Wednesday, 24 February 2016


So, it has been a while between drinks, or should I say blog posts. Actually, it's been a year! Largely due to the fact that for the last six to eight months I have been ‘head down, bum up’ writing up my PhD thesis; you could say this hasn’t left me feeling overly inspired to write in my spare time. In addition, I had a lot of trouble with a hamstring injury in the 6 months leading up to Xmas; which meant things were pretty quiet on the racing front. 
However, after submitting my thesis and starting to get back into run-walking in January, I was well and truly excited to be back on the road/trail to full race fitness!

After a tough day on the bike traversing the Pureora Timber Trail a few weeks back, including an intimate encounter with a bridge, it was finally time for what is one of the bigger races on this year’s calendar: Challenge Wanaka, or more specifically, the Lake Wanaka Half. Challenge Wanaka and it’s associated events, continue to build into what is an incredibly popular ‘festival’ of sorts; thanks largely to the stunning location, but also the super slick organisers and volunteers. That stunning scenery could well have proved a welcome distraction from that hurtbox I was about to put myself in; but on this particular weekend, the glacial-fed lake, and surrounding mountains threw up a number of unwelcome obstacles more than anything else! 

Case in point: just as race day arrived in Wanaka, so did the gusty mountain wind; not ideal conditions for my first ever race using deep dish race wheels! Not to mention a swim course that could make the saltiest sea dog turn green! Ok, I exaggerate a little; perhaps I’m getting a bit too excited about blogging again; let’s just leave it at ‘not ideal’. It was what it was, so I nervously racked my bike and headed off to the relative warmth of the change tent to get prepared for race start.

As I was putting on my wet suit, with just 25 minutes to go, I got a surprise message from my sister Jemma to say that after a 4am start (you would realise how ridiculous this was if you knew her sleeping habits) she was making the 4 hour road trip over from Dunedin to support. Stoked!

At least now a few of those nerves switched to excitement.

The race start was delayed 15 minutes after the swim buoys turned to kites, and were shifted by the wind. But, by some Wanaka miracle, with 30 minutes to go till race start, the lake calmed somewhat to a manageable state of ‘chop’. I had an average swim, coming out of the water in 9th place. I instantly regretted not positioning myself near the front of the bunch before race, as I missed latching on to the lead pack altogether. But hey, it was early days, and I was looking forward to the bike.

The bike started well, and I managed to overtake four girls in the out-and-back section to Hospital Flat. After passing back through town we hit a solid head wind all the way to Lake Hawea, before turning 90 degrees, to have it side-on, all along the lake. This lakefront stretch was even slower than the head wind, as the strong cross wind meant I had to ride out of my bars to prevent my bike from being blown out from under me. However, another 90 degree turn at the end of the lake and the hard work had all been worth it! Yay for tail winds!

All was going well and I was enjoying the ride, right until I came to the old red bridge in Luggate; 30km to go. I approached the bridge, perhaps a bit too quick (Not so ‘yay for tail winds’), and as I bumped my way over the boards lining the bridge deck my seat post dropped an inch. Bugger. I carried on, but I was now pretty uncomfortable, thanks to my new cramped riding position, and I started to get a little frustrated with myself. Perhaps worst of all, I began to question whether I was now able to make up time on the other girls in front.

It wasn’t until a fellow tri club member (who I had passed earlier) came riding past me, that I realised how much time I was wasting being frustrated with myself about not tightening my seat well enough. After a little ‘moment’ – that may or may not have involved a small monologue, out loud, relating to hobbits, that was laced with a few expletives – I achieved the necessary attitude change. It was time to put some of that frustration to use! I pushed hard till the end of the bike, in my slightly squat position, and managed to come off the bike in second place.

I was slightly wary of my running coming into the race; ok, quite wary. I had felt pretty good in training recently; however I was yet to run over an hour without stopping since coming back from injury. Because of this, I knew I had to run ‘smart’. 

About 7 km into the run, Rebecca (in 3rd) passed me, looking impressively strong. I had a feeling that was going to happen and decided not to go with her; instead I stuck to my own pace (coach’s orders). Staying patient on the run was a great decision, and I had enough in the tank to push up Gunn Rd hill and overtake Rebecca to be in second place once again. After the hill I picked up the pace and was informed by my trusty support crew (Jem, Craig and Wanphen) that I was now gaining on the leader. It was now a case of staying relaxed and trying to keep good form. Not too far down road, near the turn off to the Outlet, first placed female, Shannon, came into sight. 

