Mt Oxford Odyssey 21km
Initially down for the 33km event, I made the decision a couple weeks out, to drop down to the 21km after a slow recovery from covid. My running buddy Anna was pretty happy with the swap too, our weekend away was all about trying a new event and having an adventure out on the course together, so the 21km sounded way more fun! We arrived at the event in the dark, parking up on a paddock in our tiny little rental car, all the parking sensors beeping as we parked and we crossed our fingers we wouldn’t get stuck later. After a cold night on Friday, it was surprisingly warm as we walked up to the event start/finish area, great news after a restless night worrying about freezing up the mountain. I am a pathetic in the cold, really, really pathetic. Once at the event hub we registered, got all our gear checked and then packed our vests ready to adventure. After an extensive race and safety briefing (love your work MOO) we were off! Up along some paddocks and straight into a river crossing. The pack zoomed off and we were right at the back from the start, which we had a laugh about – these South Island runners are serious! The first 4km was pretty fun running, some great ups and downs, loads of mud and gorgeous bush, we settled into any easy pace. Then the climbing began, we knew it was coming and it did not disappoint. I love the challenge of a steep climb; the Run Club workouts have given me good strong climbing legs and I felt great going up. As we got closer to the summit it started to get pretty cold and the wind picked up, so we stopped and changed out our top layers to fresh thermals and added jackets, plus I put on my gloves and hat. The summit seemed to always be just a little bit further and the climbing got just a bit steeper before we popped out on top and found the hardy marshals waiting. It was howling and cold so we said a quick hello and thank you, got our race numbers checked off and carried on along the ridge. At this point I was close to adding another base layer but we decided just to move as quickly as we could and hopefully, we would be off the ridge pretty soon. The wind was no worse than Welly in strength but it was freezing and it doesn’t take long to whip away your warmth. We were right, the track dropped down pretty quickly and we were out of the wind again, enjoying some awesome downhill trail. Just as gnarly as the uphill, this section was so much fun. Crazy steep in places where my short legs meant I had to scoot down on my butt and there were more thick mud puddles to navigate. Once the really steep section finished, we were greeted by more ups and downs and some flattish sections that were also thick with mud, we squished and laughed our way through, trying to stay upright. Finally, we popped down off the trail and made it back to farmland, the finish line was just around the corner and we were so happy! We ran down the finish line shoot together and were greeted by everyone waiting for prize giving to start, it was a tad embarrassing but we were just stoked to have crossed the line after an epic run. This race is hard, the terrain is challenging and there are lots of sections that are difficult to run due to the steepness. We were super happy to have dropped to the shorter distance, it was plenty. Thanks to Tailwind Nutrition NZ for the opportunity to run in this event and for fueling us out there and to the Mt Oxford Odyssey organisers and marshals, it was an epic adventure.