Riverhead Xterra

It’s easy to fall out of love with running. You get stuck doing the same routes, seeing the same sights. You get stuck running on roads, pavements, which jar your knees and back. The weather takes a turn and you get fed up of being cold and wet. With no races planned you’ve got no focus, no purpose to pushing yourself through those final few miles.

Then you have the days where you get in the flow, and it makes sense why you get out of bed.. Sunday was one of those days for me.

Following a few drinks at a brewery, I’d agreed to enter the Xterra middle distance race, taking place the next Sunday up at Riverhead Regional Park. It was mainly a chance to get out early and see a new place around Auckland in my final few weeks.

With 400 other people taking part in the middle distance, I nudged myself nearer the front after spotting the narrow start and guessing it would only get narrower. What followed was 13 kilometres of trail and mud in some glorious southern-hemisphere winter sun and crisp air.

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The route wound it’s way on a combination of stoney trail (with bee-hives lining sections of the route, adding a certain thrill) and long sections through the trees on particularly hazardous-on-the-ankle sections. I was glad to be wearing trail Salomon’s, judging by some of the mud-caked finishers in slick roadies.

The hills disappeared under the legs with ease. I still need to work on some of the more technical downhill sections, but for big chunks I just flowed down. Muddy, sweaty, exhausted, the fun had come back to running.

Below: no-one likes flash photography 12.9km into a race

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