After something like Godzone its always good to have the next race locked in, something to focus on, get your head back in the game and stave off the post race blues so there wasn’t much better target than the Alpine Lodge Loop the Lake! I had run it and won it a week after the NZ Mountain running champs 4 years ago for it was fair time I came back and raced around again. Since there is no big hills its a perfect introduction to some technical trail running.
Escaping from Christchurch is always a nightmare, and I delayed our getaway somewhat with a bit of dis-organisation, anyway Isla and I eventually rolled into St Arnard to meet our advanced party (who had all gone to bed) not too late in the evening. Lucky for us the morning start was at a leisurely 9:15am so it was possible to get in a good nights sleep before the race.
Hanging around the start line I saw a few familiar faces, a few people looking fast and a lot of people not looking that warm! Perfect conditions for running. I made my intentions know right from the start and went straight to the front. I wanted to get out the front so when I hit the technical stuff I was out of sight of the chasers. The first few k’s I could hear a few footsteps behind, but gradually they faded and I was right where I wanted to be in the lead, out on my own.
I was most looking forward to cruising along the technical section along the side of the lake, and with such calm and cool conditions I got really excited maintaining my speed and momentum across the rocks, up and down the tree roots. It is my favorite type of running, and I was having heaps of fun!
At the head of the lake a few of the marshals wanted me to slow down to see my number and hand me some lollies, but I wasn’t too keen to hang around for too long either, probably giving the impression that I was in a hurry or something! This year there was a couple of braids of the river to cross at the turn around point. I attacked them with a good bit of urgency, trying to maintain the visual gap of the chasers behind, turns out a little bit too much urgency and went for a full on superman trip into the river! Wet and a little embarrassed I trudged past the hut and made my way quickly into the forest and out of sight.
Cruising down the other side of the lake was totally different to the upside, still with some really fun and technically challenging little terrain problems but a lot faster and flatter. There was a lot more people on the track this way, tramping, walking, marshaling and spectating. By the way, Thanks to all those who cheered me on, sorry I couldn’t acknowledge or thank you at the time, it really did make a difference! In the end the 1km marker came up sooner than I was expecting and before I knew it I was in and across the line to take the win. Pretty happy with that result, off the back of Godzone, I had a plan, executed it well and achieved what I set out to do with a smile on my face at the same time.
The gap back to Matt Jeans in 2nd place was just on 4 minutes, an excellent run by Matt and well deserved result, he had come back from about 11th place going into the single track and gradually pulled himself up to second place by the finish line. I had a 3 minute gap at the top of the lake and only managed to increase it by 1 minute on the way back in, so he must have had a really good second half! Once Matt was in, it wasn’t long until the flood gates opened and they started coming in thick and fast with a good number of people coming in under the two hour mark this year!
After a quiet afternoon and evening the sun came out to play the next morning, and so did the Mountain bikes, so there was just enough time to squeeze in a cool little ride around the tracks at teetotal flats. There was a heap of tracks in there and more than enough to keep us distracted for a few hours before the long drive back to Christchurch.
Thanks to Bivouac Outdoor, Inov8 and Cycleways