Sunday, November 30, 2008

Skiing and Pebble Wrestling

Well some might say silly things like "it’s time to move on" or "winter’s history", there are still a few folks around that are keen to milk what little snow is left from the big snow falls we had this past winter. I was pretty stoked to find 6 other like minded folks for a ski up the Otira Valley this past Saturday.
Dave starts the 1hr+ approach in his ski boots
With over 400mm of rain during the week the snow pack had taken a real hammering and was totally soaked. This along with warm temps meant things were a little iffy stability wise and we knew we would have to play things by ear, but the hope was to ski off Rolleston's Low Peak.
Jane nearing the snow line, Hwy 73 in the distance On the snow and away skinning.
It was a pretty long hike to the snow compared to last time I was up the Otira Valley. The snow was thin and we really had to pick our way up, including one section where we had to kick turn our way up like it was going out of fashion.
Duncan standing guard, as Tim scrambles
The snow was soft and wet and we opted to scramble up rocks where possible, rather than expose ourselves to the sloppy snow pack. It was about this time we also flagged the Low Peak and decided to head toward Goldney Ridge, where the snow was less sun affected.
The boys on the Goldney Ridge, looking at Low Peak
The skiing was OK. I was actually surprised how well it skiied considering how crappy it was to boot up in. I was also skiing a pair of Dynafit Manaslu skis for the first time. These guys are pretty fat compared to what I am used to - 95mm under foot and 178cm long, so a big ski compared to what I usually ski on. The first few turns felt strange, but once I got into it I started to enjoy them. They are super light for their size, but didn't seem to get pushed around, like a lot of light skis do.
Tim not wanting to let go of winter......Myself enjoying the Manaslus in the variable soft snow
After refueling at the Arthur's Pass store and a little gardening and quiet time in Castle Hill, Duncan and Dave started getting restless so we headed out to to wrestle some boulders. It has been ages since I have done any climbing and I'm pretty average at the best of times, but it was pretty fun and very enjoyable to see the crew getting after it.
Dave and Kathleen about to "mantle the shit out" of some poor, unsuspecting soft rock

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Busy, busy............

Been pretty buy lately since doing the Mt Vernon race, which seems like a long time ago now. The Thursday after the race Jane and I moved into our new place!! Pretty exciting to say the least. We have great views of the Craigieburn and Torless Ranges and even have a vegetable garden! Below are some photos of whats been happening.........
Jane and Gus out side our new place
The Cheeseman Rd is now open at Forest lodge all the way to Middle Hut. Got out for a little ski, here's a small snow bridge that I crossed, just like in the real Mountains!
Tarn looking a little worse for wear, still managed to milk 500m vert of skiing. Whats there is skiing good.
My pet duck, before I returned him (her?) to the wild Graeme Kate's has a new web cam up and running on, it faces west, towards Lyell Peak

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mt Vernon Run Up

Did the Mt Vernon Run Up, the first race in the 2008 Frontrunner Off Road Series, last night. The course was 7km, up the Valley track, across the summit road, to Mt Vernon Summit and return down the Farm Track. I was talking with an older racer pre race who told me there were "lots of fast guys here tonight". I'm totally clueless to the trail running/multi sport scene here, so I have no idea who's who, but it was good to hear that there would be some top guys around as it's always fun to see how you measure up. Things started fast and furious as people sorted themselves out before reaching the single track and I slipped in around 5th or 6th. I ran up the Vally track on Monday so knew what to expect - a narrow, uneven and windy track that worked its way up to the summit road. There was a little passing/being passed on the way up and I got to the summit road in 9th place, just as a mate, Rob, passed me. The raced crossed the road and then climbed steeply up to the summit of Mt Vernon and then descended steeply. The down is normally where I struggle, so I was surprised when I pulled away from one racer and started to gain on 2 more, including Rob. I passed another and caught Rob just as we got to the steep single track finish. A quick cutting of a corner saw me sneak past Rob and get within 5sec of 4 and 5th place, finishing in 6th. Pretty happy with my 36min54sec time and how I was able to finish strong on the down, but in hindsight I should have pushed harder on the up. Jane had a good race, finishing 5th also, in 46:25 and even sprinted past people in the finish! The next race in the 2008 Frontrunner Off Road Series is the Godley Head Run Out, this Wednesday, the 19th, before the series wraps up with the Evans Pass Run Over on the 26th Nov. Highly recommend heading along to the remaining races. Last night was a really relaxing and friendly atmosphere and at $10 a race you can't go wrong.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Salomon Running Review

