The Wuu2k 43k Ultramarathon! Well, you could say that coming into this race I was totally unprepared for the distance and effort required for this race! The race was held mid-July, so mid-winter here in New Zealand.
I had completed my first 50km race the February before at Tarawera, which went really well. This should have set me up to be fully prepared for this race! However, with a 6 week holiday abroad, over training once back, and suffering with a knee injury, this meant my training went completely out the window.
Starting Line of wuu2k
Standing at the start line of the wuu2k with my friend and Rob, I was getting nervous. The distance was less than I had done at Tarawera a few months back, but the elevation was way more. The 2000 metres of elevation across a 43km distance was going to be tough!
As we all set off from the start line, Rob zoomed off ahead, while my friend and I kept a steady pace.
The first major climb of the race is straight out from the start line, up to the top of Mt Kaukau! Everyone was walking this section, which I was very glad of, as I needed to conserve my energy for later in the race.
Once we got to the top of the climb we were welcomed to an amazing view over Wellington and the first of the photographers.
The next section was over the Skyline track, with some technical downhills and undulating hills. My friend went on ahead at this point to enjoy the downhill part, while I went a nice steady pace. After about 5 or 6km, I saw my friend up ahead. As soon as I caught up with her, we decided we would run together for the next section. Having someone to run with made this next section go super quite. Before long we were on the downhill to the first aid station.
Makara hill road Aid Station
My friend was already at the aid station by the time I got there, as she had run on ahead to enjoy the downhill. Her husband was aiming to meet us at all aid stations to give us the moral support we needed. At this point in the race, I was feeling pretty good. Next was the big climb up to Makara peak. This was a steep climb which my friend and I walked up. Before long we were at the top, taking photo of the amazing views before heading down to the next aid station. This next downhill to the aid station is where my problems started! As I was running down the 4-wheel drive track I could feel my shins starting to get sore. I tried to keep my speed down for the rest of the way down, but I think the damage had already been done. By the time I got to the bottom and the aid station, both my shin were feeling very sore.
Makara car park Aid Station
While at the aid station I made sure I had some food (which I had neglected to this point) and did some stretches. There was nothing more I could do about my shins now, so my friend and I continued on up Wrights hill. This was a steady climb all the way to the top which we walked most of it. Once at the top, the views were amazing! You could see all the way to the wuu2k finish on Mt Victoria.
This was the point my friend went on ahead, as I was really struggling to run due to my shins being so painful. This next section down from wrights hill and along the Zealandia fenceline was the lowest point in the race for me. My mind kept telling me I couldn’t keep going, and my shins were so sore I couldn’t run. By the time I got to the Wind Turbine aid station, I had convinced myself I couldn’t continue.
Wind Turbine Aid Station (Hitting the Wuu2k wall)
My friends husband was there at the aid station and saw the dilemma I was going through. He really helped to calm me down and made me realize it wasn’t as bad as my mind was telling me. The words which he said that stuck in my head were “It’s 6km to the next aid station, do you think you can make that?”. That was all I needed for my inner stubbornness to kick in as I thought “I can do 6km, even if I walk it, I will make it!”
After thanking my friends husband for his help, I was on my way again! I am not sure if it was the stretches I did, or my mental determination but I found I could actually run again! I was only able to run slight incline/declines and flats before my shins started hurting again, but I could at least run again! I slowly made my way along the next bit of single track running wherever I could to try make up some time. Then I saw the top of the Tip Track up ahead with the Grim Reaper at the top! I loved the way the volunteers and organisers of the wuu2k really got into the spirit of this race, it really helped boost my moral to keep going!
The way down the tip track was a lot harder on my shins. I was mainly walking most sections, with a half run shuffle for the rest. On the way down I got chatting to someone who had twisted their knee, and had to walk the rest of the race to the finish. This determination really boosted me mentally and made me feel guilty that I had been so easily willing to give up! If he could walk his way to the finish line, I was certain I could walk/run shuffle my way there as well!
So I continued doing my run shuffle the rest of the way to the bottom, where I saw my friends husband waiting for me. He had wanted to make sure I was ok and that I was able to make it to the finish. By this point my mind had been made up. I was going to finish the race even if I had to crawl across the finish line!
Tawatawa Aid Station
While stopping at the aid station to grab some food and top up my water, I caught up with one of the volunteers. I wanted to find out what the next bit of track was like so I could mentally prepare myself for what was to come. After thanking the volunteer, I set off up the next hill climb.
This next section of the wuu2k was pretty hard going, with the climb up and over the Tawatawa reserve down the steps on the other side then on towards Mt Albert. There was a lot more road crossings on this last section to the finish line and more urban running but the hills weren’t as big, which I was very thankful of. After what seemed like a long time, I was finally at the last road crossing before climbing up towards Mt Victoria, and the finish line. This was a really nice bit of forest with the path zigzagging all the way up to the finish line.
Finish Line at wuu2k
Before long I had crested the last hill and I saw the crowds and the last straight to the finish line. I gathered the last bit of strength I had to run across the finish line! I had made it!
The part is a bit of a blur as my emotions over whelmed me. I can remember having my medal placed over my head then my friend was there giving me a hug! With my vision blurred with tears, I stumbled my way into the finish area, glad to have completed the hardest race I had ever done.
I was so thankful for all the volunteers and organisers who had pulled out all the stops to help everyone get through the wuu2k and make the day enjoyable. Their encouragement along the way really helped when things got tough. Also the support from my friend and her husband really made it. I don’t know if I would have made it to the finish if it wasn’t for both of them.
The wuu2k was an awesome race which I would highly recommend to anyone but proper training is needed before attempting this. For more information about the race visit the race homepage http://www.wuu2k.co.nz/.