Stride for success is a running race put on by the University of Auckland with the goal of financially assisting top runners at the University. Currently this is just in the form of prizes and prize money but it is hoped that it will grow big enough that more significant funding can be given out from this event. There are 2 sections to this event with an Elite Individual race first and a 3 hour relay race afterwards. We had 12 of us from the orienteering crew keen to race so we entered a full team of 10 into the relay and Imogene and myself ran the individual race. The course was a cool loop around Albert Park and some of the University with the event centre on Old Government House Lawn.
My individual race started at 8:30 so I had to get up at some silly hour to eat and then had another snooze before driving into town. I had no idea how many people were going to run the race or whether many fast people would come but the event organisers had done a good job in getting some pretty good track runners to race. The race started like an 800 which I thought was pretty crazy so I stuck to my strengths and raced my own for the first lap. I passed all but 1 of the people who started out fast which is always satisfying.
I had 5 laps of the 2km loop which consisted of as much hills as possible and plenty of twisting and turning on the paths and though the buildings. The hardest parts for me were the false flats were I felt that I should be running faster but the slight uphill incline was enough to slow me significantly. QuickRoute shows the slower patches from my GPS in red (the course goes anti-clockwise). Some of the red patches on corners are more likely to be errors with the GPS especially in the buildings.
The seconds lap was much more settled and I worked on hunting down the runners ahead and moved into 4th place on the second lap. I was overtaken for a short time but only by a few metres which was good as we paced each other well. As soon as I felt the pace slow slightly coming into Albert Park for the 3rd time I decided to make my move. I sprinted into the downhill to get a small gap and then attacked the sharp climb to get clear. I hoped this was enough to be slightly demoralising for the other runner but he faded away in the last lap anyway.
I could see the runner in 3rd fading in the last 2 laps and I got about 20 seconds on him in the 4th lap which was extremely motivating. I could see him looking back frequently in the last lap and I got very close after launching myself around Albert Park for the last time. I could see him running much slower than me on the slight incline leaving the park but he had enough energy left for a strong final 400 and put a few seconds on me through the buildings. It was a good crack at taking the $100 prize money off him but only got to within 10 seconds and probably would have needed a 5 second buffer to avoid a sprint finish.
I ran a pretty good race considering I haven’t done speed work for ages and given the 10,000 metre times of the guys I was racing against I’m happy with my placing. I raced to my strengths and my legs responded well to the changing pace around the course. I didn’t feel tired so yesterday’s easy session did its’ job.
I stayed around to watch the Auckland University Orienteering Club team smash the relay starting at 10:30. The goal was to run as many laps as possible in the 3 hours given which made for some very exciting watching and some strategic planning. Tom Reynolds and Matt Ogden walked away the fastest times of the day closely followed by Ed Lawley, who’s team finish in second place, 1 lap behind.