I passed Shannon with 6-7 km to go and knew now it was just a case of doing everything I could to keep moving towards the finish. Despite really starting to fade in the last couple of kilometres, I managed to hold the lead to finish in a time of 4 hr 59 mins. A slower time that last year, but considering the conditions, I was pretty darn stoked; and pretty darn knackered! Nothing a bit of champagne couldn't fix though... 

A massive thanks to my sis Jem for making the trip over from Dunedin for the day to support me (and take some pretty cool photos too!). This gave me a much needed boost and some added motivation on race day. Also, a big thanks to Coach Brendan for the continual advice and support. Thanks to my bike mechanic Tom Farr for always making sure my bike is ready to roll (if only I knew how to tighten a seat post when building it out of the bike bag haha!!). A special mention to Zeenya Clothing for the fantastically bright gear I get to train in as well. And of course, thanks to Mum, Dad, and my Uncle Bruce, who supported me from a far, and almost had Jemma’s thumbs falling off after a day of frantic race updates via Facebook.

I am now looking forward to dusting off the MTB ready in time for XTERRA Rotorua.
Woohoo! Redwoods!

Sunday, 1 March 2015


On the 22nd of Feb I stepped onto the start line to begin only my second Half Ironman event.

Challenge Wanaka is regarded as NZ’s largest triathlon festival, encompassing full and half iron distance events and a series of smaller events to keep the field of over 2,000 athletes and 10,000 spectators entertained. It would also have to be one of the most scenic on-road triathlon courses in the world! Just stunning! The fantastic scenery, festival atmosphere, and the chilled out nature of the crew of athletes and friends I had been hanging out with, meant I was more excited than nervous this time around. 

Race morning, and I rolled out of bed at 6am and scoffed my bowl of weetbix. For the third day in a row, it was a beautiful (but crisp!) Wanaka morning. Being a couple of well acclimatised Aucklanders, Matt and I wrapped up in puffer jackets and trackies,and headed down to race HQ to set-up our gear in transition. 

As we were setting up our bikes, the sun began to appear from over the hills behind us, streaming down onto the lake. The atmosphere in transition was surprisingly relaxed and I found myself feeling incredibly lucky to be heading out to do something I love; with some amazing athletes along side me; in such a beautiful part of the world. It was going to be a stunner of day! 

Matt and I got everything ready to go in time to watch the full-distance pro athletes take-off; and take off they did! Some very impressive swim times (and later on, overall times!) were set out on the course, with conditions being near perfect.

Once the full-distance age-groupers had hit the water, it was our turn to get wet-suited up. I wished Matt, Graham and Dave good luck and watch them drift into the crowd of men lining up at the start. The mens half-distance field started 5 minutes in front of us, something we females are getting quite used to.

It was then my turn to make my way over to the start line, taking up a position in the middle of the start line, at the front (Brendan’s orders!). The gun went off and I quickly moved out in front with a group of 3 other swimmers. 

At the first buoy we could see the feet of some of the male swimmers ahead of us and I began picking my way through the field. Visibility was good, and I kept my eye on the other three females until we turned at the second bouy, from here the blinding sun made it difficult to see anything at all! For the remainder of the swim, I just followed the splashes until I emerged back on Roy’s Bay beach. I felt comfortable and strong throughout the swim; perhaps a reflection of consistent ocean swimming over the past few weeks (chasing Matt’s feet!). I was happy to emerge as fourth placed female. 

The transition set up for Challenge Wanaka is pretty long (not surprising with so many athletes) and includes a run up and over a foot bridge. Even though this makes for longer overall race times, it allowed me to settle down a bit before getting on the bike. I came out of transition not far behind the leading girls, and I was able to slip into the lead pretty early in the bike leg (thanks in part to having Uncle Bruce’s speedy TT machine!). As we headed out to Glendu Bay I was conscious of not going out too fast on the bike. I tried to concentrate on keeping consistent effort through the rolling hills, and took in some of the breath-taking scenery (how could you not?!).

