I’m really happy to have won all races at Auckland Champs this weekend. The field was quite small unfortunately but the attendance of some top juniors and Ross Morrison meant that I couldn’t get cocky. I knew my running form was good but I hadn’t been navigating well in my past few races so I had something to prove to myself at least.
The sprint race was held in Thames on Saturday morning. The course was quite tricky with many short legs in detailed buildings. I made a number of small errors throughout the course where I wasn’t planning ahead enough and my running caught up to my navigation. I was getting distracted by some things around me and really struggled to get into the zone. Most of the field lost time on the 3rd last control by assuming is was on the bridge, whereas it was actually on the grass below the bridge. Tommy Hayes had a clean run and finished only one second behind me while Ross lost too much time near the end of the course and finished half a minute down.
The middle distance was also a tricky course in the low visibility forest of ‘Plantation Farm’. I haven’t raced here for a few years so I was happy to get another chance but the map definitely needs some work. My running was very strong and my navigation was mostly good with the exception of losing contact on the way to control 9 and a small mistake at 14. I stayed focused on my compass because it was very easy to drift in the forest with many fallen down trees and steep slopes. On number 14 I made a mess of and easy leg by focusing too much on my running. I relocated off the wrong bend in the stream on the way up the valley and so ran up the steep slope too early. The main time loss was because running along the hill side was very slow but I knew if I kept going I would hit the fence and then the control. I finished with a time more than 7 minutes faster than Carsten and Ross to take the win.
The long distance was raced on a brutal new map at Kawakawa bay. Most of the terrain made for easy navigation but the patches of forest were tricky and many of the controls were in some very sharp re-entrants making them hard to see until the last few meters. The main challenge was of course the highly physical terrain. I think I was just fit enough to handle the hills for the length of the race but at the high intensity I was pushing I didn’t have much energy left.
I made a bad mistake at the first control which put me 3 minutes behind the others very early on but I forgot about that quickly and focused on the race ahead of me and was in the lead by control 6, at the end of a very interesting leg where I think Ross chose the fastest route. Ross and I were still very close at 17 but I manage to put time into him on 18 and 20 which both had significant climbs. I put another minutes into Ross down to 24 to finish with a lead of 3 minutes.
I really enjoyed the challenge of this long distance and there was a lot to think about in order to consistently choose the fastest route. I also love the physical challenge of these massive hills, especially now that I am strong enough to keep pushing hard for the entire length of a long distance.
The next fixture on my calendar is South Island Champs in 3 weeks where there will be a really strong field with most of the elite runners in New Zealand competing.