This was a tough race, and my big challenge was just to finish the thing.
The start was at 7am on Saturday at Thames. It was just getting light as the field of about 120 (including teams and individuals) set off for the first 22km mountain bike.
At the end of the MTB ride, my support crew (my wife Yoshiko, and my Mum) grabbed my bike and helped me get ready for the run.
The first run was 27km over the pinnacles. A spectacular course with great views and lots of challenging terrain.
Parts of it were very muddy...
And there were several river crossings (which at least cleaned my shoes!)...
The water was cold and clear - and probably would have tasted great, if it hadn't been stirred up by dozens of sweaty runners charging through it.
At the end of the first run, I was pretty bloody tired and my legs were really sore from running down the hill because I hadn't done enough running training. When I finally reached the finished I was soooo relieved to be able to sit down, ice my injured knee, and eat something.
My ever-helpful support crew, and a couple of other supporters who were waiting for their runner to arrive, bundled me into my kayak and off I went for the 17km paddle to Cooks Beach.
The arrival at Cooks Beach was spectacular - with high sandstone cliffs, and a reasonable swell which meant that several of the competitors in narrow racing kayaks went for a swim! For once I was glad of my slower, but much more stable, sea kayak.
Despite having been completely shattered at the end of the run, by the time I got to the end of the kayak leg I was refreshed and full of energy. I grabbed a bite to eat, a quick massage to ease those aching calves...
...(and a quick toilet stop - dammed hard to go when kayaking!) and headed off on the final 30km road ride to Tairua. Final for Saturday that is - there's still Sunday to come!
When I finished at Tairua, I was on such an amazing high! I don't know how that happened, but throughout the day I had been from very very low, to feeling totally elated.
I met up with my support crew - who had been joined by my step brother Craig - and we went to the Tairua bowling club for a) a beer (for the support crew) and b) a massage (for me)
(Yoshiko likes this picture because she enjoyed watching me in pain as the masseur really dug into my calves)
I also got my knee strapped up so that I would be able to finish the next day without injuring it. He did a really good job - I felt no pain at all the whole day.
The next start was at quite a reasonable hour: 8.30 am. My support crew was much happier with this than the 7.00am start (meaning getting up at 4.30!) on Saturday.
We had a mass start for the first kayak leg up the river from Tairua. Unfortunately the organisers got the tide information wrong, and instead of starting with the tide behind us, we had to battle the out going tide through the numerous sandbanks of the Tairua estuary.
After a quick change transition, I hopped on the bike and headed over the hills to Whangamata . Even though the ride was only 30km, and there was only one medium sized hill, I felt really uninspired the whole way - especially since I knew I was pretty much last. I arrived at Whangamata feeling depressed and like quitting, but after a little temper tantrum (threw my shoes as far as I could across the car park) and a bite to eat I slowly got underway for the 22km run over the hills.
(There are no photos of this bit because I was too stuffed, and the support crew were a bit sick of it all by this time)
The first 8km of the run which were on a gravel road through farmland we boring, hot, and didn't help my negative mood. I kept wanting to quit, but then thinking "I'll just get to the end of the dirt road - then quit.". Just before the end though, the tail end charlie support car caught me (I was now last) and asked if I was OK. I mumbled "yeah, sort of" and kept running. Then, at the end of the road, we met the sweeper for the run - Andrew (the guy who runs through after the competitors and collects the route markers, any rubbish, dropped belongings, and any injured competitors). He ran with me for a while, and we chatted a bit - which revived my spirits a lot. He said encouraging things like "this will be better than most tail end runs, because at least we're running - usually I have to walk with the last person". That made me feel better.
Eventually I got ahead of Andrew because he was busy collecting all the route marking tape, and then not long after, I caught and passed another runner. Now I was really moving. My spirits continued to climb as I met a few hikers coming down who told me it wasn't far to the top. I had switched over, and now I really wanted to finish. No, I was going to finish.
The run took me quite a long time - and I still walked some of the uphill parts, but I finally got to the finish and by that time I was feeling really energetic again. The tail end charlie car met me on the other side (they had driven around - which was quite a long way) and said "you look a shit-load better then you did at the start!" And it was true. I was feeling good. And now there was just a 30 km flat bike to the end. I would finish!
So I set off with the guy that I had passed on the run (he caught up while I was a the transition) and the St John's ambulance kept us company!
The cycle was nearly flat, just a few rolling hills (which saw me get ahead of the other guy) and I kept a pretty high average - around 29.5kmh - right in through Thames. I finally got to the finish with a big smile on my face after 7 hours 41 on the road for the day. I had done it
Finally, time to collapse. :-)