The ride was pretty uneventful until we reached Hawea Flat. It was here I suddenly heard the voice of Jess Simson, giving me some encouragement as she approached. Looking VERY strong she cruised up beside me making casual conversation (too easy?!).
In between (the rather necessary) breathing, I managed to tell her (and reassure myself?) that getting passed by the Coast to Coast champ wasn’t really a bad thing (I was pretty stoked to be in that position really!), and she laughed before basically leaving me in the dust!
Into T2, and I was in 2nd place now, by 2 minutes. 

I took off on the run, but didn’t feel overly comfortable. Brendan had told me to time my first few km’s to check I was sticking to the right pace. However, in all the excitement, I didn’t (oops!).
Due to my form feeling more like I was running with duck feet; and the fact that lifting my arm to look at my watch seemed like too much effort; I just ran the first few km’s trying to concentrate on relaxing and finding my legs. I got to the fourth kilometre and heard someone yell out splits to a guy I had caught up to. According to those splits I had run the first 4km in under 16mins; a lot faster than my target. Instant regret!

I dropped my pace right back, hoping I hadn’t done too much damage. 

The track along the river was pretty hot, but absolutely stunning, and if I ignored my legs I was feeling pretty happy! I came to a group of supporters who told me that Jess was about 30 seconds ahead. To be honest, I didn’t believe them, I wasn’t expecting to catch Jess after seeing her go by on the bike!
It turns out, their estimate was pretty spot on, and taking back the lead gave me a new burst of energy. The duck feet and sore legs disappeared (woohoo, this is awesome?!).
Alas, my happy moment was soon interrupted by a common triathlon arch-enemy: cramp. Both hamstrings began to ‘bite’, threatening to go at any time. In desperation, I had my next gel early and hoped that would get me home. I plodded up the nasty little hill on Gunn Road feeling less than happy (one of those dark moments you mentioned Brendan?) and I told myself I had to try and get back into a better space….but maybe after the hill! ;-)

Fortunately, my hammies didn’t ‘bite’ and the new found positivity (and fear of who was likely lurking around the bend just behind me!) allowed me to hang in there and keep the lead for the rest of the race. In the end, ahead of the next finisher by 3 minutes. Absolutely stoked! 

I was blown away by the speed and power of Jess on the bike; and to get into the position she did, coming from a multi-sport background, and having cleaned up at the Coast to Coast the week before, was amazing! It was great to have an opportunity to chat to her, and a number of fantastic athletes over the course of the weekend. Congrats also to Sarah for her solid run and third place finish.
Being able to stand on the podium and spray champagne was great fun! But perhaps I’ve had too much practise at drinking what’s in the bottle, rather than spraying it??! 
Massive congrats to my ‘partner in crime’ Matt, who placed fourth overall in the Mens event. (And most importantly, was well ahead of getting ‘chicked' by his girlfriend).

Also big congrats to my buddies Graham, Dave, Gavin, Judy Kensington and Phillipa Friary for all having great races in the half, and to Liam Friary and Nick Kensington for smashing the full distance (you’re mental). It was a successful day for all, and I am SO keen to head back next year!

Next race on the calendar is The Dual, time to dust off the mountain bike again, woohoo!

For more on Challenge Wanaka, check out

Tuesday, 26 August 2014


2014 marked the 15th year of the Coromandel Classic Multisport race; an event based on the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula that consistently attracts many great multisport and adventure athletes from around NZ. This year saw the addition of a duathlon event, which gave non-paddling athletes a chance to get involved, perfect for triathletes who enjoy a bit of the off-road racing!

My coach, Brendan, and I both entered the duathlon as individuals; an event which would see us cover 20km of mountain biking, 45km of trail running and 120km of road cycling, across two days.

The weekend began with race briefing and gear check on Friday night. From the get-go I could tell it was going to be one adventurous weekend! Race briefing involved endless instructions of where not-to-go to avoid getting lost for hours in the rugged Coromandel Ranges. It finished with a warning from the race co-ordinator to be careful on the run course, as he had previously broken his arm while running through and marking the track! He also threw in mention of the fact that they had designed the duathlon event to suit the distances of Ironman athletes, by adding in an extra out-and-back to Cooks Beach on day one. 
As someone who is yet to do their first half Ironman, this was a tad daunting!

