Luxmore Grunt- Andrew Town’s Record Run

Mountain running hard man and regular BCR contributor Andrew Town recounts the race that kicked off his mountain running career- the Luxmore Grunt, an annual 27km mountain run that is held in conjunction with the kepler Challenge in Te Anau. This is the second in a series of Kepler related posts in the lead up to the 25th annual Kepler Challenge.  “Kepler Challenge – Some Training & Racing Strategies“, by Russell Hurring HERE

“Luxmore Grunt- Andrew Town’s Record Run”

Sometime during the middle part of 1994 a good mate of mine rang me and asked me if I wanted to run the Avalanche Peak Challenge mountain running event (organised by Chris Cox of Christchurch) a gruelling 24km mountain race, starting and finishing in the small West Coast township of Arthur’s Pass, this race was scheduled to be held in February 1995.

This gave me 4 or 5 months to learn how to run mountains! and the Avalanche Peak was one hell of a mountain course! ….up until this point I had run cross country and trail races at an average pace and I had run one or two half marathons only, with a best time of 1hr 17 at the Christchurch Half Marathon.

As preparation for the Avalanche Peak race my friend suggested we do the Luxmore Grunt race in Te Anau scheduled for December 2004, “to get a feel for mountain running and see what it was all about”.

So, the scene was set and I was a tad nervous about my lack of experience to be honest……

Being based in Wanaka at the time I was in the right environment to train, mountains were literally at my doorstep and I commenced my training with vigour. Running off road felt good and I relished the trails and running up mountains and back down again. I contacted Geoff Hunt, a well respected mountaineer and ski racer and asked him to show me how to run up mountains well, but more importantly, how to run down them….fast!!

The siren went and we were off, Geoff Anderson (former NZ Cross Country Rep) set the pace and it was torid. I was running in 2nd place and I just wanted to keep up with Geoff, but this was not so easy.

At the base of the mountain we had run the first 5 km at 3.40 k pace, it felt way too quick for me and as soon as the climbing started Geoff gradually pulled away from the rest of us, I tried in vain to keep him in my sights, but he was a great uphill runner and he made this count and extended his lead.

I held onto 2nd place up the mountain climb and soon after I got out of the bush line I saw Geoff on the return journey, he had a significant lead when we passed each other and I was resigned to the fact that I probably wouldn’t see him again until the finish line. Imagine my surprise then when I caught him about halfway down the mountain! I bolted past him and dug deep to extend the lead knowing he would chase hard on the 5km flat section to the finish.

I got to the finish line in first place with Geoff a few minutes behind.

As soon as I finished an elderly gentlemen approached me and said I had broken the previous race record of 1hr 56min, held by Mark Elliot, by 2 minutes! He was surprised as he had watched Mark set the record and claimed then it would be hard to beat that time.

My record of 1hr 54 min 12secs stood for 14 years, before Phil Costley (running legend) broke it in 2008 by a further 2 minutes. Phil mentioned to me that it wasn’t easy for him to beat my record, this made me feel pretty good to know that I had extended this guy and he had to work hard to achieve his goal of breaking the record.

Andrew Town smashing it back in the 90′s around Queenstown

My key advice running the Luxmore:

In training try to emulate race conditions as much as possible by running trails and mountains, get the body accustomed to running uphill and downhill, try running downhill really fast and then push it even harder to get the body used to it, stay away from sealed roads and flat terrain as much as possible, quality training is the key and running along the highway will not help you much.

Nutriton is so vital, get used to running on a full stomach, eat and run regularly so as to get the body used to taking on fuel while running. The 3/4 days before the race are really important, eat well and choose foods that will give you stored energy, plenty of pasta, protein etc.

My strongest advice…back yourself!! the top two inches is what really counts, providing you have prepared as above, your mind is the biggest weapon in your arsenal, do not underestimate this…go for GOLD!

About our guest author- Andrew Town ended up winning the Avalanche Peak after his record run at Luxmore and set a new record for that as well! Andrew raced the Luxm0re Grunt 5 times in total for 3 wins a 2nd and a 3rd.  This year Andrew will return to Te Anau this year to tackle the Kepler Challenge for the first time.

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1 comment on this postSubmit yours
  1. Awesome article Andrew! very well written and lots of great tips on training and how to prepare for racing on mountains!
    Cheers, the LTH

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