Michael’s Taupo Ultra Race Report

In the first half, don’t be an idiot. In the second half, don’t be a wimp.

Wise words which I attempted to follow.

Leading into the race, I was confident in my base endurance. The swimming and cycling had seen to that. The 5km TT one week before was a big confidence booster. I had tried to follow the program by having double days and intervals for my mid-week runs.

Although my longest run distance wise was 20km and longest time wise 2:40, as Greg my pacer remarked during the run, the Ratapihipihi reserve where I did my long runs was perfect for the course. Therefore, I was confident the body would hold up. The big challenge I felt was to run smart and get my nutrition right.

I had a good sleep the night before. Crashed at 9:30pm, woke up at 3:00am, back to sleep until the alarm at 4:30am. Breakfast was my standard pre exercise smoothie of banana, blueberries, oats and peanut butter.

I used Pure endurance mix together with Pure liquid gels for fuel. I started with two 500ml bottles with the Pure mix and four gels and had three drop bags each with a 750ml bottle of more mix plus four gels.

At the aid stations, I planned to start with bananas and see how I was feeling.

Nutrition wise things went well. I totally forgot about my first drop bag. I passed through the aid station without even realising it. I drank my mix and ate my gels regularly. I started at 30 minute intervals and stretched this out. I did pee a lot the first couple of hours. When one bottle of mix was empty I filled it with water. I ate one piece of banana at every aid station until past Kinloch. I did pick up a Cliff bar but after one nibble decided no thanks. Threw it in the bin at the next aid station. For the last section from Kinloch I had planned to try some coke. But I didn’t see any on the table. I had a Cliff block at each of the two aid stations and Greg gave me jet planes. I think I had a couple during each section between the aid stations.

And the run. My overall impression was that I ran well and finished strong.

I set my watch to show duration only. I did not want to be thinking about my distance or pace.

At the start we were reduced to a walk as everybody entered the single track. As we thinned out and could begin running, I was concerned for a while that I was running at a faster pace than I wished as you were in a procession and could not slow down. But it soon thinned out and I could run at my pace.

In keeping with the “Don’t be an idiot”, I walked all the up hills. And I didn’t bomb the down hills. I thought at one stage I should practice walking up hills more. I tried to march. Walking up the long hill to Whangamata road, a number of people running passed me. I could have run too but stayed walking. I tried to take note of all those running and I am sure, I subsequently passed them all except one.

Arriving at the airport I felt good. The run down the Waihaha had been comfortable. And despite not liking running on farmland, I got to the road section fairly comfortable and actually enjoyed running on the flat sections of the road. But the next section down to Kawakawa Bay was the worst. I do not know if it is the downhill or the race section. On the Tarawera Ultramarathon and Ultra Easy, I struggled for a period after 50km. Looking at the attached heart rate graph from Garmin, my heart rate is up. My quads were hurting on the downhill (and the calves and glutes on the uphill). I managed to run continuously to the Kawakawa Bay aid station. Maybe it was a mental thing and I felt that because it was downhill I should be running better. 

From Kawakawa Bay to Kinloch was good. I walked up the hill and ran the rest. I did have to repeat “Don’t be a wimp” a few times from the Lisland Road aid station to Kinloch Hall to keep running. However, I still felt reasonably comfortable running on the flat. 

From Kinloch to the finish was also good. Walking up the hills was fine. I could even have conversations with my pacer. Not sure if this is wise but I could walk and talk. In addition, I managed some periods of sustained strong running when it was flat. I was surprised that I managed to run the last downhill section to the stile. Maybe my legs had recovered a bit. Alternatively, it was the jet planes. I knew it was coming and was expecting to struggle. Alternatively, maybe it was the girl behind who was one of the people who passed me on the long hill and who I subsequently passed but who caught up just before the last downhill. However, we left her behind and ran to the finish.

Before the race, I said if I was under 12 hours I would be ecstatic and if I was over 13 hours I would be disappointed. I now think that was unrealistic. I am happy how I ran. Except for choosing to walk uphill, I never walked when I could be running.

Although I am sore, I do not believe I have injured anything. My right glute was a bit more than uncomfortable at the start but was fine until everything started hurting.

Note for future. Wear gloves at start. My hands were very cold and took about an hour to warm up.

Hingarae Road 3:52:11
Airstrip 2:19:37
Kinloch 3:27:46
Whakaipo Bay 3:27:45
Finish time: 13:07:18