Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Tussock Traverse - Race Report

On Friday afternoon we drove down to National Park in the central North Island where the pre-race registration was being held.  Here's a few road trip shots for fun:

1, 2 and 4 - Somewhere between Te Kuiti and Taumarunui
3 -  Progress being made in the knitting department!
5- Tussock Traverse signboard outside Taumarunui
6 - Latitude 39 South sign, Owhango
7 - Sunset on Mt Ruapehu
I picked up my race pack and went through a gear check on Friday night.  Even though the forecast was fine and warm, we were still in a a mountain environment and had to carry water, a thermal top, beanie and a wind/rainproof jacket - just in case you get stranded out on the course for a while with a broken ankle or something.  And we received a cute tussock seedling in our race pack to plant at home as a memoir!

I counted my Icebreaker Tech T as the thermal top and actually wore it on the day - it was perfect for the warm-but-not-humid conditions.  I rolled the jacket and beanie up tightly and tucked it into the bungee cord on my Camelbak belt where I never even noticed them during the race.  The belt however, jiggled and bounced around, and caused my Tshirt to keep riding up and I kept having to pull it down and I even heard a race bib safety pin rip it at one stage - despite this sort of thing not happening in training.  After a kilometre or so of hitching and adjusting I thought this was not going to work for thirteen kilometres, and I was tempted to ditch it until I realised that it just needed tightening a notch... ;)

Apart from fiddling with my fuel belt, the first kilometre was a long queue with everyone juggling for position until a natural hierarchy formed and the line gradually spread out.  The run pretty much involved ascending ridges and descending to mountain streams the whole way, on a packed gravel track with a few steps, rocky areas, scrub and bridges thrown in for good measure.

Around the 9km mark we descended steeply through some native bush to the Taranaki Falls where I think I was so run-happy hopping around like a mountain goat that I may even have yelled out WOO-HOO while jumping off a rock at one stage!

Can I tell you a secret?  I love picking people off as you run the last half of the race! (I try to emphasise this to myself as runners usually pass me during the first half of the race!)  The best places are 'technical' areas where many runners are concentrating on preserving their ankles, but if you concentrate at rock hopping you can overtake with relative ease. I overtook three runners close to the finish just by going through the puddle instead of around it!

This of course, was before I tripped.  Yes.  In the shady bush my shoe clipped a root and in spectacular fashion I hit the ground horizontal skidding forwards with both arms outstretched, and I have grazes on both palms and knees to prove it.  All minor, but it tweaked my back a bit and shook my confidence for a while.  It happened so suddenly the girl running behind me gasped "OMG, are you alright?" I assured her I was fine and replied that maybe this was a good excuse for me to splash out on some new trail shoes ;)  She laughed and agreed, and I know you all definitely agree too, so I am going trail shoe shopping next weekend.

There was some unwelcome uphill before the finish which I power walked as I was starting to feel it, and I didn't feel too guilty because everyone else was too.  Then it was a narrow rocky track and a hop skip and jump through thigh-high scrub down to the finish where.....

Steven was waiting camera in hand for a finishing line photo!

I finished in 1:42:01 - 42nd female out of 113, just sneaking into the top 36%.  My current aim is to finish in the top third so I wasn't far off - maybe I could push myself a bit more especially at the start where I am always afraid of going out too fast.

We stayed around for the awards and spot prizes, and watched the first few runners arrive in from the 26km event.

Then we headed up the road towards Taupo, and I devoured a delicious Em's Power Cookie Bar on the way:

...then stopped to photograph the steam escaping from the crater that erupted recently on Tongariro:

...had a nice post-run ice bath in Lake Taupo to ease my shattered legs:

...ate a hearty meal while enjoying the view south to the volcanic plateau:

... then retired to nether nether land dreaming I was Anna Frost the second...

... and awoke to sore quads and dirty shoes!


  1. How will trail shoes help you pick your feet up higher than roots? :)

    1. Haha, I just want a pair and need an excuse to buy - any excuse!

  2. Beautiful place for a run! Glad you had a good time and hope the soreness goes away soon. Great recap.

    1. Thanks Christy, my quads took three days to get back to normal!

  3. So beautiful! I would love to do a trail race at some point, although I'm sure I would also be tripping and falling. :)

    1. You must try a trail race Laura, they are such fun! The fall taught me to take extra care during the latter stages when my legs are tired!

  4. I had to google where this race was, your post and pictures sold me on it!!! Wow one to add to my list of "one day", I have always wanted to visit New Zealand, so running a race at the same time would just be a great bonus! Congratulations on your run!!!

    1. Doing a race on your travels is a great idea, and trail races are usually so scenic! The girl who won the event was over on holiday from Australia.

  5. The seedling is unique. One of the most unique items I've been given at a race was an avocado. Great job on the race!

  6. What an amazing looking run and great job on your finish time! I can't beleive you wouldn't want to crawl along at a snails pace just to take in the scenery!!


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