The week leading up to the race I was checking the weather on the daily. There was rain forecast and it was making me anxious. I had already decided if it was cold, wet and windy I would not be starting the 62km. I am pretty confident being cold and wet out in the elements for 9ish hours is not something I can handle.
As it happens the RD made the difficult decision to cancel the ultra and marathon distances and give everyone the option to run 21km instead.
I decided to give the 21km a crack. I had a heap of gear and backed myself to get through the course in about 3 hours, bearable in the conditions, right?
As I waited for our race to begin, I noticed I didn’t have my usual pre-race excitement. I mean I am normally really relaxed at the start line, but this was different, I wasn’t able to muster any smiles and I was uneasy. I was in the first group of runners due to my ultra entry and so headed along the south coast beach in the first group to start the 21km. It was actually quite nice along the beach, sheltered from most of the wind, just a bit of rain. I kept my head down to block out the rain and settled into an easy pace, happy to follow along behind the runners in front.
Once we headed off the beach, we were faced with a couple of river crossings. I have done these before and they are normally not even enough to get your feet wet. However today, they were raging for us. We formed a human chain and managed to get across, the water was thigh deep on me and strong. Not long after we went through the course was diverted and the river crossings were canned.
From here we had some good uphill sections, taking us up onto the ridge, which is where the fun really started. Those gale winds, I can confirm are strong when you are up that high. Then you combine them with the rain and it’s like someone is throwing a heap of pins into your face. I pulled my thir around over my face and my hood down low to try and give myself a bit more protection. My body was hunched low and there was even a patch where I ran with another runner with our arms around each other’s waists so we didn’t blow over.
There was a fair bit of climbing up and down before we got up onto the Tip Track. It was still pretty fierce coming down and there was so much water running down with us too. I was taking my time, no point in being a hero out there in those conditions. The next section was Tawatawa, which was basically one big stream for the whole track, followed up by a slippery muddy downhill on the other side. I picked my way down, ignoring all the runners coming through fast past me like they stole something. Like seriously don’t look so agitated you have to wait for a few seconds at the pedestrian crossing, it is there for your safety and now you have made me frown even more than I was already.
Next up was the aid station, about 15km in. I decided to change my gear and hid under the shelter as much as possible and wrangled with new gear and sticky wet skin. I put my jacket back on and instantly thought I shouldn’t have bothered, I felt just as cold, actually even colder. I grabbed a new beanie and put my gloves on to try and warm up a bit.
The last 6km I ran exhausted, physically and mentally. I had let myself get cold and I felt like all of my energy just left my body. The bits I could normally run were like mountains, I was shuffling, frowning even more and counting down the km’s. The last section through Mt Vic was nice and sheltered and a lovely break from the wind, but it was also crazy slippery and I was happy to just pick my way along. Then it was just the very familiar last little hill up to the finish line.
I crossed relieved that I had made it, 21km which is something I can usually easily run felt like an ultra. My legs were absolutely dead and I was shattered.
Congratulations to everyone who completed the run yesterday, I am sure there will be people who absolutely loved it and those that perhaps didn’t have the best day out there like me. Fingers crossed Wuu2k 2022 is a mint day, as I have 100% confirmed 21km is my absolute limit for battling the elements and I am going to need a good day to try for that 62km again. The Wuu2k is still one of my favourite races, it will take more than an average day out to change that.
Special thanks to all the wonderful volunteers standing out in the storm all day to make sure we were all safe, thank you, thank you!