without doing any lasting damage.

On the other hand, insomnia and a lack of motivation are both symptoms of overtraining. Normally I'd not worry overly about this being a likely scenario; however I did run my highest ever weekly total last week and have built back up relatively quickly after a fairly lazy Christmas. I really don't want to sideline myself for The…

I'm on the road again

My week away was wonderful, fantastic even; however a break from one of my activities only ever fires me up for more when I get back to it. As a result, I quite happily banged out 89k on the roads last week, including a 29k hilly road run in and around Laingholm. The downside was that because of family commitments, I wasn't able to make it out onto the trails; hence no video this week. Fortunately, Andrius Ramonas (bane of my purported record for the Karamatura Track run) was kind enough to record some amazing footage which perfectly demonstrates how I wish I could run in my dreams.

Skyrunners Ep1 from Andrius Ramonas on Vimeo.

I'm still feeling a bit undertrained though, as I haven't been out for a really good long (longer than a standard marathon) run since September last year. I also need to give my proposed timings and kit list a bit of a dry run. With this in mind I've planned to use my Auckland Day holiday for a dry run of the Arataki - Piha section of the Hillary…

Back from the dead...

For me, the desire to run comes and goes but I'm generally able to motivate myself to get out on the roads; however even when I'm inspired sometimes things like work and other commitments get in the way. Running is only really my second sport; an idle distraction from my first love if you will. So it was last week, while I was competing at the NZ Fullbore Rifle Shooting Championships. Hugely enjoyable though it was, it was also time consuming and I had an entire week off running.

The pendulum has now swung and with the Hillary Train Run a terrifying five weeks away I'm starting to get some serious mileage (by my mediocre standards) in. I should hit 53 miles / 85 kilometres this week and am going to try and hit 60 miles / 96 kilometres or more for the three following weeks, which should bring me back into condition in time for the race. I think the key for me is going to be getting the long runs in; I had started to hit 30k+ just before I went on vacation and need to start …

Uh oh! You just lost your CR...

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While on vacation down in Wellington I received the disturbing news from Strava that my record for a small section of the Hillary Trail had been surpassed. While it was something of a surprise to me that Strava thought I had any kind of record for anything, apparently I did have the fastest logged time for a massive 600 metre section of the Karamatura Track Climb from 132 attempts by 83 people.

It turns out that one Mr. A. Ramonas bested me. The name may be familiar. As I remarked to my Dad at the time, this is a little like hearing on the news that Mo Farah recently ran the 10,000 metres faster than me.

In praise of routine

It has been a wonderful week of holiday and I've managed to get out a bit and do some running, which is good, but not as much as I really should have done, which is less good.

Key lessons this week have included:
Vaseline is great for avoiding bloody nipples from long runs, but don't expect it to come out of cotton t-shirts when you wash them. This can result in you getting odd looks when you later wear such a t-shirt in town.Routine is good; sometimes is can be hard to fit in a couple of hours of running if you don't have a set time of day to make it happen. I find it easy to run when I'm working but sometimes I fritter away time when I've not got a plan for the day.The sun in NZ is freaking strong. Get used to running in strong sunblock and a hat. All of that said, I really enjoyed the trail run I did from Arataki visitors' centre this week. I did the loop round the nature walk on the Eastern side of Scenic Drive and then down the diverted Hillary Trail to the…