So exactly a week after pulling out of The Hillary with Foot of Doom it’s time for what promises to be a blast with another new race; The Riverhead Rampage. For those that don’t know, Riverhead is north of Auckland and is situated on a lovely lazy old river (estuary?) where there is a historic Tavern (although the food was pretty sucky) and a wonderful brewery called Hallertau (where the beer is AWESOME).
Any race that has the word Rampage in it, has free beer and is sponsored by a brewery plus is run by someone as genuinely great as Matt Rayment is a definite even if I spend the days leading up to it hobbling.
Yeah the foot is a worry ,,,,still painful in a boring, dull, painful way. Not sure what’s up but I had this when I got bad bruising a couple of years ago in training so i’m just hoping its that. End of the day a Dr would say don’t run and like that’s gonna happen….dumb suggestion imaginary Dr.
So up and get some Panadol in me and some Mama Chia (Apple and Cinammon and felt more like a snack than a wonder food) and head north to take on Riverhead.
The weather is beautiful – a late burst of summer as autumn rolls over the isthmus (just wanted to get the word isthmus in there) of Auckland. And I get there waaaay too early I realise as I see Matt running around the roads in an orange fluoro vest doing organising like tasks.
So park at Riverhead School and chill with a bit of Carter USM on the ipod. Old school I know. Popping over to register i’m keen to get me one of the RR trucker caps sported by many and I buy the very last 1 from the head of the women doing race numbers. I confess to her I’ve never actually bought something off someone before but she’s keen and who am I to stop her.
Clutching my new 2nd hand hat, my number 3003, my free beer token and a copy of Super Generic Girl’s new Trail Running magazine I head back to the car til the team assemble. I’d describe giving these magazines to every runner free as a supreme skilful deft piece of marketing – SGG says it is that and also they have no choice they HAVE to have the mag whether they like it or not. So I guess skill in marketing all depends on how you look at it. Blanket bombing is another term I guess. (it’s good though so kiwis go get it – inserted in Wilderness Mag).
Slowly the whanau start assembling and we’re all there – the whole crew – Glenn is injured, i’m injured, SGG is typically injured, Carl is a bit broken by the last 3 weeks and Rodliffe just ran a 34minute 10KM 2 days earlier after ridiculous good finishes in all his races. Situation normal: we’re all set.
(Trail Running Selfie – probably a 1st)
Matt gets us all cued up in the sun with a very Kiwi briefing – seriously i’d love for folks who worry about these things hear some of our briefings in NZ. Harden the fuck up could be used and then someone fires a horn: it’d amount to the same thing – brilliant.
And before we know it we’re off. The 21km is a pretty grunty loop up through private land into forest single track with some sweet technical and clay descents, ugly climbs and undulating running around a ridge (i’d had quite enough by the end of that) combined with some gravel forest roads. The temperature is up and folks seem tired but having a good old blast around the loop. Considering that many many folk are coming down from Tarawera, The Dual, The Hillary or in some cases all 3 it’s fun to be in a race which doesn’t feel like folk might die from exhaustion or have to carry their entire house on their backs.
My run goes so – so. I’m keen to just run it and not do any further damage to the foot. I neck a couple more pain killers before setting off and hope.
I’m just behind Andy and Rob as we climb the first big hill but the foot and my lungs aren’t in it and I drop back. Over the next 18km or so it’s a case of walk the big hills, ignore the foot and then run the downhills and flats ignoring the foot. I’m joined by Forsyth and we make a good yo-yo duo as we pass and pass each other but it’s good to hear his voice and laughter and stop to take pics of him. Definitely calms down my mental state which is screaming to really run this thing and stop being a coward.
As we come down the last hill into the finish I wait up for Forsyth to come alongside so we can run in together – great to be able to cross the line as a pair. The crew are there – Carl is tightening up a bit. SGG gets in and is stoked at no injuries and a good run although she later rolls her ankle at the brewery car park – go figure.
My favourite bit of today was definitely the crew – love the banter, love the group watching out for each other and sharing the odd and crazy thoughts we all have. Nodding at people with bleeding limbs that they didn’t notice, laughing at wet wipes at the end. Love this stuff.
Off to Hallertau Brewery for my reward beer and meet my girls but I never stay around for prize giving (assume they’re all being stored for me somewhere) so it’s off to lunch with a 4 pack of Hallertau Number 2 tucked under my arm, a hobble in my step and big assed grin across my face!