02 February 2008

Epic Camp NZ '08 Day 7 - Queenstown

Epic NZ ’08 Day 7 – Queenstown

I have so many memories of this place.
This is a magical little part of the world.
When I first met Erin she had a holiday house here in a suburb called Sunshine Bay with a glorious view of Lake Wakitipu. We spent a lot of time here during the NZ summers of ’88 – ’93 before our first child came along. The days are long and hot here and the desert lizard in me loves it. We usually didn’t’ have any important races that were imminent either so the training was long and leisurely. So I suppose my view of the routes we were going to use on this camp was through rose colored glasses!

My old friend John Knight lives here and is one of the owners of a shop called Outside Sports which is one of the finest outdoor sports shops I’ve ever been in. They have everything a climber, runner, backpacker, camper, skier, cyclist, etc could want. The South Island is home to quite a few apparel companies that produce some wonderful and practical Merino wool garments and its plentiful in a dozen shops here in Queenstown.

The run we did today I did back in ’89 with Colleen Cannon (remember her? Go to www.womensquest.com to see what she’s up to now. Fabulous camps.) and her husband Howard and Erin. We also ran the Routeburn track that summer and Colleen always brought along little treats to feed us along the way. We did this route in the reverse direction that we did today and I vaguely remember it being a full day out.
I thought it might be around 2.5-3 hours and it did turn out to be just that for the few of us who didn’t take any wrong turns. Unfortunately hardly anyone went the right way!
We left town at 7am and went straight up to the Ben Lomond Saddle which is approx 3,000ft up. Lots of it was power walking. Its steep.
Once we hit the top is was quite a bit cooler and we started the long descent down the Moonlight track towards Arthurs Point. The track is pretty narrow, mostly covered in tussock and hard to follow at times at this point. It could use a little more maintenance from the Rangers and certainly much better sign posting. At approx the 2:30 point into the run I saw the group who was ahead of me about 400 feet below me at the bottom of a ravine. That ravine was covered in gorse and stinging nettles and it looked like they were in for a very long day as I waved good-bye!
Up ahead Clive ripped the crap out of everyone on the descents and was gone. I ended up with a running time of 3:05 and can’t imagine doing it in anything under 2:45 even when fit and fresh.
The stragglers came in after 4 hours. HUGE! Damn tough day after what we’ve been up to in the previous week.

A quick couple of beers to recover (?? was it just me again ??) and some breakfast and we were off to the pool. I don’t think anyone did more than 3k today. No one drowned which was a little surprising.

Then lunch and a few minutes to get the feet up and it was time for a 2pm roll-out for the ride. Sunny 24 degrees C and no wind. Beautiful Otago summer day. The route today was straight over to the road up to the Coronet Peak ski area to begin with. Since we’re doing a tri that goes up there tomorrow G-Man figured it was a good idea to let everyone preview the route to see what they were in for. Since I hadn’t ridden it in approx 15 years I forgot how damn hard it is. Its 8km up at 10-12% for the most part. I was melting.
Beven disappeared up the road again pretty quickly with support crew MacAteer, then John Drury came by, then Gordo, then Newsom and then nearly everyone else caught by the top.
Just for the record – I thought having a KOM up that monster climb today was a bit much. A nice little tour of the area with a stop in Arrowtown for a nice coffee and scone would have been my choice for the day but “the committee” seemed to have other ideas.

After the descent we back-tracked the bike route to Lake Hayes so everyone could see the route for the tri tomorrow. Huge day. Way harder than I thought it would be. As we were having dinner G-Man totaled up the points for the camp and it looks like Albert would have to either crash or DNF in out tri tomorrow not to take Yellow.
However I am only a point behind Johnny and Tara is only a couple of points behind me so we should have a nice little battle tomorrow for the podium. Actually…….…
it would take a small miracle for me to hang with Johnny on that mountain we’re going up again. He’s going very well now. And that’s great to see because he’s never actually completed an entire Epic before. Now that he has I feel like he has a little more compassion for our fellow campers like G-Man and I have since we’ve suffered through every camp. As he starts to put on his own camps this year I think he’ll probably use good doses of prudence and caution with his selection of routes and training sessions.
Tomorrow is our camp Tri. After breakfast we’ll spin the 15km out to the start. The race will be a swim of at least 3km in lake Hayes, a ride over to and up Coronet Peak and a run to the top of the mountain on the CAT track dirt access rd. The finish line is approx 3,000 ft. above the lake. Should be a doozy!