Friday, November 27, 2009

Julbo Tracks Review

Click HERE to read a review of the Julbo Tracks on Adventure Magazine Online.
I wore the Tracks for the "Symphony on Skis" ski traverse and Molesworth and Flagpole running races. Very nice pair of sunnies!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pick of the Week- Bealey Spur

PICK OF THE WEEK is an idea I had for my silly little blog to help me think of a super easy weekly update. At the moment the creative (or not so creative) juices are flowing and I have banged out 18 blogs last month and are up to 20 this month, but this is a rarity. Often I haven't the time for this kind of blog fest, or I just get plain sick of it. My plan is to spend a lot of time on the trails around Castle Hill and APNP (as well as explore some new areas) over the summer and I probably have to start working a little more than I have been, so the "Pick of the Week" will help me when I am pushed for time. The "Pick" could be a trail, a ski tour, a race/event, piece of gear, or a web site, and I would love to have "Guest Picks", so feel free to get in touch if you are keen.
I feel like I have 6 weeks worth of "Picks", I decided to start with one of my favorite little out and back trail runs in APNP (Arthur's Pass National Park)- Bealey Spur.

Google earth map of Bealey Spur track leading up to the hut (Lagoon Saddle track shown for reference)
This is a great "out and back" run that I have done a number of times now, often on my way home from work in Arthur's Pass, as it's a great way to unwind after a busy day. I can't remember how long it normally takes me to reach the hut, I think 48mins?? The track is steep in places, with some nice treed sections and some wicked views when it opens up. There is water at the hut, so you can travel light.

A sample of the views on offer on the Bealey Spur Track

Bealey Spur is also a pretty fun ski touring destination- Bealey Spur Hut, winter '06

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Molesworth '09 Race Report

What can I say, things started off so well for me at the Molesworth Run on Saturday. After the race briefing we got the "5min warning". The start gun (it was pretty cool, they had a real rifle!) went off and I was away, as hard as I could, I sprinted past the whole pack of solo racers, I was however going the wrong way........

Playing Catch Up

We drove up to the start of the Molesworth, 84.7km out of Hanmer Springs, on the Molesworth Station on Friday afternoon/evening and had a good look over the course for the next day. Pretty much a long ass dusty road, not that exciting really, but the setting is! The road winds up and down huge valleys, over passes and next to rivers. It is a pretty cool place to say the least. We camped at the Cob Cottage camp ground, with a few other runners, but I think most drove in the morning of the race. I felt good when I woke up, had a good breakfast, stretched a little and walked around, but no real warm up, as I was planing a slow pace out of the gate. This however didn't happen. After the breifing we were told 5mins and I ran to the car that was parked about 100m up from the start line. I took off a layer, put on some sun screen and ducked into the trees for one last bath room break before that start. Thats when I heard the gun go off. I ran past my fellow racers who gave me confused and amused looks, got to the start line to hear "oh, there he is, Grant, what are you doing??", turned and started my watch. I received a big cheer from the team racers that started an hour later and tried not to stress too much. I guess I would have lost 1 min, 2 tops and I wasn't too worried. I ran past a few people, chatting with Simon for a bit and then with Paul for a while. It felt really easy, a cruisey pace, one that I rarely would run at. Up front last years runner up Brett Harris and MattB looked as if they were hammering the pace. Matt soon thought better of this and backed off, while Brett romped up over Ward Pass. I caught Matt about half way up Ward Pass, and we walked the steeper sections trying to save energy. We were in 3rd/4th place, with Uwe Paschke now in 2nd. Matt and I ticked along together for over 2hrs, staying at a nice 5min/km pace. We pulled Uwe in on the flats and downs, catching him at 20km, he then hammered up Isolated Saddle, while Matt and I walked the steep sections again. Brett meanwhile wasn't letting up, with a good 4mins on us. I parted ways with Matt at about 30kms, but fully expected to see him again before the finish. With 6 Keplers, 3(?) St James and a Heaphy under his belt I knew he would run a smart, strong race. I rolled in to the start of leg 3 in 3hr32min and Jane congratulated me on my first Marathon. I was now a good 10mins behind Brett, 4 in front of Matt and Uwe and 10mins in front of Paul. I was still running more or less 5min/km and was in a happy place, it didn't last.

