Monday, December 04, 2006

Kepler Ultramarathon


Kepler report

60km 8.59.
and very tired.



more info on the kepler race (including course profile) here: http://www.keplerchallenge.co.nz/
and another report here: http://www.coolrunning.com.au/forums/index.php?showtopic=12304&pid=206447&st=60&#entry206447

for some reason i had the idea i would trot into the finish, camera still in hand, smile still of face in 8hrs or so with a solid bogong-hotham 'training run' under my belt.
but that was bullshit.

spent pretty much all of friday travelling to get to te anau.
woke at 5am for my 8am plane to christchurch then on to queenstown from there.
i think new zealand has as many mountains as australia does square kms of desert!
fabulous views from the plane heading west over the south island.
it was great to land in queenstown - i was still in awe just heading coming out from the supermarket and looking at 'the remarkables' (mountains).
finally arrived in te anau 8pm local time so had missed the course briefing.
quickly checking in to the hotel. drove to the start (only a few mins from town) to look at mt luxmore and then quickly back to town to get my gear checked at race hq.
woke at 4.30am local time (1.30am brissie time - ouch!) to tape the feet and drive to the start.

just beat the bus to the start so could check in before the masses.
the 500m walk from the car to/from the start was good to keep warm.
kept the thermal on until just before the start.
this main event has 400 entries so it had more of a 'fun run' atmosphere than an ultra or mountain run.

the short jog to brod bay (5.6km) was a little slow simply due to numbers on the track but things certainly started to thin out going up the hill towards the tree line.
saw some 'white stuff' alongside the track even before the tree line (900m) which reiterated what i had seen from the road and what the locals had told me about the snow they had had there on thursday.
above the tree-line is like another world.
well i guess it is another world - cold, windy and unforgiving.
yet beautiful.
u want to spend as much time on the mountain as possible and yet it can be a tad uncomfortable up there and i guess u are in a race after all!
i stopped at the tree line to put my thermal top, hat and gloves on.
snow started on the track proper just coming into luxmore hut (1085m/13.8km) but it was pretty well trampled/flattened by the 300 or so runners who had already passed thru!
made my third toliet stop at the hut (the cold weather does that to me sometimes) , got the compulsory gear check and moved on.
was already running a bit slow here: arrived in 2.07 i think and left after 2.13 which was even slower than when i went for 'a jog' up there 2 yrs ago.

the next 12-13km is above the tree line and much of it was covered by slush/snow.
the footing wasnt too bad but it is hard to run on - so instead on running 80% and walking 20% of this section as planned i guess (looking at my times) i did the reverse!
its certainly a spectacular part of the world and i did stop on several occasions to take photos and to simply stop and look in awe.

seemed to take forever to get to hanging valley which indicated the start of the drop towards iris burn hut.
by this stage the trail was mainly steps and mud - mind you it was a lot less slippery than glasshouse mud!
eventually u get to the infamous switchbacks which take u down approx 300m in altitude to iris burn hut and the unofficial half way point.
started looking at my watch more seriously on the way down and actually passed a few people which is unusual for me (am terrible on downs).
arrived at iris burn hut (28.4km down with 31.7km of flatter stuff to go) in 4.40 - eeeeeek!
did some calculating after this and decided that 8.45 was still on but in reality the trail was tougher than planned - lots of twists and turns and little ups and downs.
got some text messages just after iris burn hut from whippet and spud which is always uplifting.
was going to send a text back saying 'choppered out with broken arm' but thought i may jinx myself for future alpine events and anyway i had lost signal again!
by motorau hut (16km to go) i was sitting right on a 9hr finish (with 7.5 min/kms).
was passing a few people in between cp's and then another 5-10 at each cp so figured i was at least making up some time!
its quite a scene at rainbow bridge (9.5km to go) - people can drive/park nearby so lots of loved ones line the track for a few kms and give u a big cheer.
there were even a few people dressed as santa!?
left there with 75mins to spare.

started to feel really crap with 5km to go\o - no energy, dizzy ....
had a hankering for jelly beans so thought i might need some sugar.
always take some glucodin tablets with me on these things and still had some apricots so ate that and plodded on thinking that my sub9hr was gone.
luckily there is a cp with 2.5km to go and grabbed some jelly beans there resisting the temptation to scoff a whole handful thru fear of losing them again.
could hear the finish anouncer soon after this which gave me a lift and the '1km to go' sign was just gold.
looked at the watch and with 7.5mins to go and not knowing if there were any hills left i bolted.
nearly trampled some poor girl in the rush (who i saw finished over 1 min and a half after me!).
came out of the bush with a few hundred metres to go and some idiot said 'beter sprint mate 50 seconds to go' but i actually had another minute on that so had relaxed again by that time.
felt a little jilted coming over the line.
i know i shouldnt have been worried about the time but when u have heaps of people at the finish and u finish under one of those big bloody clocks u can hardly ignore it!
in some ways i wouldve prefered to just finish there by myself knowing that id had a great time and certainly a fantastic adventure.

training run for bogong my arse!

after a few calls/texts to mellum and the other half (not in that order!) went back and had a little nap.
very pleased to get a text from CR amjan when i got up and joined them for a drink then proceeded to invite myself out to dinner with them!
had a lovely time.
went to race hq and ordered some race photos of myself: its amazing how many photographers braved the cold and wind on the mountain.

unfortunately forgot to turn the alarm off and woke at 4.30am local time again (1.30am brissie time eeeeek) but managed to catch another hours sleep after a little walk around town.
headed off again at 10am to queenstown airport then via auckland back home.
arrived home after 9pm (midnight NZ time) and in bed by 11pm (or was that 2am?).
f*ck i was tired!

so basically i spent 1 day travelling.
1 day running.
and another day travelling back.
with a little eating and sleeping in between.

feel much happier now and have all but forgotten about my finish time/place (just in the second half - 233rd/400ish).
very pleased to have completed by 5th ultra for the year.
have pulled up well and am looking forward to B2H and cradle.
cant wait to get the photos off my camera (have a computer malfunction at the moment!)

will i be back?
to south island/fiordland - definately!
to the race - not sure? not the 3-day version anyway!

6 Comments:

Blogger Iron Pete said...

Nice report. Sounds like an awesome race and a great way to spend a long weekend. :-)

1:03 PM  
Blogger Spud said...

Hats off mate, splendid run. A Kepler finisher's shirt, what's it like?
One day...nice report Bro, see ya at Mt Beauty ;-)

1:38 PM  
Blogger Tesso said...

Well done Bro! Hope you manage to enjoy a well deserved recovery.

Looking forward to see a couple of those pics in your blog.

5:19 PM  
Blogger Jen_runs said...

Wow. Sounds like an amazing run Bro. Congrats - I'm so glad that your leg held up. Can't wait to see the photos !

7:19 PM  
Blogger Brendan said...

B*llshit. That is fantastic Bogong training. Well done, congratulations, enjoyed the report

6:16 PM  
Blogger R2B said...

Well thats what i call a tough day at the office!
Well done Bro!
You'll never forget that one i am sure.

R2B

6:01 PM  

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