The planned 70km Kauri Ultra in NZ didn't work out as planned - the Ultra start at Fletchers Bay on the extreme tip if the Coromandel Peninsula proved to be extremely difficult to reach in the large 3t campervan we had hired for the week, and the last 40km on winding single-lane dirt roads that clung to the coast line proved a nerve-wracking experience in a long, wide vehicle that we weren't familiar with driving. Coupled with hamstring pain that made the 70km distance a dicey proposition, and with a DNF further exacerbating the driving issues that the family would face on race day, I decided that the logistics weren't in place for an enjoyable day , and made the hard call not to start the race.
After a very full and satisfying year of racing, the potential downsides of the Kauri race (both for the hamstring and the campervan) just weren't worth it.
Rather than sulk about the race, the ten days in NZ proved to be an awesome running experience. The hamstring handled shorter runs fine (especially when coupled with a bit of Voltarin gel and tablets thrown into the mix), and I got some awesome runs in which I'll cover in the next few posts.
The time back from NZ has comprised of two weeks off running entirely, with plenty of kayaking and mountain biking mixed in to keep fit. With the two weeks totally off now completed, the legs feel much better, and while its disappointing that I won't hit 5000km for the year (current total is 4620km), the rest has been great and really places me in great shape for a shot at a sub-12 TNF100.
I'm easing back into the running over the next two weeks, and then its 6 weeks of a 10km program before getting back into the longer stuff for a solid 12 week block over Feb-Apr in preparation for the TNF100 on 19 May.
Rotorua Trail Runs
In Rotorua, like many other "adventure cities", good trail runs can be hard to find. Mountain biking seems to capture all the attention for the self-powered activities, and sponsored adventure sport like jet boats dominate tourist bureau information. Despite the lack of information, Rotorua features a number of great trails locations - the Mt Ngongotaha Jubilee Track and the Whakarewarewa Forest Redwoods.
The Mt Ngongotaha Jubilee Track is a well maintained pure mountain trail, starting at around 380m elevation and climbing up to about 750m over the 2.5km length (something like a 15% average grade). The trail conditions are great - its all run-able, and provides a great test of stamina. It took me around 22 minutes for the two ascents I did and about 14 minutes on the way down.
In contrast to the tough running conditions on the Jubilee Track, the Redwoods offer wonderful, rolling running conditions with a network of trails of various lengths. While primarily a mountain bikers hang-out, the Redwoods also has plenty of runners hitting the trails and as can be seen on their website, there is a heap of options.
I went for a run with Jess on the Redwood Memorial Grove track - its great to run with her, and we try and get out once a week for a couple of kilometers together. Jess had a fantastic two-loop run with an average pace faster than 8.00km/min, and narrowly missed beating her younger brother home on his one-loop effort.