Brett and his support, looking strong about 2hr30 in.
Matt told me Brett had gone out hard like this last year, but exploded. He still hung on to 2nd, but it was almost an hour behind first, so I was trying to position myself to pounce in case this happened to Brett again, although I didn't expect him to make same mistake twice.
It seemed to happen fairly suddenly, I guess I was trying to stay positive and ignore my decline. Somewhere around 50, or 55km I guess I really started to slow, none of my food tasted any good and I was so sick of sports drink. I struggled into the start of the final leg, easyily 20mins behind Brett, now with Paul just 2mins back and Matt and Uwe another 2mins. I stopped and drank some soup in an attempt to get something different and salty down me and was quickly told off for stopping by a friend and started running again. Paul then passed me at a pace that made me feel like I was standing still. Paul's pace had been really constant all day and he was running a great race. I tried to stay in touch and at one point when he was walking and drinking I still thought there was hope, that was until I realized that his walking pace was faster than my "running" pace. To make things worse, Matt was now closing in, thankfully, for me at least, Uwe had hit the wall.
About 15km out I busted out the water, salt and flat coke mix. While this does't sound that great, it is magic. Once it kicked in I started to pick up and once I finally saw the turn off to Jack's Pass I was ready to go, but Matt was still closing in. The climb up to Jack's Pass was pretty flat and short, but it was a hill and I love running hills. Even after 75km, I was happier going up this, than I was along the windy flats, the coke may have had something to do with it? I got to the summit and still had a good gap on Matt, increasing it, only for him to close in a little. I opened it up, finally shaking him, hit the flat and felt surprisingly good. 

The DOC sign says it all........
I crossed the finish line in 7hr44min20, 15mins behind Brett and 3 behind Paul. Matt was just 3 behind me.
Coming into the finish in Hanmer Springs
I was happy to be finished and was feeling surprisingly good. I chatted with a few people and got a massage. When I took off my socks I was greeted to a nice surprise-

Really happy with my first "Ultra", even more so considering I only decided to do the Molesworth 3-4 weeks ago and hadn't specificity trained for such a big race. My placing was a pretty fair representation of my race and I got a little luck with Matt not having one of his better days. Interestingly the top 4 on Saturday would have been the top 4 in the 05 and 06 races, with only the winner in 07 and 08 (Both times John Bayne) going faster than the first 4 on Saturday, so it was a pretty strong field going off that. I haven't seen any older results, but do know the record is an amazing 6hr32mins by John Thirkettle, set in 1996. That's faster than the winning 2 person team this past weekend!! 
I have to say a HUGE THANK YOU to Jane who supported me during the race (and day to day in general). She worked her ass off, parking ahead, running down to meet me with food and water and running with me for a few hundred meters at a time, every 3-5 km or so (about every 1000m by the end). No way I could have done it with you Jane, so thanks heaps! Next year we can trade places.....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Molesworth Course Break Down

Race Distances and Course Description

Leg One:

km from


Molesworth Gate. Short sharp undulating run, sharp corners and steep pulls leading up to Wards Pass, then steady zig zag up to summit.

Summit Ward Pass. 1145m. Steep descent into isolated flat and the

Acheron River Bridge, - flat open country excellent running to

Saxon River Bridge, similar country through to

End of Leg One, Sign post west end of Isolated Flat.

Leg Two:

km from

km from
start of stage


300m of flat before a steady climb to summit of Isolated Saddle.
Isolated Saddle, easy down hill to
Red Gate turn off. Undulating easy run to
Severn River Bridge. Short, sharp sections through to
Yarra River Bridge. Similar country through to end of Leg 2 at a point
being 2.5km passed pylon no. 1078. Leg Two Ends. Clearly signed.


Leg Three:

km from

km from
start of stage


road closely follows Acheron river with several steep pulls around bluffs to
Five Mile stream. Road gradually eases, and the valley widens as the confluence of the Acheron and Clarence Rivers become visible at -
Historic Acheron Accommodation House. Road descends gently to the Molesworth boundary on the Clarence River Bridge.
Clarence River Bridge. Public road from here to Hanmer. Crossing the bridge the road follows the Clarence upstream to a gate and
End Leg Three.

Leg Four:
km from

km from
start of stage


road continues adjacent Clarence River gently climbing towards Jollies Pass and Jack's Pass roads.
Jollies Pass Road, continue past this intersection to
Jack's Pass Road and the final mountain. One final effort up a steep 2.9km to the top and
Jack's Pass Summit. Road then descends steeply into the outskirts of Hanmer township, turn left at end of Jack's Pass road, (opposite camp ground) and follow road into town keeping to right hand side of road. Finish through avenue of trees opposite Thermal Pools. Finish will be clearly coned, marked and visible. Take a deep breath and lunge over the line at
The Race is Over!!! 

On a side note the weather is looking pretty average for the next few days. rain Friday night camping and 100km winds at 1000m in exposed places. Could be a bit breezy running over Wards Pass........

