The Total Sport race named The Dual takes in both Motutapu and Rangitoto Islands and is a tough test.
The last time I ran I really shouldn't have... that was in 2012 and was the week after I had completed the 60km Tarawera Ultra, what a bloody idiot idea that was. I had felt really good in the few days after the Ultra so, as I had a free entry as part of a Total Sport Summer Series Pass, I thought I might as well.
I remember feeling pretty good for the first kilometre an then dying a rapid death. It was a real struggle that day just to finish in 2:49 and 3rd to last in my age group!
So I was looking forward to - hopefully - putting a few things to right on this run!
The day starts out with a Ferry ride from downtown Auckland over to the island, which is very pleasant and a nice way to relax and get the head in the right place.
The race starts out on Motutapu Isalnd with a steady climb up a gravel hill road for exactly 100m vertical climb (2.3km running distance) before diving off over a bit of farmland and back down to sea level for the crossing to Rangitoto at 4km.
Then it is more gravel access roads for 4km of consistent climbing where we went from near-on sea level to 183m, then, just past the summit we dived off into single-trail. At the summit I came across my lovely friend Vera Alves who had pulled he plug in her run - not too surprising as she had run Tarawera the week before. The downhill trail though is not like any other trail you will run in NZ (that I know of), because you are on to volcanic scoria and it varies from smooth to extremely rugged and sole-bruisingly rough - that's the soles of your feet, although the soul gets a test as well.
I was finding it tough, but coping. It was this long scoria section from the top of Rangitoto to the crossing that killed me last time, so I was happy to cope a bit better this time... but it was still a real tough struggle. Once back to the sea you follow the trail around the edge of the island to the crossing. The views would be great except that it was really hurting!
Back onto Motutapu and a slightly different farm route this time, with more serious climbing and catching and passing a few friends running different distances. I knew I was in the last few km's and gave it my traditional last few km's burst passing several runners from my race as well.
The funniest part was the big descent to the finish, it is quite a steep switchback track with some treacherous footing at times... but loving downhills as I do and seeing a couple of runners from my race a gave it a burst and passed them both. Then down onto the last 200m stretch to the finish one of the ladies put on the sprint and started to pass me... the ol' grit was still there tho and up onto my toes I sprinted back past to lead her over the line and then I promptly tripped on one of the timing mats and finished on my face...she quickly pointed out that it was karma for beating her!
In the end though I finished in 2:22... 27 minutes faster than the previous effort and finished 7th in the Vets... happy with that!.
The ferry back was shared with Forsyth Thompson, Vera, Glenn Goldie and Carl Southgate... a very pleasant time where we shared lies about the race and tried not to look tired! Another one done and getting close now!