Wild Earth Ascent 1/2 Marathon- AT’s Report

Wild Earth Ascent 1/2 Marathon Race Report by Andrew Town.
The inaugural Wild Earth Ascent  mountain adventure race held on Saturday 14th June was everything I had hoped for; steep climbs, technical trails, fast downhills and an element of danger that demanded caution and care- a fall on the treacherous rocky downhill sections of this course with bluffs and razorback ridges and you would probably die. 
Andrew running along the top of Mt Difficult, with The Remarkables in the distance.

Andrew running along the top of Mt Difficult, with The Remarkables in the distance.

Race Director,Terry Davis had promised a course that was not going to be for the faint hearted and he surely delivered here! He had already warned prospective entrants that if they didn’t turn up with the correct gear that was suitable for the unpredictable and demanding course then he would quote, “assume they were a doofus’s and not let them on the mountain”, sound advice indeed from a man who knows ’mountain running’ and how to challenge competitors!

There was the option of the full marathon or the half marathon course and I had opted to do the half marathon which was effectively a big loop incorporating running up and over Mt Difficulty, the marathoners would do the same loop and then continue on a different loop again that would prove to be just as difficult and technical as the first!
My plan leading into the race was to try and stay with pre race marathon favourites, Grant Guise and Simon Green. If I could keep close to them or at least keep them both in my sights, then  I was going to be happy.
At 8am just as it was getting light the race started and the marathoners and half marathoners set off together. There was a short relatively fast 5km loop to get us warmed up and this incorporated the traditional Rustic Run loop. From here it was straight into a scary 500m of vertical gained in just over 1km of distance travelled. At this point in the race the field had spread out and as we got into the business of climbing a few bodies trailed off and others asserted their climbing prowess.
Andrew descending, before it got actually got steep.

Andrew descending, before it got actually got steep.

Simon Green had advanced into the lead closely followed by Grant Guise and then myself. By the mid point  of the climb the three leaders had extended their lead, Simon had taken control and I was desperately hanging onto him, Grant was a bit further back and was unbelievably taking photo’s and posting them to Facebook as he was racing!!

We continued the climb and by the summit of the mountain Simon had asserted a 2 minute lead on myself,  Grant was a similar distance behind me and there was a gap to the following runners.
From here there was a very fast downhill section of several kilometres, it was open 4 wheel drive farm track, very muddy and slippery, the right choice of footwear here was going to be imperative to staying upright. I managed to catch Simon and just as I did we were unsure of the course and stopped to ensure we stayed on the marked course, Grant caught up by now and between the 3 of us we relocated the markers and got going again.
We pretty much stayed together for the next  couple of kilometres of downhill, it was great fun and we were bolting down hill quite fast.
 Eventually the track forked off to the left and so began the really fun part as  the downhill suddenly became technically challenging, steep and rocky.
Shortly we  came across a sign calling for ‘extreme care !!!’ we had been advised by Terry and Ed that this was a dangerous part of the course. Grant took the lead now and suddenly changed gears and took off, I took off with him and soon we had put a gap on Simon who was taking time at preserving his life no doubt!!
Below the rocky section and back on the relatively flat stuff.

Below the rocky section and back on the relatively flat stuff. Photo- Eyetoeye-

Just as I jostled past Grant I heard someone talking behind me ???…what was that I’m thinking, I glance around and see Grant has taken a phone call and is apparently chatting to Race Director Terry Davis!!!….

I’m gobsmacked that here we are on some of the most kick arse trail in NZ, mid race and Grant is nonchalantly having a conversation with the Race organisers, funny!!
At the base of the mountain there is a short fast 2 kilometres to complete the first lap of the Marathon and the finish of the Half Marathon. I’m a minute or so ahead and make for home as fast as I can now to the finish, I’m happy to take out the Half Marathon title.
Grant arrives at the finish area and sets off on his second lap, he’s looking comfortable and begins the next climb making it look easy in the process.
Grant he goes on to win the Marathon, while Simon is next in to the start finish area and although he was down to run the Marathon distance he decides to finish at the completion of the Half.

About Andrew Town

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