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Mt Isthmus Traverse Race Report

After a couple of postponements it was amazing to finally get down to Wanaka for the Mt Isthmus event. What a beautiful part of NZ, how could you not have a great time running around out there.

I was down to run the 44km Mountain Marathon and was looking forward to a hard but epic day out. Unfortunately my body had other ideas and after waking at 3am with a stonking headache and hugging the toilet bowl on and off race morning, I realised I was not going to be able to pull off such a big run.

Looking a tad washed out, with just half a cup of tea and a banana in my tummy, I made the decision to change my entry at the race registration to the 27km event. I really wanted to get out there and have some fun and make the most of the opportunity to run somewhere I had never been. With the knowledge that the aid stations were really close together and that there was plenty of Tailwind out on course, I was confident I could get myself around the run safely.

So not ideal conditions, but sometimes that stuff just happens and you have to reset your goals and carry on the best you can. My main plan was to keep on top of my nutrition and run what I could, it was hot out and I was dehydrated before we even started, so nutrition was going to be key.

We started out along a gravel road, which quickly changed into some fun, ankle busting, grass covered rocks, thank goodness it was just a short section! This part of the course took us along the lakeside and was really pretty, I love running next to water. We eventually popped out onto a short road section, which took us along to the start of the hilly loop part of our run. The terrain was wide farm track, so easy to navigate and some good ups and downs to keep things interesting. As I was not expecting to run the shorter distance I had no idea what the elevation was for this run, which made it kind of fun. We eventually hit the split in the courses and I looked over at the rather large mountain the 44km runners had to go up, I had made the right call to change distances! Eventually we hit the big climb, Heartbreak Hill. It was a bit like the Tip Track for us Welly runners, just shorter, phew! I got my legs working hard and power walked up, passing a few runners along the way. Something I have noticed since incorporating strength work into my training is I have pretty good power when it comes to hills, it feels good to be strong and gives me a real boost in confidence.

I was feeling good at the top, the headache I started with was no worse, and I was keeping on top of my Tailwind and making sure I was getting through 500ml every hour. The next section was some fun downhill with the most amazing views, the mountains, the water, every direction was breathtaking. Once at the bottom there was a bit more farmland, before we popped back onto the course to head back to the start. I was dreading the road section again as it had a bit of a gradual climb to it, but actually it was not so bad and my legs still felt pretty good.

The final section was back along by the lake for a bit and then over the ankle busting rocks again, it was harder this time on tired legs and I took my time to avoid wiping out. Finally we were back on the gravel road and crossing the finish line.

Thanks to my running buddy Carolyn, for keeping an eye on me out there and to all the awesome marshals and event staff who made the race so enjoyable. Also a shout out to RD Adrian, it is clear you have a real passion for running events. The race was really well marked and had ample aid stations, it's one of the best I have taken part in.

I felt a mixture of pride and disappointment when I had finished. I was stoked that I had made it around the course after the rough morning, but just a bit gutted I wasn't able to give the marathon a nudge. I guess I will have to come back and give it another crack!


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