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