For some reason on another there is usually an Orienteering event on the same weekend as Loop the Lake, but this year no such clash. Perfect opportunity to do it! I was a bit slow off the mark with entering and had to go on the wait list… I had almost given up hope and even planned on doing the Three Peaks race instead, but my luck came right and a spot opened up.
The weather was set to be pretty nasty and I was prepared for a wet cold run around the lake but as it turned out although it was cold and damp it was far from miserable. The question before the start became, to wear a jacket or not? A brief shower was enough to put doubt in my mind on the no jacket option, but I stuck with it. Eventually the race got underway and right from the start one guy shot off straight to the front and powered up the road, he flew up the hill. I chased after him slotting into second, but he was flying out the front! I figured he probably couldn’t keep it up but once at the top of the hill this turned into “I hope he can’t keep it up!” as I was feeling a little tired already. Unfortunately for him I was right and a little further up the road I passed on the flat gravelly bit. He stuck with me on the slight uphill, but when it came to the downhill into West Bay he fell back. I started to feel comfortable here and was able to run at my own pace in the front.
The worst part of this race I felt was going to be the road bit before heading into the forest. Surprisingly I quite enjoyed this bit and managed to put a comfortable gap on the chasers before heading of the road and onto the single track. I really enjoyed this track, especially down by the lake although I misjudged one rock and managed to bash my knee on it on the up step. Sweet, a little bit of blood, wouldn’t be a real race without some sort of cut or scratch to show for it!
As I neared Coldwater hut my Hamstring stopped hurting and now my calf muscle started to make some noises. I took it easy for a bit and hoped for a little uphill to stretch it out. Thankfully it wasn’t long to wait and the short uphill stretch seemed to do the trick. I passed the first group of walkers along the hillside shortly before the decent into Coldwater hut. I was pretty confident I had a nice lead here and was really looking forward to the short trip across the river. It was nice out in the open and the sun was out briefly as I crossed the flats.
After the brief respite from the forest, it was back down the other side of the lake on the home straight. It was a really enjoyable track, flat-ish a little bit technical, and interesting just perfect for me. It wasn’t too long before the track got a bit more smoothed out and the crowds started to appear in the forest, as the track got nicer my legs carried me a little bit faster. With one kilometer to go there was one little hill to get over followed by a very fast decent into the finish. It seemed like there was heaps of people in the trees over the last hundred meters and especially cool to have a bunch of kids there cheering me on! It wasn’t until I was finished I realised how big a lead had put over 2nd place. It was 7mins before Kevin O’Donnell came in, shortly followed by Ian Reeves. A little dip in the lake did wonders for the legs afterwards but it cooled off pretty quickly. Somehow the race seemed happen during the best weather of the day.
It was a really fun race around the lake and nice to do a trail/Mountain run with not so much climb or decent. I was a little tired still from last weekend and the NZ Mountain running champs, but pleased I maintained a good pace with little damage to the body!