I managed to get my hands on a Salomon Running XA15 Pro Vest Pack a few weeks ago for a demo and used it on my bigger training runs that I did last week. It was nice to have a pack for the runs I did last week with the new snow in Arthur's Pass. I was able to easily carry a shell jacket, warm hat, Buff, gloves, a little food, 1L water and even my camera. The most notable thing about this pack, as you would have noticed in the name, is the vest feature. The front of the shoulder straps have a pouch on each side for carrying water bottles and the vest feature is between these. By loading up the 2 water bottle pouches (about 1.5L) and carrying extra food bars/energy gels in the vest pockets you have more room, or don't need as much room, meaning the 15L on your back is plenty big enough to carry a spare layer, gloves, a hat - all the stuff that is required for a mountain/trail running race.
XA15 Pro Vest Pack, with Vest's circled

Back of the XA15 Pro Vest Pack, showing drinking bladder compartment and drink bottle pouch (circled).

The pack itself is fairly small and sits very snug on your back, taking up around only 2/3 - 3/4 of your back, meaning there is good breathability on your back. Its fit is very nice, the adjustment straps that are used to snug the vest tightly mean that the pack hugs nicely when running at high speeds over uneven terrain. Loading the water bottles and other goodies in the front means these heavier items are not on your back, which usually cause the pack to swing and bounce around. For me, the biggest drawback of the XA15 Pro is the Vest feature itself. I feel a little like action multi sport man as I zip up the front of the pack over my chest. At first I wasn't 100% sold on it, but I have warmed to it over the 9hrs I spent running with it. I'll definitely use a pack from the Salomon Running range while running/racing this summer, if not the XA15 Pro, then possibly the Raid Revo 15. The other Salomon Running product I have been using and am really impressed with is the XT Wings trail shoes. I'm onto my second pair of Wings and I don't think I've ever brought the same shoe twice! The Wings feature Salomon's quick lace system, which I've found work well, holding nice and snug. The heal is wide and well cushioned, as is the forefoot area, making for a smooth and well supported ride on rough, uneven trails. The Wings, like all Salomon Running shoes, are a dedicated trail running shoe, but do offer enough cushion for short amounts of road running, like running to and from a trail head from home or the car park. Running through the snow last week in APNP, I was most impressed with the "ContaGrip" sole that didn't slip once while running over snow covered rock. My biggest dilemma is what shoe in the Salomon Running range to get next! Most who I have talked to rate the XA Pro 3D higher than the Wings, while the new SpeedCross 2, the race shoe of choice for the likes of Jonathan Wyatt and Kilian Jornet, look very impressive!

Salomon's new SpeedCross 2

Your best bet for getting a hold of Salomon Running products is from your local Front Runner or R&R Sports store, or call 03 366 1122 for stockist.

Congratulations Gena!

"Hello, I am Gena"
A huge congratulations to Gena and his family! I had a very excited Gena call me yesterday afternoon to tell me that he'd just got off the phone with his lawyer and he and his family have gotten New Zealand residency! I know that this is something that Gena has wanted for a while and I am sure there was a bit of celebrating in Albany at the Sibaev house hold last night.
For those who don't know Gena, he and his family moved to NZ from Russia a few years ago. Gena was really hoping to get residency this time last year in the hope that he could race for NZ at the world ski mountaineering champs. Looks very likely he'll be racing for NZ in Andorra in 2010!
I was think how Gena's residency application suddenly got approved and the only thing I can think of is the newly elected John Key must be a ski mountaineering fan and fast track Gena's application, ensuring he'll race for NZ in 2010......................

