Big win at Goat Kaimai

Last Saturday I took some revenge on Shay Williamson and Chris Morrissey at The Goat Goes Bush Kaimai to take my first win in a big trail race. Since finishing third to these 2 at The Goat Tongariro in December, I have been looking forward to this rematch as I believed I could beat them if everything went to plan on race day. Garmin Connect link here.

My training this side of the New Year has been much more consistent, with less dependency on cycling, and has provided much better conditioning for these long races. By reducing my training intensities and still sticking to only for runs a week I have not missed a single session this year.

Some pre-race banter as usual

Some pre-race banter as usual

This was my first time at the Goat Goes Bush Kaimai but I had heard a fair amount from others to understand the course, and its changes from previous years. I felt very relaxed for the first 3 km on the farm land before hitting the trails and heading up the 400m assent to the top of Wairere Falls. Chris took the early lead on the lower slopes and I was happy to let him go and run my own race this far from the finish. With Chris out of sight, Shay also made a move and passed me most of the way up the climb and unfortunately got out of sight. I finished the climb feeling stable with only a small amount of burning in my calves. More worrying, was that I was getting the stitch again, so I took the next kilometre at an easier pace to allow my breathing to slow. This worked well and prevented the pain from escalating at such an early stage.

The dense Kaimai bush

The dense Kaimai bush

The forest over the top of the ranges is amazingly soft, green and dense, with very low visibility. I had no idea how far ahead Shay was or who might be close behind me. I settled into a good rhythm paying very high attention to my foot placement over the slippery roots. This track could be run very fast, but if I didn’t pay attention I would be flat on the ground even faster!

At last I glimpsed some movement ahead of me and noticed I was right behind Shay, and Chris wasn’t far off either! After making the catch it was time to be a bit more strategic than simply running my own race as I had done up to now. I was keen to pick up the pace but didn’t want to drag the other 2 along with me. Chris had a small fall and I popped past onto Shay’s heels. I didn’t have to make a decision here, because Shay made it for me with a significant increase in pace. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not but we got out of sight of Chris very quickly.

My GPS overlaid onto the topo map. The slow pace in red up past the waterfall is made worse by my GPS losing reception.

My GPS overlaid onto the topo map. The slow pace in red up past the waterfall is made worse by my GPS losing reception. Click for enlargement.

At 12kms the course takes its first long plunge. Here I gave Shay some space so that I could pick my own lines. Shay was very fast down the technical sections which kept me pushing to not lose sight. After a number of small stream crossings it was evident I was not going to pass him if the course stayed this technical right down to the end. Fortunately the second descent is not so technical and I made my move, taking some bigger risks on the slippery clay. The course does a sharp turn after a river crossing and I heard him pass the marshals below me as ripped into a small climb out of the river. I gauged the gap at about a minute and I think I held this through the spectator run-though and onto the start of the last small climb. I focused on staying relaxed and keeping my cadence high up this last climb and could feel that I was still moving well over top and past the 19km marker. I never believed I had the race wrapped up until the course was heading downhill in the last 400 meters, as I don’t know anyone who can match me for speed on gradual downhill trail like this one. I had some stitch problems again at this stage but I was close enough to the finish that I didn’t mind pushing on.
I crossed the line elated at my performance and the result! I ran my own race at the right times and made good moves at the right times too. I won by 2 minutes after stretching out the lead in the final 2km loop and finishing in 1:52:46. Chris had a strong last loop and almost caught Shay who finished in 1:54:50, with just 14 seconds to spare over Chris.

Having a few quick words  at the prize giving.

Having a few quick words at the prize giving.

Also, a huge congratulations to Kat Reynolds for taking out the women’s race in 2:26:38. This victory must have been an amazing reward for someone who has made such an inspirational journey over the past few years.

Moving forward it looks like I won’t be at any trail races until much later in the year, as I have lots of orienteering to attend to including NZ champs in now only 4 days!

JWOC Trials

Masterton hosted the JWOC Trails and the second round of the New Zealand Orienteering Super Series last weekend. This consisted of a middle and sprint on the Saturday and long on the Sunday.

This weekend was another opportunity for me to work on my mental space for racing so I would be taking these races at maximum intensity. This comes at a good time with only 2 weeks until New Zealand Champs. As JWOC coach for this year it was also of interest to me to stay up to date with the progress of the tops juniors who I will be travelling with to Norway later in the year.

The middle distance was raced on a map called Riverside and you can see my GPS below. The high visibility made the navigation relatively easy but there were a few tight control sites where mistakes could happen. I had a messy start by managing to lose the tape to the start triangle – rookie as! – while I was reading the map and also found myself too far left at number one. Number 2 was a bit confusing for a number of people as it was hard to interpret the trees on the spur before the control. I stopped a number of times to double check as I ran across the open land and found myself too far left. 3 was also and tricky because of the micro route choices not visible from the map. The grass on the steep slope was very slippery and finding the good sheep tracks was beneficial but I paid too much attention to my running speed and found myself too high, losing about 10 seconds. From here I had an almost perfect run and was picking up the obvious features to help me simplify my navigation well.

