Bell Hill Challenge 2015

This was going to be my first trail race since starting running seriously. Without elites like Tane and Vajin racing I knew I had a chance to place well and hopefully achieve my goal of a top 10 finish.

My Race

“Gps Tracking” of Competitors

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Nick Hann leading out with 213 people behind him.
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Front of the race with Nick in first, eventual winner Ben Aynsley in second and me in third.

The pace was hot from the gun with Nick settling into the early lead. After only  a few hundred metres on the gravel road the gradient went steeply upwards as we hit the main climb. As soon as we left the road some of the stronger adults came past and I began to slip backwards in the pack. I ended up forming a group with two of them. I dropped from 3rd at the bottom down into 7th when we reached the summit as my calves simply could not handle the ascent.

On the way up I lost all feeling in my feet which was unusual, but at least they didn’t hurt. As soon as we started to descend they were fine again. A large chase pack of 5 formed when some of the older guys ahead got confused as to the route down and stopped. Our group of 3 caught them and we continued down together. I established a small 10-20sec lead on the rough descent but that was closed quickly once we hit the flat again. A brief chat determined that our group covered 5th to 9th which meant I was in good company to achieve my top 10 goal.

We ran together for about 10 minutes before one guy decided to attack just after the aid station. He was joined by a masters guy and together they established a gap of around 1 min on the rest of us through the forest loop. Coming back to the aid station at the end of the loop the gap was still about a minute but the masters guy was clearly fading as he was dropped by the other guy and spent much longer at the aid station. From here it was a descent out to the gravel road and then a long slog to the finish. Another guy came past on the descent putting me back into 8th and I decided to let him go since he was running much faster than me. He made a gap of about 50m but over the next kilometer I reeled him back in. Together we pushed the pace hard down the road and caught the masters guy who was staggering along travelling at about 6min/km. I decided that 5th place was too far ahead and so settled back for the sprint finish. With 200m to go I kicked past and went for it, he had nothing left so I finished in 6th, 30 seconds behind 5th and 20 seconds ahead of 7th.

 

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Still running strong at the finish.

Really happy with my race, felt absolutely shattered at the end and couldn’t walk for the next day. Physio visit confirmed torn muscle fibres in my calf so no hard running for a few weeks. Kudos to Nick for finishing in a tight second place after having a bad fall earlier in the race. Bring on Longbeach next week!

 


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South Island Orienteering Champs 2015

South island champs were down in Naseby this year which suited me very well indeed, I loved the physicality of the steep pine forest terrain when I first ran there during Junior Camp in 2013 and I was looking forwards to going back. Boy did the weekend live up to my expectations…

The first day was in a prologue/chasing start format and after a mistake free run in the first event I was seeded 3rd overall for the chasing start, 3 mins behind Nick H, 2 mins behind Chris Forne, with a 3 second lead over Nick S. Having watched Nick H and Chris fly into the forest ahead of me it was my turn. After losing my lead over Nick while attempting to pick up my map I was away, He went past straight away so I just sat in behind him for the majority of the race letting him control the pace and just keeping map contact so I knew where we were. We were clean and fast through the southern section of the map catching a glimpse of Chris as our paths crossed early on.

Control 12 to the finish.

A small error into the 12th control allowed Gene and Shamus to close the gap to us, but a mad sprint by me through the green and past the finish to get to the last control just kept me ahead of them, giving me a 3rd placing overall. Nick was passed by both Gene and Shamus just before the finish to slip back into 6th (Full map)

The next day was the long distance (my favourite) on the main Naseby map, which was where we trained during Junior Camp. I started out cautiously through the first couple of controls, very aware that there could be big time losses among the technical contours.

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My route to control 1

After nailing the first couple of controls I decided to drop low into number 4 around the stream, but the boundary of the forest was unclear around this area so I was unsure of exactly where I was, this lead to about a 2 minute mistake as I tried to relocate and find the control.

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Control 3 – 4

From then onto the map change I ran well and passed some of the female elites that had started on the same course earlier. I made another mistake on the control after the spectator/map change .

Map flip to control 10

I exited the path too early and ended up in the wrong valley costing me around 2 mins after eventually relocating off the vehicle track. I exited the track early again on number 10 and lost 1 minute fluffing around in the green north of the control.

Smooth running through the next 3 controls put me back into a good frame of mind ready to attack the monster 1.6km route choice leg. (Map) I decided to follow the water race for as long as possible as it made for very fast running and then link up some smaller tracks to lead me into the control. This worked well and suited my running speed. I won this leg by just around a minute from Ed and 1:30 from Nick who both took straighter routes through the forest.

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Control 14 – 17

A botched exit direction from 15 cost me a small amount of time but also my good mental state and caused a larger error on the next control. I under ran it and ended up searching in the first open detail area rather than the second, this cost me 2 minutes. After climbing back up to the top of the hill the course went through another technical section.

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Control 19 – 23

I lost about 2 mins through here, just due to a lack of speed through the forest despite nailing each control. From 23 to the finish it was all downhill and with easy controls I was able to run hard without worrying about the map too much. I finished in 3rd, 5:12 behind Ed and 1:50 behind Nick and another 15 mins back to Oliver in 4th.

The final event of the weekend was the middle distance on a new map by Nick Hann. I started 2 minutes behind Stephen and was hoping to catch him out on the course. I ran well for the first section of the course losing a few seconds through the scrappy forest but nothing major. I caught Stephen on the way to number 9 when he took a wide route.

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Big mistake at control 13

We were running together up until 13 when I entered the re-entrant slightly above the control and ran to the road to relocate, whereas Stephen looked left and saw it further down. I ended up doing a big loop before finding it that cost me about 2 minutes. From then on it was a straightforward run along some tracks to the finish. A strong finish was just enough to keep me in 2nd ahead of Stephen who ended up only 12 seconds behind, with Ed 40 seconds clear in 1st. Little bit annoyed that I could have just followed Stephen home for the win rather than ending up in second but still pretty happy with my race (map)

Overall a nice weekend with some good results that I can look to build on in future. Being able to compete with Nick and Ed on a regular basis is not far away. Bring on D squad camp 2k15!