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Frontrunner Off Road Series

As you may have noticed there's a been a bit of a change in the theme to the Blog lately, with the snow melting and days getting hotter and longer I've been running more and more. This time last year I was using running to keep up fitness before heading to France for the winter, but with my first summer in 5 years fast approaching I'm planing on getting into trail running race's, like the Flagpole Run Up I raced in a few weekends ago.
Though a few of you might be interested in a trail race series, starting this Wednesday evening- The Sumner Running Club invites you to their superb annual Off Road Running Series. The 3 races are on the Port Hills’ tracks traversing rugged tops along narrow scenic tracks. Awe inspiring views are a feature for all the races. There are great performance and spot prizes. Races are after work but will get you back in time for dinner… Race 3 features the series prize giving post race. Brilliant running for all abilities and also competitive racing. Great as a
spring blast, prep for the Coast to Coast or as a personal challenge. Invite friends, family and workmates. REMEMBER: JUNIOR RACE 10 – 12 and 13 - 16 Mark these in your diary now! Enter on the day: $10 per race or $25 for the whole series. $5 for juniors.
Race 1
The MT VERNON RUN UP Wednesday 12th November 2008 Mt Vernon and return 7km Up the Valley track, across the summit road, to Mt Vernon Summit. Return down the Farm Track.Start 6.15pm from carpark at the end of Hillsborough Terrace, St Martins. Registration 5.30pm-6pm
Below: Jonathan Wayatt, NZ's 8x World Champion mountain runner!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Trail Running in AP- Video

Took this short video while running in the snow the other day. Anyone know what trail is was taken on?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Trail Running in APNP

Went for a great run yesterday afternoon. It had been snowing on and off all day out here in Arthur's Pass, were I am currently working, and running in the snow covered beach forest was pretty nice. I ran for about 1.5hrs, which just flew by as I was distracted by how transformed the Bridal Veil and Bealey Valley tracks were by the covering of snow.
I was demoing a Salomon backpack and was easily able to carry my camera with it. Below is the pick of the photo's, it's in the Bealey Valley.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

happy Guy Fawkes?-HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Its Guy Fawkes today which means every one will go a little crazy. In between watching the race for the US precedence folks will come up with new and exciting ways to burn and scare them self's, as well as those close to them, and lets not forget about scaring the shit out of your neighbours pets..........

I must say that this proud NZ tradition has never been huge in my family, don't get me wrong, when we were young we'ed throw the odd "Guy" on the bonfire and I may have pointed the odd fire rocket at friends and family when I was younger all in the name of fun, but for me the 5th Nov isn't Guy Fawkes day, or even the day that Barack Obama got a new postal address, no, the 5th of November is my Dads birthday!

Happy Birthday Dad from Jane and I! wish we we're down there to celebrate with you, but we are think of you.

Flagpole Run Up

Did my first ever trail/mountain running race this past Saturday, the The Shoe Clinic Flagpole Run Up. It was a 20km race up Flagpole hill near Whitecliffs, with the first 5km climbing up to the 897m high summit of Flagpole, then down into the Selwyn rive and back to the start area. I haven't been running a great deal and it was predicted that I would go out hard and then fade even harder. Not one to disappoint I went out in the lead group, was in 2nd for a time and reached the top of Flagpole in 3rd place. I grabbed some water, throwing it over me, only to discover it was sports drink! I had to stop and get water to get the sticky stuff off me and fell back into 5th place. I knew with a lack of running, my legs would struggle on the down and 3rd and 4th place pulled away from me. I was relived to cross through the Selwyn 12 time's as it was very hot and my pace slow more and more. Lucky I was far ahead of the chase group when I really hit the wall and managed to hold on to 5th place, which turned out to be 2nd in the open men's. The top 3 were all 40yrs old and over! I finished in a time of 1hr40min. Jane had a similar race to me, being in 5th place until around 5km to go, when she hit the wall and was pasted by multiply racers. Jane was pretty happy with her race and time of 2hr14min Was a great little race, with around 250 people competing. Next big race on the calendar is the Avalanche Peak Challenge, 23km, up Avalanche Peak and out the Crow river!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Guest Blog- Mt Brewster Area

Been pretty slack on the blogging lately. The shock of Noel's accident has put me on my ass a little. I did get cheered up last week when Derek from MWH Engineering in Queenstown sent me some great photos of a recent trip to the Mt Brewster area, just off the Haast high way. Figured I better share these with you, maybe the last skiing stoke until next winter............... "Hey Grant, Brewster is a really great skiing destination particularly earlier than now, when you can ski from the new hut. I am bias about the quality of the new hut, it is one of our designs. Here is a handful of pictures of the area from the weekend if you are interested:
Brewster Hut and Mt Topheavy
Top of the gully Dropping into Armstrong gully
Run off Top Heavy
old man turns
Thanks Derek!
"The skier who forsakes the lifts to climb under his own power to a mountain summit is a very different person from the downhill only piste basher and is often regarded by the latter as something of a curiosity.
But he was the creator of the sport; and possibly with him lies the future"
-Robin Fedden, The book of Europen Skiing, 1966
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