Controls 8 to 14 were by far my favourite part of the course. The contour shapes were more subtle and hard to see from a distance so it was important to reference off the distinctive trees and stony ground where possible as these were more visible. It was important to keep your navigation ahead of your running because relocating in this area could cause issues with so many similar features.

I pushed hard to the end but had a small problem getting the stitch again like last weekend so I was a bit worried about where this might be leading as I have had periods of reoccurring stitches in the past.

I was happy to finish just faster than the JWOC trialists who had the following results:

Boys

1     Tommy Hayes
2     Nick Smith
3     Devon Beckman
4     Cameron Tier
5     Shamus Morrison
6     Matt Goodall
7     Scott Smith
8     Stephen Harding
9     Max Griffiths
10   Connor Cleary
11   David Rawnsley
12   Jonty Oram
13   James Crosby

 

28:07
28:08
29:17
29:36
30:07
30:50
32:27
33:21
33:31
34:25
36:56
37:22
37:50

Girls

1     Danielle Goodall
2     Alice Tilley
3     Sophie Harrison
4     Lara Molloy
5     Kate Salmon
6     Sonia Hollands
7     Katie Cory-Wright
8     Steph Harding
9     Alexandra Riddle
10   Vida Fox
11  Emma Carruthers
Ellie Molloy

 

30:08
32:02
34:32
35:50
36:18
36:20
36:54
39:31
42:32
43:54
44:04
mp

In the afternoon we had the sprint race at Rathkeale College. I thought this was a good sprint race but the forested area could have been avoided as it was much harder to run through than shown, even on some of the small tracks. The race had many twist and turns and small gaps between the buildings which needed to be seen in advance. I got caught out a few times where I was navigating by feel a bit too much and didn’t see the gaps straight away.

My GPS here shows my route and you can see that I made a few hasty decisions near the end when I was thinking about running harder instead of staying focused on the navigation. I prioritised safety in the sense of minimising risks on the bigger route choices which paid off but I am most disappointed about not applying this approach for number 11. Here the forest was shown as slow run with some denser patches, and so it would have been much less risky to run around most of the vegetation and use the path to approach the control from behind. I didn’t manage to beat all of the JWOC trialist this time around and was 17 seconds down on race winner Tommy Hayes, and 14 seconds down on Cameron Tier.

These were the results of the trialists:

Boys

1     Tommy Hayes
2     Cameron Tier
3     Shamus Morrison
4     Devon Beckman
5     Matt Goodall
6     Nick Smith
7     David Rawnsley
8     James Crosby
9     Scott Smith
10   Jonty Oram
11   Stephen Harding
12   Max Griffiths
13   Connor Cleary

 

14:20
14:23
14:40
14:41
15:01
15:05
16:18
16:25
16:30
16:37
16:49
17:34
17:37

Girls

1     Danielle Goodall
2     Sonia Hollands
3     Alice Tilley
4     Sophie Harrison
5     Vida Fox
6     Alexandra Riddle
7     Katie Cory-Wright
8     Kate Salmon
9     Emma Carruthers
10   Steph Harding
11   Lara Molloy
12   Ellie Molloy

 

15:10
15:23
15:34
16:47
17:45
17:50
17:53
18:21
18:23
18:47
19:07
37:42

The Long distance for me was a mix of up and down with 1 very dumb error costing me the win and my pride as overall I placed worse in these races than I did when I was trailing for JWOC in 2011. The race started very well for me. I was focused and felt strong. Even with a significant error at 6, I had built a substantial lead throughout the most challenging part of the course. I had caught Duncan at 13 so knew I was up 4 minutes on him but after taking a sub-optimal rout choice to 14 I was back behind him. A mistake entering 15 and again leaving 15 cost me 20 seconds each, but more crucially it had cost me my good mental state. I got frustrated really quickly as I felt like I deserved to be ahead of Duncan. The big mistake came as I simplified the leg to 16 too much and veered to the left into the wrong group of trees. This cost me 4 and a half minutes. And at the finish I was just over a minute down on the lead. The thing that frustrates me the most is that I could have simply followed Duncan to the finish and won by 3 minutes! A number of others also made a similar error including Shamus who finished 3rd overall.

I think the course was pretty fun and made the most of what the area had to offer.

Here are the results of the trialists:

Boys

1     Nick Smith
2     Cameron Tier
3     Shamus Morrison
4     Tommy Hayes
5     Devon Beckman
6     Matt Goodall
7     Stephen Harding
8     David Rawnsley
9     Scott Smith
10    Jonty Oram
11    Connor Cleary
12    Max Griffiths
13    James Crosby

 

1:03:47
1:03:49
1:04:43
1:05:09
1:06:45
1:10:54
1:15:49
1:17:04
1:17:12
1:18:36
1:19:11
1:19:53
1:28:40

Girls

1     Alice Tilley
2     Sonia Hollands
3     Danielle Goodall
4     Katie Cory-Wright
5     Steph Harding
6     Sophie Harrison
7     Vida Fox
8     Lara Molloy
9     Kate Salmon
10   Emma Carruthers
11   Alexandra Riddle

 

1:01:45
1:02:12
1:02:24
1:08:35
1:10:59
1:13:30
1:14:16
1:14:21
1:15:38
1:27:56
1:28:09