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Some More "Words of Wisdom"

(Keep the guess rolling in for the Molesworth folks!)
After the "Words of Winsdom" post the other day, here are a few more first timer tips.
These are from Paul Charteris. Paul is the man behind the Tarawera Ultra and Trail RunZ and he has raced in the Western Sates 100 miler.
1.  Don't run on Thursday or Friday.  There's simply no need to do
extra training so close to the event.

2. Don't carry all sorts of useless crap that you'll never need.  I
see a lot of ultra-runners carry huge amounts of food, drink and
clothing.  It only weighs you down.
3. (you already know this one).  Start slow.  I mean real slow.  At
Western States it was 1.5 hours before I   reached my "running pace"
and you know what, 5-8 hours in to the race I passed about 50 other
runners who had started way too fast.
4.  If the day is going to be cool, try and get some calories in you
earlier rather than later.  After a few hours of running you may not
feel like eating or drinking much in anycase.
5.  Don't be afraid to load up on some decent fat in the next few
days.  Quite a few studies have shown that fat loading results in
superior performance for ultra-distance events.
6. Watch all the Killian Jornet videos you can between now and race
day.  That dude is phenomenal.

Thanks heaps Paul, and also Byron!
If any of you out there have a tip you would like to share that would be great! Leave it via a comment.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Molesworth- How Long?

How long is the 84km Molesworth gonna take me??
Well your guess is as good as mine! To prove this I will give away a Dynafit Racing Cap to the person who guess's the closest to what my time ends up being. For what its worth my goal is 8hrs, so there is a start point for your guess.
One guess per person, so make it count. If you read this blog, then make a guess. I don't think there are a huge number of you out there, so you have a great chance of scoring a sweet hat!.
The Racing Cap is perfect for cruisy spring ski tour's (when you don't need a helmet), or trail running in the summer months. Good chance I will be wearing mine this Saturday.
I'll post this bad boy to you were ever your at.
Leave your guess here via a comment. 8:01.10 for example (8 hrs 1 min 10 sec, but I don;t think we need the sec's?). If you don't have a blogger account, leave a e-mail address , or a name at least.
Good luck

Fuel Me Fueling Me

I am pretty excited to announce a new sponsor- Fuel Me, NZ's Endurance Sport Specialists.
Andrew and the team at Fuel Me have over 8 years in the sport's nutrition industry and carry only the highest quality sports nutrition and training gear. Their top selling brands include Skins, 2XU, Cliff, Leppin and Cytomax, as well as my personal favorite, Gu.
"If it's not going to work 100% for you, we're not going to sell it to you" attitude, teamed up with a 30 day correct fit Guarantee and the best prices around, you really can't go wrong with Fuel Me.
I have ran two wins in the Crater Rim and Flagpole races with the 2XU Race Socks on, been fueled by Gu's on my bigger Molesworth training runs, as well as the sub 13hr Symphony on Skis this past winter and recovered amazingly well post race with the help of my Skin compression tights and Cytomax Whey Protein mix.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Words of Wisdom

So less than 5 days before my first ultra run, the 84km Molesworth Run this Saturday. I am getting the same feeling I used to get when I was say around 7 years old or so, before a birthday, or Xmas. You know, when the excitement is slowly building, the not knowing what Santa might bring you, or what kind of cake you will get.......
This "excitement" is of course mixed with a new, less comforting emotion.

Running 84km is not what bothers me. You see after 84km I am done, so I am OK with that. It's the unpleasant time between K's 50 to 70-75 that I think will be really hard. Simply put I am scared. But to my surprise, this fear excites me a little bit, just enough to give me that feeling that this Saturday will be fun.
I have been researching and asking around, trying to get as much "fun" out of my first ultra as possible. Luckily I was able to get some words of wisdom from 2 very experienced Ultra runners. I put to them what the number 1 tip would be to someone about to run their first Ultra.
Bryon Powell is the man behind iRunFar, an amazingly informative website for Ultra Runners. If you have been watching Kilian's Quest you would have seen Bryon as he was Kilian's first pacer during the Tahoe Rim Trail. This is what Bryon had for me-
"For races 80k and longer, think of the race as a "training run" for the first two thirds of the distance. Run easy (like a decent 30k training run for the 80k and easy enough for the 160k that you could run all day) and take care of yourself. You want to go into the last third of the race still able to move well.
One way I try to remind myself of this concept early in a long ultra is by envisioning the race as an out-and-back course and thinking, "Could I run as fast at this point on the course on the return trip."
In other words, at the 20k mark in a 100k, could I see myself running that same pace at 80k. I swear it keeps me honest."

