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XTERRA Trail Challenge Waihi Preview

The XTERRA Trail Challenge Waihi is coming up this weekend and local lad Darren Blackwell has written an excellent race preview for BCR-

Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park is a 37,000 hectare skinny strip of green stretching from Waihi in the north to the Mamaku Plateau in the south. October 13th see’s Total Sport hosting the Xterra Trail Challenge in the Karangahake Gorge,10 minutes out of Waihi. There are five distances on offer- 7.3k,13k,19k,42.2k and for the first time a 60k ultra. The event base is at Dickey’s Flat, 5km up the Waitawheta Valley, with the area hosting a lot of history, with old mining and logging relics throughout all the courses.
The 19k is also the National Trail Running Champs.The course starts with an awesome 5k down the steep sided Waitawheta Gorge crossing three swing bridges and going through a 100m long old miners tunnel. It is then basically a loop up (not to the top) around Mt Karangahake. The climb up is gradual and very runnable with a lightening fast downhill followed by another short uphill.Then it is 4km of a super fun and technical downhill to the finish. Apart from this last section, it is not an overly very technical course and will suit runners with fast leg speed. At the sharp end it will be a great battle between James Kuegler, Nick Hirschfeld, 

Vicki Wooley training on the Waihi course. Photo- runningwildnz.com

Jono Jackson and top South Island runner Vajin Armstrong  (Late entry in the men’s race is NZ mountain running rep Glenn Hughes, who is also in good form). 
In the woman’s 19km race, Lesley Turner Hall is in good form after her recent win in the Arthur Lydiard Marathon.There is a rumour that former New Zealand Mountain Running title holder Ruby Muir will race after a very long injury lay off.
The marathon runners venture south for a 22k loop with lots of river crossings and swing bridges. After getting back to Dickey Flat they then run the 19k course. The blokes will have to be on their toes,because chasing them hard will be Vicky Plaistowe who is another top runner coming back after injury and using this as part of her Kepler build up.  Lesley Turner Hall (with what sounds like a little nudge from Mal Law this past weekend) is now lining up in the marathon also. 
The Xterra Trail Challenge is also set to host Total Sports first ultra race and it’s a beauty, with the 5am start gives a clue how tough it will be. Starting with a cool 2k single track, don’t bother dodging the mud as after 2k you come to the first of about 12 un-bridged river crossings. At about the 3k point is the first wee uphill pinch of the day. They aren’t huge hills in the Kaimai’s but they do seem to take the most direct route.(no switch backs here). At 12k there is a 2h20 cut off and another of those short sharp inclines to the top of Ananui Falls. It’s a pity the race route misses the view from the top but as you’re screaming down the ridge on the other side look left (if you dare) and you will see this awesome waterfall. The trails in the Kaimais for the most part are under the canopy which after rain can make it very slippery. It’s also very rooty, rutted and rocky in places and the next 10k is on some of the most technical tracks in the forest. In places more tree roots than terra firma. This section will require maximin focus to avoid tripping up, especially if you have tired heavy legs. You are then rewarded with a sweet but rocky 5k gradual downhill on the Waitawheta Tramline. Another uphill to Daly’s Clearing then a very sweet technical single track, with a steep downhill thrown in for good measure. Back to Dickey Flat and another cut off point(8hrs) and the final 19k loop. This is where I think the race starts, if you get to Dickey’s in

BCR contributor Blacky leading the way on a recent Waihi training run over the Ultra course. Photo- runningwildnz.com

good shape physically and mentally the trail surface on this loop will seem like a walk in the park and you can open it up and go for it.

The obvious favourite for the 60km is another southern invader Grant Guise who after recent wins in the Canadian Death Race (125k) and the Yurribilla 56k ultra, will be in top form and race fit. Chasing hard will be local runner Dennis de Monchy who thrives in this technical running and Kristian Day who has the mighty Kawekas for his training ground. Also in the mix will be Aucklander Steve Neary who is also in good form after a recent super fast Hillary Trail. There are not too many ladies willing to take this on,but of those that are, Waitakere trail running legend Vicki Wooley will be hard to beat.
The underfoot conditions in the forest are near perfect at present and with distances for everyone’s ability it’s going to be epic.
Who’s excited?
BCR is planing some race day coverage of the XTERRA Trail Challenge Waihi, but this will be dependent on a few things falling into place. Mostly reliable cell phone coverage and Jane balancing between playing mum and being able to get around to different spots on the course and get the updates out. If nothing else we will have some updates on Saturday evening. Keep an eye on our Facebook page- facebook.com/TheBackcountryRunner and our Twitter page @bcrunz
Track/condition’s/weather update- feed back from over the weekend from Malcom Law and Dennis de Monchy indicates the trails around Waihi will be a bit wetter and muddier than they were looking 7-10 days ago. The weather forecast is also looking wet….

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2 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Xterra Champs Predicition
    I refuse to call this a National Championship. If they want that, then hold it as a stand alone race and not dilute the field across 5 events. Still, it’ll be a good race with some top runners.

    Based on the course description this course is suited to runners. Jono Jackson is easily the fastest in the field. A 4th place at NZXC in 2011 and a solid run at the NZ 1/2 Mary Champs and numerous other Road wins should make him favorite. Add to that the number of sections where you’re required to walk will mean he’s able to recover a bit and use his speed to best effect.

    Glenn Hughes took a beating at the hands of Nick H on the technical Routeburn course earlier in the year, but a season in Europe might see him turn the tables and take 2nd. Will be close though.

    Expect Nick and Vajin to go toe to toe until the technical 4k down hill where in the wet (predicited) Nick will pull away for 3rd.

    The non technical nature of the 1st 1/2 could see Vajin try and put the pressure on, plus he loves running uphill, so maybe he can make a good enough break to podium. Expect to see a gap after those 4.

  2. We also need to add Marjolein Ros to the woman’s 19km race! Marjolein was selected for the NZ Mt running team, but ended up representing her home land the Netherlands. If Ruby (and/or if LTH switches back to the 19km) expect a good race here also.

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A Backcountry Running Community for New Zealand trail, mountain and ultra runners- We want this to be the place you come for all things trail running including race previews and reports, interviews with New Zealand runners and hopefully a whole lot more! Our aim is to provide as much original content- previews/reports/interviews on New Zealand trail, mountain and ultra races. We can't be everywhere- so feel free to get in touch if you have the scoop on a race or event.

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