Day One

Day One dawned as a beautiful (but crisp!) Coromandel morning. Race start was 7am, beginning with the 20km mountain bike leg up the Kauaeranga Valley. When the race began, both Brendan and I were towards the back of the field, which meant there was a bit of work to do, to find our way up to those of a similar pace! Brendan managed to somehow catch the front bunch, and I made my way up to the second bunch where I settled in for a steady ride up to the road end. Arriving at road end, my trusty support crew (Mum and Dad) helped me through transition and off I went on the 27km run up the rugged, yet stunning Pinnacles Track. If you are ever in the Coromandel Region with a few hours to spare, this is definitely worth a look!
The track is known to be very technical and steep, with over an hour of climbing to begin with. To prepare for this tough run, I had travelled down a few prior to the race to practise and become familiar with the course. However, I soon realised that the track I was running was certainly not the one I had practised on, woops! Not sure what track I ran Brendan, but it sure wasn’t that one!

After crawling, falling, climbing and cursing my way up to the summit, we started heading downhill – however this soon proved to be tougher than going up!
The slippery rocks and clay banks meant that falling over a number of times was inevitable, and I found myself sliding down some parts of the track on my bum. Unfortunately I found myself being overtaken by quite a few people on the downhill sections, and lost around 10-15 places overall. 
When I finally came to the final 9km of the run along gravel road I knew I had some making up to do, and took off furiously down the road. Thankfully, I was feeling pretty good at this stage of the run, and managed to overtake over 20 people to make up for my slow decent!
Reaching the end of the run was a relief, knowing that there was only one stage on Day One left to go – a 50km cycle. I was feeling OK heading out to Cooks beach, until I reached the turnaround point and realised that I had been riding with a slight tail wind, which was now going to be a head wind!
I slogged my way out of Cooks beach, and along the way couple of team cyclists flew past me (hey Matt B!), who all seemed to have much fresher and faster legs than I did. As much as I tried, I was unable to keep hold of anyone’s wheel for any decent amount of time!
Towards the end of the cycle leg, I approached the final big hurdle of day one; Pumpkin Hill. By this time, my legs were completely smashed! So it was straight into a granny gear for the slow and painful crawl up the dreaded hill. I reached the top after quite a few minutes of pain and decided I hated pumpkin even more now. Luckily, from here I was then able to enjoy a sweeping decent down into Tairua to complete my longest ever day of racing (and there was still day two to go!).

Day Two

Saturday night was a pretty sleepless one. I was on a total sugar and caffeine high from all the gels I had consumed during the day. However, it was back up again, nice and early, for round two!
Day two kicked off at 8.30am Sunday with a 40km road cycle from Tairua. It was nice being able to watch the multisport competitors take off in the kayaks at 8am before we started. We had a rolling start for the first cycle leg, so it was nice and controlled. I was just starting to enjoy myself hanging out in the main bunch when the speedsters of the group decided it was time to kick into action. With the pace picking up, the bunch soon split into two groups where I positioned myself near the front of the second group – not wanting to go out too hard on the first leg. The big hill 13km out of Tairua split our bunch up even more, and I managed to keep up with the front group after the hill, with four other guys. Working together, we had a pretty good, steady pace into Whangamata and T1.
The 18km run began with a long 5km along the road until we hit the Wentworth Valley track. I ran along the road with a guy who was doing the event in a team and we chatted every now and then which thankfully help passed the time on what was a pretty straight forward section. At the end of the gravel road we headed into single track. The track wound its way up through some amazing bush to the Wentworth falls; from here there is a long steady decent down to the Maratoto ford. The scenery up to the waterfall was amazing, which certainly helped to take my mind off my hurting legs. Hitting the downhill section, I once again struggled to keep to a good pace. Anyone who has done downhill running with sore and tired quads knows that it is not very comfortable, and you never really know if your legs are going to be able to catch you if you fall!

Feeling pretty wrecked and now covered in mud, I made it in to T2. Getting on my bike for the final time knowing that I only had 30km of flat road to go was a good feeling. The end was now in sight!

