After doing the 3D Multisport race in Rotorua, and learning to kayak (and having one) IU thought it would be a good chance to have a look on the race calender for races I had never heard about, or never had been able to do before as I didn't compete in multisport. Sam Clark sent me a message a couple of weeks before this race, saying that it was an awesome race to do, and would be good training for our team racing in China. I did a bit of research and pretty quickly decided I liked the sound of the event, and that I had to race.
The Maungatautari Classic is a pretty decent length race, consisting of a 35km road bike, 15km trail run OVER a mountain, 15km road bike, and then a 10km kayak to finish you off.
It was a pretty cool day in Cambridge to start but we knew that with no clouds it was going to turn into a cracker of a day. We started out as a big bunch on the ride and everyone stuck together for the first 10km. Shortly after ten of us rode off the front, and at the next decent hill the group split in two, with five riders going off the front including myself, Sam Clark and Rob Creasy. I know Rob is an awesome runner so I was pretty keen to get rid of him before we got to the first transition.
Sam was setting a pretty decent tempo on the front, and when we got to a steep, one kilometre climb, I decided it was time to attack and try and get away with Sam. The plan worked and myself and Sam, along with a guy called Simon from Auckland, rode away from Rob and the other guy in the group. We kept the pace high and extended our gap heading into T1. I was first to reach our running gear and had a pretty quick transition to get a small gap and head into the mountain first.
The first kilometre was gradual uphill, before the gnarly stuff started as we turned into the singletrack. We were running the OLD track over the mountain which was epic. Rooty, muddy, steep, it was one of the coolest trails I have ever run. We were literally climbing for parts of the track (now I know whythey make you take a first aid pack), and the pace was extremely slow. I had a good gap though and couldn't see or hear anyone behind me. I reached the top of the climb to come out surrounded by fog and couldn't see more then five metres, I bet the view would have been amazing!
I flew down the otherside (going from tree to tree) to come out and then find we had to go up another hill which was longer, steeper and more technical. It was towards the top of this climb that I made a crucial mistake. All the other track options that we could have taken had been taped off until this point. I was in race mode and had tunnel vision for the track and followed it right to the top, only to be greeted by no distinct options for a track to follow. I could see what I thought was an over-grown track so followed it for a couple of hundred metres down the other side, for it to suddenly end. Sure I was going the right way (and scared to turn around and be caught) I bush bashed my way down a bit further, only to find a cliff and no way down. Damm it. Back up to the top I go, and hopefully to see someone else and discuss where to go. Still no one at the top. Ran back down the track to find foot prints going along a different track that I hadn't even seen. They had red markers out, but as I am colour blind, I didn't notice them in all the green bush. Damm.
I was pretty annoyed, having gone from leading to losing at least 10 minutes. I set off just to finish the race, thinking I was surely out of it. Strangely though, after about 10 minutes of running I got a glimpse of Rob. I caught and passed him pretty quickly and heard I was now only around 8 minutes down on the leader. I was feeling pretty good so thought I may as well smash the rest of the run. The next marshall said I was only five mins down on the leader and two behind 3rd. I continued to smash it, and caught 3rd quickly, and set about chasing the leaders down. I couldn't believe it but another couple of kilometres down the track I caught them. I was taking a few risks on the descents, but I seem to be good at running the technical stuff, and was moving a lot faster then Sam and a team runner. As I passed them we came out onto a wide open path, which turned into a road, and had another 3km to run. I put a bit more time into them and got onto the 2nd bike in first.
I was pretty shattered on the bike from the run, but knew I had to keep pushing to at least try and hold off Sam on the paddle. I got to the kayak and couldn't see Sam behind me, so guessed I had five minutes (turned out it was perfectly five). I felt smashed paddling, but kept trying to be consistent. My muscles aren't used to doing this that much yet, and with being fatigued before I got into the boat, I knew it would be a long paddle. I managed to hold off Sam for around 7km, before he blew past, and I blew up. I crawled to the finish in 2nd, having some horrible problems with my glutes after being in the boat for an hour. We had a last 200m uphill run to the finish waiting for us out of the kayaks...which I walked.
It's fair to say this was one awesome race, but one which chewed me up and spit me back out absolutely shattered... I can't wait to come back and give it another crack!