After a big week of training I decided the best thing to do, just to make sure I was completely destroyed, was to enter an off-road half marathon in Taupo!
With GU Energy NZ a main sponsor I was keen to head down there and support the race, and it's not too often that you are able to run around the Mt. Tauhura area.
I lined up pretty flat after a few big days in training, and luckily when we started the pace wasn't too fast so I was able to hold back in around 8th and warm into the race. At around 3km in (mostly downhill until then), I started to feel pretty good so moved closer to the front and when we got to around 5km in, the three of us at the front surged and got away from around 10 behind. We had a big out and back section and we started to pull away from the others behind. Looking at the pace we were running I was getting a bit nervous as to whether I would be able to hold it for the rest of the race...my Magellan Switch was getting splits of around 3.15-3.20 minute kilometres on the undulating trails/gravel roads, which isn't made for fast running!
After the out and back section (uphill going out and downhill coming back) the three of us were still together heading into the last 10km. We turned off the main gravel road and into a very steep, undulating single track, and one of the guys started surging and opening a small gap. I was running third, hoping to save a bit of energy, but I could tell the guy in second was starting to fatigue prety badly. After yo-yoing off the guy at the front, the 10m gap started to turn to 20, then 30 and then out of sight at around 100m. I knew I had to come round this guy if I wanted to win, the only problem was that I didn't know if I could. We still had to 6km to go, and I was already on my limit. I decided to give it a try though so surged around this guy and set about trying to hunt the leader down. The trail flattened out which was good for me, and I was able to make ground up on the leader and with 4km to go I was side by side with him.
I had been warned about the big hill at the end of the race and with 3km to go we hit the bottom of it. I could tell that this guy was strong on the hills, but I told myself that if I hung with him I would back myself to win with the last kilometre of the race being steep downhill to the finish. I managed to hold him for half of the two kilometre climb, but he slowly pulled away and at the top had 30 seconds on me. I was starting to blow and wasn't able to pull him back down the hill, easing off to save my legs from the impact of running hard down hill.
After 22.5km (it was a bit long) and with around 600m vertical climbing done, I hit the finish in 2nd, happy with how I ran but pretty smashed from the week of training and the race to top it off. All good training though and after a bit of recovery I will come out of it stronger!