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Big Day, no joke!

Updated: Sep 28, 2018

Big day at the Office 2013, tick. I did ask myself if I would actually rather be doing a big day at the office or covering the 125km’s around Methven’s countryside, and you’ll be pleased to know I decided on the latter! (Although I do really enjoy my job!)

Big Day at the Office is an endurance race based around Methven and the foothills, run by the local Lions group. It consisted of five different events, of which I did the individual multisport – 40km bike, 24km run through Mt Somers Track, 32km bike, 14km Kayak on the RDR (original course was on the Rakaia but true to form the good old Canterbury Nor’ Wester raised its ugly head) then a 15km bike to finish back in Methven. There was also the option to compete in a duathlon, run or a mountain marathon with the duathlon and multisport offering team options. With rain forecast, we were lucky that it was mostly blue skies, although I would take the rain over that wind any day!

Friday night at Mum and Dad’s was a run through of my transitions, so they knew what I meant when I said ‘blue camelback from the first bag to be taken out after transition one, refilled with electrolytes and put into kayak jacket!’. I had printed off a list with the main points, so Dad madly scribbled a zillion notes in handwriting only he could interpret, while Mum sat there with her hands over her face offering great one-liners to the tune of ‘you’re mad’, ‘I can’t watch’, ‘I feel sick’. I reassured her that I would be fine (fingers, toes, eyes crossed). Dad and I just laughed at her and surprisingly this was the least nervous I had felt all week! Too late now anyway!

A great friend Jacq who was also doing the race arrived late on Friday with a kayak she had picked up on her way through Temuka; not ideal but better than her kayak flying off from the wind on her travels north! A dust storm had Tom, her other half, out there cleaning her bike chain late into the night!! More than once we exchanged a ‘what are we doing!’ look followed by nervous laughter!

The day dawned after a solid seven-hour sleep (thank you Woodhouse genes); it was a quick pack and breakfast before heading out the door to registration and race briefing at Methven Resort. Dad followed on with the jetboat for much-anticipated after-race activities!! Things all went to plan, and after what felt like the 10th bathroom stop we were sitting patiently on our bikes waiting for the start.

Lesson #1 of the day: Don’t start at the back of the bunch!! What was I thinking?! The group took off; I tried to catch them but had left my run too late. I did my best but decided I was wasting too much energy so cruised along and waited for the bunch behind me to catch up. This was a sage decision as I was able to share the work with five other people and I came into the first transition feeling not too bad at all!

Dad greeted me (I did wonder if he thought I was ever going to turn up!), helped me change my gear and I was off for the run through the Mount Somers Track. There was approximately a 3.5km flat gravel road run before entering the bush and heading up over the ridge. I was feeling OK, taking on some food and gels and enjoying the view (code for catching my breath and stretching some very tight calves!). The run took me 3.40, a little longer than I expected but the aim of this day was not to smash myself, instead enjoy it and keep smiling. I really enjoyed the run; it was quite wet and slippery coming down, so there was a lot of getting on my bum and sliding down. Damn you short legs! But I reached the road and ran the 2.5km out to the Stavely store where my fantastic support crew was patiently waiting for me. They had had plenty of opportunities to see how it was done before I turned up, so I was super impressed with how quickly and ordered everything was! Mum had overcome her anxiety and had shown face. I must admit I had a lump in my throat when I saw all my family there waiting – I quickly pulled myself together; this was not the time for emotion!

Off on the bike, I had a slight tailwind (I swear this was the only time the wind was in my favour!) and I managed to get to the kayak transition in quite a good time. With the change in the course from the Rakaia River to the RDR (Rangitata Diversion Race; a wide irrigation ditch for those non-south islanders!) meant this bike leg was now longer than initially planned. Three more legends had now joined my support crew, so it was very exciting getting on to the water with plenty of vocal support. I was roughly halfway up (14km there and back) when a guy passed me saying ‘your friends are waiting at the top for you having a beer’! Yes, that’s definitely my support crew!

I’m not going to lie; I didn’t enjoy the kayak at all! It was all strength work up into the headwind and against the flow and only slightly easier on the way back. But I had plenty of terrible jokes from the bank to keep me going and even managed to see more of Scottie’s posterior than I would have liked (I have no idea what the guy behind me thought!).

Coming into my final transition, I realised just how important my support crew were. I was feeling tired, but Ben literally pulled me out of my boat and I was pushed up the hill. The legs were a wee bit wobbly, but I could run (unlike others whose legs just collapsed beneath them!). I didn’t even think about my top getting wet, so quickly changed (yes I am sorry this wasn’t on the list, poor support crew!) but my zip got stuck so Jacq gave me the top she was wearing! It seemed chaotic but it was hilarious, and I was off on my bike and heading home for the final stretch.

Wind you couldn’t break me now! 15km left back into Methven with the end in sight. It was a great feeling riding into the Resort and around to cross the finish line. You beauty, done and dusted! I loved this race, the Lions had done a fantastic job of running it, and the weather could have been a lot worse! I was no champion, but it has given me the confidence that Coast to Coast isn’t going to be so bad after all. Big ups have to go to my awesome support crew; nine hours is a long time to sit and wait for someone when you have no idea how long they are going to be and when you see them for such a short amount of time. I couldn’t have done it without them and knowing they were there waiting made it all worthwhile. So a big thanks to Dad, Mum (close call but she made it!), Ben, Gina, Felix, Scottie, Booker, Alex, Tom and Jacqs. If there was a support crew prize, you would have taken this out hands down. Your turn next year!

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