Pretty much the kind of answer I would expect from Bryon, but it is really nice to be reassured from someone that has been there. 
I think my biggest issue will be, apart from pacing myself in the early stages of the race, is getting to sleep the night before.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mt Vernon Run Up Report

Had a great time at the Mt Vernon Run Up last night. It was a pretty good turn out, with about 65 folks turning up to race.
Tane Cambridge when out hard, leading the pack up the valley track

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Mt Vernon Run Up Video

Heres a little video Jane took of the Mt Vernon Run Up last night.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mt Vernon Run Up- See You There

The Frontrunner Off Road Series starts tonight with the 'Mt Vernon Run Up' at 6.15pm (Junior Race will start at 6.20pm). Meet at the Mt Vernon carpark at the end of Hillsborough Terrace. It will be signposted. $10 seniors, $5 juniors.
I wasn't 100% I would line up at the Mt Vernon Run Up after feeling a little tired after the Casey- Binser run I did on Monday,

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

7 in 7

If you haven't heard already, Mal Law will be running 7 of NZ's "Great Walks" in 7 days!
Below is Mal's grueling schedule-
Day 1 – November 29th – 42.7km – Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk
Day 2 – November 30th – 41km – Tongariro Northern Circuit
Day 3 – December 1st – 51.9km – Abel Tasman Coast Track

Casey- Binser

Did my last "big" training run before the Molesworth today, the Casey- Binser Saddle loop. It's around 32-35km long and about 1300m of ascent/descent.
It took me a good 30-45mins to get warmed up and into this training run today, with the track leading up the Andrews Stream being fairly steep at the start I just took my time.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Frontrunner Off Road Series

The Frontrunner Off Road Running Series starts Wednesday week on the Port Hills.
It will see 3 weeks of superb hill running above the fair city of Christchurch.
We kick off with the 'Mt Vernon Run Up' on 11th November at 6.15pm.
$10 seniors
$5 juniors
enter on the day
Results of previous Series are available here: I did the Mt Vernon Run Up last year and had a great time, as it was really social after work event, with some top racers. I Finished in 6th, a good 3mins off the winner.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Press Flagpole Race Report

If you looked hard (I mean real hard) in yesterdays Press you would have eyed the below race report form Saturdays Flagpole race.-
Over 300 runners were on the start line at Flagpole Farm, behind Whitecliffs Domain in the Malvern Hills, on Saturday morning for the annual mountain running race.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

B2B- 2nd day

Did day 2 of my B2B (Back to back) training in preparation for the Molesworth today. I left sunny Castle Hill for cold, grey Christchurch (I had a little work to do) and headed for the trails in the Port Hills, after making a quick stop at the Burrito Company first.
I ran a few different trails, some loops, back tracking a little, got a little lost on some trails I hadn't done before and managed 3hr40 and 1200m ascent. No idea how many km's, but I guess at least 30?
That's about 70km's in 8hrs in the last 2 day, add Saturday's race (plus warm up, cool down) and the short jog Sunday, I have done about 100km and 10.5hrs running in the last 4 days. I know some people run 100km easy week in, week out, but this I am sure will be my first, so its a pretty satisfying and tiring feeling. Looking forward to a swim tomorrow morning!
Felt surprisingly good, until the last 20-30mins on today's run. I carried 500mls of Replace and 4 Gu's again, filling up the water bottle twice. The Gu's are working well for me, but after 3hrs I start to crave "real" food and some protein. Today I was dreaming about tuna sandwiches and the Cliff Bar I had in the car.
Just printed of the Molesworth entry form, will fill it out and get it in the post. Hopefully I will get accepted as I have no previous ultra experience and haven't even run a marathon.
"ENTRIES WILL BE ACCEPTED ON A FIRST RECEIVED BASIS, however the organising committee reserves the right of acceptance."

Flagpole Photos

If you were at the Flagpole Run Up on Saturday chances are Gary at Nesport snapped a photo of you! Gary has a new hundred photos up on the Nesport website from the race Saturday and prints are available to buy.
Rounding the trigg on the summit of Flagpole in 1st place
Nesport details- web-
ph- (04) 4616635

