Nick Hirschfeld- Pre Routeburn Interview

Natural progression- that is what Nick Hirschfeld will be looking to make come Saturday at the 2012 Routeburn Classic . Nick finished  3rd in 2009 (3hr02) and then last year Nick had a huge time improvement, running 2hr52, good enough for 2nd (the fastest 2nd place finisher ever and would have won every other Routeburn Classic, bar the time Richard Ussher set his, at the time, course record). Nick was nice enough to make some time for us this week and give us a little insight into his chances of nabbing the win this year.
Backcountry Runner- Nick, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. This will be your 3rd Routeburn Classic. No doubt the goal will be to go one better  than last year! How has your build up to the Routeburn been? How has training been going for you?

Nick Hirschfeld- 
The Routeburn is my favourite course and it would be great to win it. While far from ideal with the usual mix of injuries, sickness, work and family commitments, I’ve had a better buildup than last year and am confident of my preparation heading into the race.
 BCR- What have you been up to since last year’s impressive run at the Routeburn? What races have kept you busy over the last 12 months?
Nick- After last year’s Routeburn I did the Totalsport Xterra Auckland Trail Run series of 6 races over winter – taking out the super-long course title. I also did the Coromandel Classic multisport race in a team and the Xterra Trail Challenge, before cross-training through injury in order to maintain my fitness for the Xterra Trail Running World Champs in Hawaii in December. It was a tough race – fast, hilly, hot and humid and I collapsed over the line in 14th overall, but more importantly 1st in my age-group! It was an amazing experience and one I’m keen to repeat, but we’ll only go back when my wife Leah is injury free and able to race too.
 BCR- Has this year’s Routeburn been the main goal for the summer, or are you currently working towards a bigger goal?
Nick- My main goal for summer was to win the Coastal Challenge which is a 33km entirely coastal run (with plenty of swimming, wading and rock hopping) along Auckland’s North Shore. I survived the 2 main swim sections (not a strength of mine J) and caned the rock-hopping to win by 5 minutes against some top competition. Another goal for summer was to complete my first off-road marathon, but a virus put paid to that halfway through The Dual on Motutapu Island in the Hauraki Gulf. My next attempt may have to be an ultra trail run like the Kepler! The Routeburn is my 2nd big race of the year and the Xterra Trail Challenge will be the next big one.
BCR- What lessons have you learnt in you 2 previous outings over the course that you think might help give you the edge this Saturday?
Nick- I should be better able to manage my exertion throughout the race so I don’t cook myself too soon. Knowing the course better means I’m confident to run my own race and not feel the need to follow others.
 BCR- Being Auckland based how do you train for the those steep, rocky, technical sections of trail (asks the ignorant South Islander…)? To run a 2hr52 Routeburn you have to be very good on this terrain!
Nick- I grew up tramping the South Island’s great walks and some of the skills learnt have helped me with trail/mountain running.  I’ve always enjoyed rock-hopping, coastal running and technical terrain. Auckland’s blessed with lots of coastline and a few good forests, just no hills close to me that take more than 10 minutes to run up. I’ve been called a Kamikaze downhiller and the Routeburn has plenty of technical descents – so I’ll be enjoying those!
 BCR- The field is packed! Who do you see as your biggest competition on Saturday?
Nick- While we’ll be missing you, Bevan Stevens and James Kuegler (all top 4 last year), my job won’t be any easier with James Coubrough and Vajin Armstrong competing. They are definitely 2 of the best trail / mountain runners in the country – both have represented NZ and should be the top 2 seeds in any impartial punter’s book. Although Braden Currie, Adrian Bailey and I will all be doing our best to cause an upset. BCR- Thanks Nick! We will be cheering for you from afar come Saturday morning!
Nick- Thanks and all the best with your trail running adventures!

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