The final road ride was surprisingly enjoyable (thanks to a tail wind) and I managed to catch the guy in front of me. We rode the last part of the ride together into Thames, crossing the line together with a pat on the back.
As always Mum and Dad were there to greet me over the line and I was super happy to finish first individual female. The Coromandel Classic had lived up to all expectations; with great people, an awesome relaxed atmosphere, some ridiculously tough racing, and beautiful scenery. Oh and they even put on some spectacular weather for us!
Congrats to Brendan who took out the duathlon title overall, against some tough competition, despite dislocating his shoulder on the run on day one (?!). Also congrats to Matt B who totally smashed the bike sections in his two man team - I had no chance of holding your wheel as you flew past! And to Lysaght Consultants, who came in second in the four person team multisport event. 
Finally, thanks to Mum and Dad for being my support crew and supporters over the weekend.

For more info on the Coromandel Classic, check out

Thursday, 27 March 2014


From the beauty of the alpine tussock and high country rivers of the Motatapu event in the south, to the stunning island sanctuaries of Motutapu and Rangitoto in the Hauraki Gulf. The last few weeks have certainly dished up some epic places to race!!

Last weekend it was the Partners Life ‘Dual’ Motutapu-Rangitoto Traverse. This event offers a number of walking, running, mountain biking, and triathlon events, along with the incredible and unique opportunity to explore the Motutapu and Rangitoto Islands. The event is now in it’s 6th year and this year raised around $30,000 for the Motutapu Restoration Trust; an organisation doing incredible things for the flora and fauna on the island. If that’s not a good reason to fork out an entry fee, I don’t know what is!

Around 2100 competitors and supporters made the journey over to the island this year; a potential logistical nightmare, that was handled with an incredible level of professionalism by the event organisers, all whilst respecting the history and fragility of the events incredible setting.

As for my day on the island, here’s how it went down:

4.30am wake up to get to the ferry before 6am! I sat on the deck of the ferry and watched the city lights drift away as we made our way over to the island.
As we walked from the ferry to the race area in Home Bay we began to see first light, it was going to be a beautiful day! Setting up transition as the sun began to rise was a great way to get excited and in the zone for the adventure ahead.

This was followed by getting a welcoming onto the Island by the local iwi and a race briefing, before testing the water.

Race started bang on 8am. Sneaking a spot up the front left before the gun went off was key ensuring I didn’t get caught up in too much of a brawl at the beginning of the swim. By the second lap of the 1km swim, the field had spread and I was able to get into a good rhythm.
As I exited the water and ran up the beach I looked at my watch, it just turned over 14mins - about the time I was aiming for, sweet.

Through T1 and on to the bike and we headed off up the gravel road. There were a couple of decent climbs on the bike, with rewarding views at the top. After reaching the furthest point on the course from the start, we made our way  back around the island along a pretty flat and fast track.
The last climb on the ride was on farmland and was pretty bumpy and tricky to ride over. Here I felt as though I was beginning to fade slightly and was over taken by two men who seemed to just glide past me over the rugged farmland!
Reaching the final decent I was pretty happy I had made it there without any falls and was beginning to feel pretty good about myself. Bad move! My arms were pretty tired from being jolted around so much, and I had to really concentrate to keep my hands from slipping of the grips. Unfortunately, with literally 20m of downhill left in the ride, I hit a large hole. Next thing I knew I was launching through the air, much like superman, over my handle bars. Luckily the fall didn’t hurt too much at the time, and after stretching out a bit of cramp, I was able to get back up and on my bike – feeling a little silly.
Into T2 and I had many cheers from the supporters. I could hear people saying “oh look, a girl! Go girl!” From this I figured there must not have been many girls go past before me (turns out there were none). The run was quite hilly and hot with the midmorning sun beaming down. Reaching the last aid station I stopped briefly to get a good drink and while doing so, the volunteers told me I was first girl to go through, awesome!
I bounded off in excitement, with only around 2kms to go. Crossing the line first female overall was such a rewarding feeling. Totally stoked.
Thank you to all the event organisers and the enthusiastic volunteers! And special thanks to my Coach Brendon and all my training buddies at the club who continue to push and inspire me. What a cool sport this is!