Monday, November 2, 2009

Molesworth Training

So I am about 95% sure that I am going to have a crack at the Molesworth 84km Ultra on the 21st of November. Yes, I know it is a silly idea, but curiosity is starting to get the better of me.
I have been reading up a storm over at I Run Far, researching tips for training and diet for ultra runs. One of the things I picked up is the B2B (back to back) training. This is doing 2 long days in a row and after an easy 35mins yesterday I did day 1 of my B2B today.
I started running from home with no pack and just 4 Gu's, turned left onto 73 and ran over the Broken River bridge and took a sharpe left onto the trails, running towards Flockburn. From here I got on to the Broken River ski area road at Jacks Pass and made my way onto Lyndon Saddle, 1hr30 after leaving home. I then ran down to the CVSC access road and reached the ticket office 45mins later. I sucked down my 3rd Gu and grabbed a handfull of snow as I made my way to the mountain bike track that leads back down to Lyndon Saddle. Back to Jacks Pass I then made my way to Forrest Lodge via Drac Flat. Making my way down the Cheeseman road was long, as my last Gu was long gone and there were no streams for water, but I still felt pretty good. I rolled back into Castle Hill after 4hr25 and about 38kms and 1500m climbing.
You can check out the run at Map My Run by combining this MAP and this MAP.
the way I see it, the key to a successful B2B is the recovery. Cold bath, protein smoothy, wearing Skins, LOTS of water and rest are all on the menu right now. On that note, night...........

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Flagpole Run Up

Had a great day yesterday at the Flagpole Run Up, a 21km, 800m ascent mountain running race, held just out side of White Cliffs. After my pre race preparation on Friday that included a short 30min jog with some "stride outs", spending 8-9hrs on my feet working, getting a stomach ache, a weird twinge in my hip, a massage and a hair cut, I was ready to go Saturday morning!

Last year I did 1hr4omins and placed 5th in the Flagpole, a result I was really happy with in what I called my "come back" race, after not doing a running race in about 8yrs. It was also my first mountain/trail running race and the longest race I had run at that time. This time around I knew what to expect and had a bit of confidence after the Crater Rim 2 weeks earlier. I picked up my race number and looked over the start list, picking out of few names that I recognised and was really excited to see that Jacob Roberts, 2009 Routeburn and 2x Avalanche Peak winner would be on the start line! Jacobs 2hr52min Routeburn run earlier this year is bad ass and he was totally dominate at the Avalanche Peak race. Both of these races are ones that I aim for and it’s cool to see some one dominate them the way he did last summer. Jacob is also part of Richard Usshers adventure racing team, so it was gonna be a fast race.

As expected the race started at a fast pace and Jacob went out in 2nd, with last years winner Kerry Faass and I slotting right in behind. 4 of us very quickly went to 3, and then almost immediately it was just Jacob and I. It seemed Jacobs plan was to run hard until he had broken everyone else, as he had no problem taking the lead and hammering this first, long up hill.

4km in we had climbed 500m in 22mins and reached the summit of Flagpole together in 28mins. As I stopped to drink a gap opened between us, which was fine, as I was able to follow Jacobs lead on the steep farm track that was wet and muddy. We reached the Selwyn River together and I slotted right in behind again. We had 12 river crossings and even a short swim when we got a little of course. Neither of us seemed to be able to loss the other- this of course was great news for me and I was hoping a little frustrating for Jacob.

I made a half ass move around 4km out, on a short hill, but had nothing in my legs. I was now clinging on, trying not to get dropped on the final K's. We rounded a corner into a down hill and got the view of the 19 and 20 km marks. I had been stronger on the down hills all day and used gravity to make a small break. This rolled into a flat and then what felt like a long steep climb to the 20th km. Looking back (a lot!) I could see the gap growing and growing and I threw my tired legs at the final down hill and the final stretch back to the finish line.

As I crossed I heard Chris Cox, the race director, over the loud speaker, he sounded as surprised as I was that I crossed the line first, announcing me as “a surprise winner” and “a dark horse”. My time was 1hr28mins, possibly a course record, but the race has only been going for 4-5 years. Jacob was about 30secs behind and Kerry, about 5 mins, 2 mins slower than his 1hr31min winning time last year.

I chatted a little with fellow racers and Chris, but quickly grabbed a little food, water and a dry top, running back to see how Jane was doing. Last year Jane finished 12th (not bad for her first running race). I reached her with 1 km to go and she was in 3rd place and was looking strong. I jogged with her for a while, but was finding it hard to keep up! Jane finished about 12mins faster than last year!

Post race Chris was nice enough to shout me a massage and then we stuck around fro the prize giving. Some pretty good sponsors at this race and I went home with about $220, made up of vouchers and cash. This was very quickly spent at the Shoe Clinic on some Brooks Cascadia 4's.

Big thanks to all that made the Flagpole Run Up happen- Chris and the Avalanche Peak team and all the great sponsors.

LEFT: Jane on her way to finishing 3rd at the Flagpole Run UP

"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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