The 14th Annual Goldrush multisport race has been and gone for another year. This 375km event takes competitors in running shoes and kayaks, and on road and mountain bikes, through some of the best country in Central Otago. It is still considered by many to be the toughest endurance event to complete as an individual on the NZ multisport scene and this year it was my fourth time participating solo in as many years.
Day one involves a 30km flat water kayak, a 35km mountain bike and an 18km run. The weather was mostly a lot cooler than in previous years and I was very relieved to arrive at the Upper Manorburn overnight finish line in 5 ½ hours. This gave me a lead of around 20 minutes over 2nd placed Adam Milne who was coming off a recent win in the Speight’s Coast to Coast two day event.
Camping at the Upper Manorburn is always an experience that lasts in my memory of each Goldrush event. It is wonderful to relax and talk to support crews, fellow competitors and friends as night time approaches and the bodies are put to rest with two days of racing remaining.
We awoke to mild conditions on day two and my body felt better than it has ever felt after the first day of Goldrush. This has to be good sign that my body is becoming better accustomed to sustained high intensity racing. It meant I was able to go with the early pace set by Gavin Mason who had time to catch up on Adam after the first day - the two seemed to be locked into a battle with each of them possessing differing strengths. Day two is the long day, with over 100km of mountain biking as well as a time trial on road bikes and a 15km run along the Rail Trail, it can really make or break a Goldrush athlete’s entire race.
I was able to work with Gavin through the first two cycling stages before pulling away on the run and finally the 58km mountain bike through Thompson’s Gorge, which connects Lauder to Tarras and the finish of the second day. The run is a highlight for me on day two as it takes competitors along the famous Rail Trail and through two old train tunnels where you can easily run into a wall in the pitch black darkness if you are not careful!
I decided to head back to my own bed in Wanaka for the night between days two and three. A luxury compared to camping in tents for a second night, and the shower I had when I got home made the 20 minute drive instantly worthwhile! We had a spectacular thunder and lightning storm during the early hours of Sunday morning which was exciting, but also meant my sleep hours become limited (the thunder was very loud!). Lucky for us, the weather passed over and had cleared by the time I arrived back at the start line in Tarras at 7am Monday morning, Otago Anniversary Day.
Day three starts with a 42km road cycle which was tough as usual with the last two days sitting uncomfortably in my legs and bum, but it’s also typically cold at dawn here in Central Otago. Instantly it was Gav, Adam and me riding off at our own pace and warming up the muscles very quickly. We pumped through the ride in just over an hour and were quickly into kayaks and taking on 39km of the green grade two waters of the Clutha River.
I was able to build a lead in the kayak and was confident that unless things went disastrously wrong, I only had to survive the 50km road cycle and 11km run to win the race. I rode the 50km solo and only got passed by team runner Adrian Bailey at the start of the 11km run to the finish line in Alexandra’s Molyneux Park. In the end I won my 3rd Goldrush title in as many years in a time of 17 hours 21 minutes, the third fastest time across all categories including teams. This was over 1 hour and 18 minutes ahead of 2nd placed Gav Mason with Adam Milne only 20 seconds behind in 3rd.
The Goldrush is a special race to me and it was wonderful to be involved again. Though the future seems uncertain for the race I am confident it will happen in 2011. The course and the people involved deserve good attendance from the NZ multisport public and it will be good to see more involved in the 15th edition of Goldrush in March next year.
Thanks to my support crew and sponsors for your loyalty and assistance along the way!