For more information on the event, see

For more information on the incredible work of the Motutapu Restoration Trust, see

Sunday, 16 March 2014


Happy New Year – a bit late I know.
Even though the title of this blog specifically refers to 2013, it seems that life, and indeed racing, goes on in 2014! A year ago, the thought of racing in a World Championship seemed almost crazy; yet here we are, I’ve been over to Hawaii, and managed to survive my very first major event! 
And now I have well and truly got the bug, so it's time to look at qualifying all over again...
So my 2014 got off to a rather awesome start, in the picturesque setting of Lake Wanaka and the Motatapu valley.
The event referred to as ‘The Motatapu’ began back in 2005, offering a mountain bike or marathon option, and attracted 1,000 participants. Now, in 2014, it is actually now more of a festival of multisport, with five different events all held on the same day and involving 3,700 participants! Needless to say, I was signed up for the Xterra UDC Finance Triathlon; a 2km swim in Glendhu Bay, a 47km mountain bike through the Motatapu Valley, and a 15km run up and around the Miners Trail above Arrowtown. 
My southern excursion actually began on the Wednesday before the race, with Mum and I deciding to make a long weekend of it, and we flew down to meet my sister Jemma in Queenstown. After finally managing to squish all our gear into Jemma’s car (3+ overnight bags, 2 bikes, and a kayak), we slowly crawled up over the Crown Range to the outlet of Lake Wanaka where we were to be staying. Getting there early meant there was plenty of time for checking out the course and the many other beautiful spots around Wanaka and Arrowtown. It also meant we had a chance to catch up with Nick and Judy who had been so good to me whilst I was over in Hawaii. Nick cooked a delicious meal, and it was so good to catch up and get some handy local hints before the race. 
So, race day; it was absolutely stunning weather! A nice leisurely 10.15am start meant the air was cool, but not cold; the sun was out; and the lake was glass!!
There was a nice relaxed atmosphere at race briefing, and on the start line at the Lake’s edge… perhaps a little too relaxed, because many of us didn’t hear the countdown, and I was still in the process of putting my goggles on when the gun went off! I definitely paid for this a little, getting kicked in the head a few times soon after the start. But I soon found somebody’s hip to stick on for a majority of the first lap; it meant I could relax a bit and ease into the race. No such luxury on the second lap however, and I started to cramp a little towards the end of the swim, and whilst heading up the chute to transition. My first transition was tidy, but a bit more speed would be helpful. Sarah Backler (a Pro competitor from Tauranga) was out of the water close behind me, and her quick transition, along with my niggly cramp, meant she was able to pull away from me soon after leaving the swim-bike transition.

I was soon hooking into my electrolyte-filled brew, and after around 20mins the cramp had gone and I was starting to settle in to a nice rhythm. The start of the bike section had a number of fairly shallow river crossings which we great fun as we could hit them at full pace. I’m not sure the runners appreciated getting splashed though…
Overall, the bike was pretty uneventful, no major climbs, and all on pretty well groomed 4WD tracks. But right towards the end we dropped down onto the Macetown track and encountered some fast descents and a number of bigger, deeper, river crossings. Fortunately for me, I had been up here with friends earlier in the week, so I had a good idea of what to expect. These crossings were still mostly rideable, although in typical Hannah fashion, I had to fall off on at least one – and of course it was one where there was a group of people watching! After a quick dip and a giggle, I was back up on the bike and got away without losing too much skin or time.

