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.....