Sunday was race 2 of the Auckland Xterra series and took us to the hills of Waitawa Regional Park in Clevedon, East Auckland. This one felt like a home race which was really cool, only approx 10 kilometres from where we live – and Shaun and I have dreams about one day living out here and being country folk. Imagine having all those hills and trails on your literal doorstep! A dream..
Josh was the biggest surprise of the day. First thing in the morning he was true to teenage form and absolutely didn’t want to do it. I have learned to just ignore these little gripes and moans and rebuff them with an alarmingly always positive tone of, “Oh, you will enjoy it once you get there and you’re running / you will love competing and beating some of the other racers.” I would have found myself infuriating at the same age, which is of course all the fun of doing it to my own son.
They also provide you with the best motivation, because even if sometimes you also feel like they do on the inside, you can never show it, so you just have to lead by example, smile widely and pretend you’re going to love it! The car journey there he was planning his race strategy and proclaimed that he was going to walk the whole thing. I suggested he run with me and keep it steady, he agreed to this after bribing him with a hot chocolate from the lovely hot drink vendors at registration. And of course what actually happened is that on about kilometre 3 Josh dropped me and sped off up the hills, ran the whole way and gassed himself with a sprint down the finish line. He ran a great race and was buzzing from the endorphins afterward. He proclaimed Waitawa the best course yet and he was even looking forward to Waiuku in 3 weeks time. He was seriously pleased with himself for whizzing past a bunch of older teenage boys that looked like they were done for on kilometre 7.
We pull up in Shaun’s 4WD to get us safely in (and out again!) of the paddock if the rains come. The weather was actually fairly mild, especially compared to the rather brutal cold winds we faced down in Whangaparoa. Up on Waitawa the winds were calm and the rain stayed away. Once we scavenged new race numbers – yes, we were the silly people who forgot to keep our original numbers from race 1 – and got ourselves a hot drink, it was time for some warm up stretches and to make our way to the start line. My go-to stretches pre-run are usually some lunges, some hip swings, some high knees and hip rotations. I like to warm up my calves because they can often give me grief. Shaun and Josh, it has to be said are not quite so diligent about their warm up routine!
The race starts along a 400m downhill stretch of road. This is a little narrow and means you have to jostle for position. After starting about half way back in Whangaparoa we all decided to head closer to the front to no get caught in the inevitable bottleneck. Shaun was off at the gun and Josh and I hustled along together for the first few kilometres of undulating trail up and over the mountain bike trails and down toward Clevedon-Kawakawa road. Josh then found his runners legs and on the third or so climb dropped me and sped off. This really is a wonderful trail run, plenty of hills interspersed with mountain bike trails, windy narrow and forested native bush and some absolutely stunning views of the Frith of Thames along the three peaks.
Oh, and don’t listen to the cheerful lady giving encouraging support around kilometre 8, she tries to tell you only one hill to go… Ha! The last section involves some sea-swept trails hugging the coastline and some smaller climbs that give way to one brutal final climb that reduced most of us to a determined walk and some to a grovel! What a relief to enjoy a speedy downhill to the finish line, and we enjoyed ourselves so much on the trails that we all had a sprint over the line. Legs feeling the burn after all that, we collected our hot chips and Vita sparkling juices and cheered on the remaining finishers with heartfelt cheer! Such a fantastic event, we can’t wait for round three in Waiuku, even Josh is excited for it 😊
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