Arriving into T2, the signs were a little confusing and I managed to take a slight wrong turn – a mistake a few had made apparently. Thanks to Craig who pointed me in the right direction! Again, I didn’t lose a who lot of time here, just looked a little silly having to run my bike into transition as it seemed quicker than getting back on and riding the last little section after having to jump a ditch. After ditching my bike, and switching Camelbaks, I was off on the run.
We didn’t have too long to find our running legs before we hit the first hill; a seemingly never-ending hill! I was soon red-lining, although the legs didn’t feel like they were making much progress up the steep gravel track. We had about 45-50mins of pretty solid climbing until we reached the highest point of the race (phew!). The one aid station on the run was ideal! There were heaps of kind and enthusiastic volunteers that gave me not only a nice cold coke, but also a huge dosing of encouragement, explaining that I was 5th overall (and first non-pro). With my new-found motivation, I made my descent down the hill as fast as I could, with a few dodgy moments on the slippery grass! The views from the top were incredible, but it was hard to find time to look up without ending up going head over heels. The last part of the run was back on the same track we had followed for the bike section, which meant going back through the river crossings from earlier in the day. This was also good fun, and I found myself bounding through the water as hard as I could – probably looking like a bit of a goober, but I didn’t care!
Running into the finishing chute was a fantastic feeling. There was a huge amount of support at the event, and I felt pretty special getting so many cheers as I ran up to the finish. The event was the longest I have completed so far, so I was glad to make it home, still smiling, and in one piece. Position-wise, things stayed as they were at the top of the run course, and I came home as 1st Amateur Female, and 5th Overall behind 4 very talented girls in Nicky Samuels, Renata Butcher, Liz Orchard, and Sarah Backler. But perhaps most importantly, I had qualified for the World Champs in Hawaii all over again!
Thank you to all the event organisers and volunteers; it is an incredibly well run event and is in probably one of the most beautiful locations in the world – aren’t we so lucky here in little old NZ?! Congratulations to Nicky and Braden on their wins and to Nick, Pete, Will, and the many others I have met through events who were also out there smashing it.
Thanks to my coach Brendon for all his help with training and the lead up to the race; to Massey University Sports academy; and to my awesome race support crew, family, and friends - Craig and Wanphen, Mum, and Jem – who did so much for me on race day and in the days leading up to the race.
Bring on The DUAL.

Sunday, 10 November 2013


The racing format we now know as Xterra, started on the island of Maui in 1996. It began as a duel of the fittest, largely between mountain bikers and triathletes, but it has gone on to attract a variety of outdoor enthusiasts since. Although it had very humble beginnings, Xterra is now a global brand, and the fastest-growing multisport event in the world. The Xterra points series consists of more than 70 races in the US. Further afield, the Xterra World Tour holds championship events in Saipan, New Zealand, South Africa, the Czech Republic, Italy, Brazil, Japan, Germany, France, and Switzerland. The top ranking athletes from each of the national championship events are invited to compete at the Xterra World Championship each October in Kapalua, Maui.  For me, this meant racing alongside over 800 other athletes, with 9 women in my 20-24 age group.

I arrived on Maui at around midday on Tuesday the 22nd October along with my trusty support crew – Mum, Dad and my sister Jemma. We hired a car, and headed north east around the island to our accommodation in Kahana; around 10mins drive from race HQ. I was fortunate enough to get in touch with a few of kiwi’s who were competing; largely through friends of friends. Two of whom were Nick and Judy Kensington. Possibly the loveliest people you could ever hope to meet. They had spent a year living in Maui, after competing in the World Champs the year before. Nick and Judy were awesome, and kind of ‘took me under their wing’ for the last few days leading up to the race. I was able to go over the swim course with them a few times, as well as the bike and run course. I biked the MTB course on Wednesday with Judy and although it was soon clear that the course was fairly tough, and it turned out to be longer than previous years; but we just cruised around and had an awesome afternoon. It turned out that biking the course on Wednesday was a wise decision, as the heat only worsened over the next couple of days, and being such a long, tough course, my tapering would not have been as effective if I had tackled it a day or two later.
On Thursday I meandered around the run course after a morning swim and I was stoked to discover that most of the hill climbing was over and done with in the first half of the run. After completing the run on Thursday I had now seen the entire course, and I was super excited. It was going to be very hot, but a lot of fun! Leading up to the race I was careful to taper well and stuck closely to the programme that had been set for me by Brendon (Thanks Brendon!). This meant that when it came to race day on Sunday, not only was my body well rested, but I was mentally amping for a race! Bring it on!!!
The race started at 9am, after a quick blessing from a local chief and the American national anthem. The pro’s started us off, bang on 9am. Two minutes later it was the men and after a further two minutes I found myself sprinting into the water with the women’s field. I was pretty happy with my swim, and I came out of the water first in my age group; still feeling pretty fresh. The conditions were the calmest they had been all week with next to no surf!
The 32 km mountain bike started off awesome also. The first few miles were mostly uphill with plenty of meandering corners and sandy patches; making for a slow but interesting first few miles. The course was also pretty congested with competitors, adding to the challenge. I held a pretty consistent place amongst the bikers around me in the first few miles and was happy with how I was going. After reaching the highest point of the race, we began the first major descent. All was going well until we hit a steep section of single track that had a fair few tight corners and sandy patches. It was here that things got a wee bit nasty for a few of us!! I seemed to be in a relatively big group of riders at the time which I found tricky (I definitely need more practise riding in bunches). At one point during a downhill section my handle bars clipped a tree and the next thing I knew I was down a bank with my bike on top of me. No major injuries though so climbed back up, checked my chain and gears, and jumped back on… only to fall straight back off and down the bank... again. I hadn’t even notice that my seat had been twisted 90 degrees in the first fall, so when I went to get back on my butt slipped straight back off again, duuuhhh!!
I was still all in one piece though (mostly), and my bike was still in order other than the fact that my handle bars had been turned so far that they had been forced over the top tube. I have since deduced that this came about when the handle bar jabbed me in the ribs. After a few seconds of pulling and a bit of swearing under my breath; I managed to correct them. And this time I was careful to straighten my seat! After having a wee giggle to myself about my ‘muppet’ moment I was back on the bike. I had lost a bit of time with this incident though and was now a bit sore. I was also now missing my drink bottle, and a couple of GU’s which had become dislodged during the tumbles.
Why it pays to stay on your bike...
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the last of the blonde moments (perhaps I should try dyeing my hair another colour). After reaching an aid station and getting another Gatorade bottle into my bottle cage, I was hot and thirsty and desperately wanted a cold drink... but I should have waited for a more convenient time. Riding downhill with one hand on the handle bars and one hand holding a bottle is not a smart move; over handle bars again, and this time onto stones. Rats!

My trusty bike and I were still all good though so I didn’t lose too much time. The biggest knock I got this time was a knock to my confidence. Knowing that I still had over an hour to go on the bike, and then 10ks of trail running, meant that I was now just keen to get through without any more major falls. Stepping back my speed on the downhill meant that I was able to get through more or less unscathed (only one minor fall when I hit a deep patch of sand). And after some more climbing, meandering, and a few downhill sections, I was back to T2, and was in third place in my division.

Because I had backed off a bit of the last section of the ride, my legs still felt pretty fresh. I loved the run, and managed to make up some of the time I lost on the bike. There were a lot of people really struggling with the intense heat on the run so I was able to pass a fair few (although mainly men). Although we had tattoos on our calves illustrating out division, it was really hard to see them by this stage of the race and I was unsure about where I was placed in the field. Overall the run was incredibly hot, but relatively uneventful. Seeing the finish line in any race is the best feeling ever , but on a scorching day like today, in the company of such fantastic athletes and with my family watching on from the side of the finishing chute, it was extra special. I was incredibly stoked to gain 2nd place in the 20-24 age group, and also the 3rd fastest under 25 finisher. Not only had I completed the race and absolutely loved it, I had achieved my goal of finishing in the top 3 in the world, in my age group. Stoked.
I just want to thank everyone who helped me get there and make it all happen. Thanks to my sponsors; Lysaght consultants, Cycle Obsession, Smiths Sport Shoes, and Ocean Blue Gym for your support. Also, thanks to the entire North Harbour Triathlon Club, and in particular those who I have been training with a lot. The North Harbour Squad has been an awesome and very welcoming club to be a part of since moving to Auckland earlier this year, and I have met the most amazing, inspirational and hardworking people. Also thanks to those back at home in the BOP, including my awesome team mate ‘Crazy’ Craig Jones, Steve Lake, and many others who have helped me out with trainings, advice and encouragement; it has all meant a lot. I would also like to make mention of the Hoare family (family friends of ours from Te Puke) who adjusted their travel plans to come over to Maui and cheer me on. Thanks guys!
Last but certainly not least, thanks to my family (also known as my support crew, photographers, managers, organisers, and well actually everything-ers). You guys are awesome and I am stoked you all jumped at the opportunity to come over and share the experience with me. Oh, and we are already planning for another trip next year hopefully!!! Wooohooo!

I hope to have a further post up in the next few days, just looking back at the journey to Xterra. But for now, you can find more photos and information here: