Last weekend the stunning shores of Lake Taupo hosted the 2016 Hoka One One Kinloch Offroad Challenge. The course takes runners and walkers of all abilities along spectacular trails in and around Kinloch, Taupo. From a pleasant 5km walk to a competitive, hardcore off road marathon, this event has something awesome for everyone!
HOKA ONE ONE NZ athlete Jo Johansen took out the number one female spot in the marathon distance with an impressive time of 3:29:36. Jo's race report gives you a fantastic race-day insight from not only a competitor's, but a WINNER'S perspective.
Even if you don't run to win like Jo, the 2016 Hoka One One Kinloch Offroad Challenge is for ANYONE who enjoys getting out amongst the beautiful New Zealand outdoors!
"I was drawn back to this race by the beauty of the course and its super organised team of Total Sport and Hoka One One NZ. I brought a couple of mates with me this time to experience the event- knowing how much they would enjoy the course and the atmosphere.
Driving through the Central Plateau the weather was looking average, but not cold or snowing like the Taupo Marathon! There are so many decisions to make before a race like what shoes to wear? What clothes to wear? Will i take a pack or a hand held?
Like most races, you pack more then expected.
Last year I put on a pair of Hoka Speedgoats straight out of the box (brand new) and ran in them just fine, this shoe was my number 1, and I am still wearing them today! This year, I'm running in my new number 1 Hoka One One shoe, The Speed Instinct. With it's lower profile 3mm drop, the shoe has the perfect balance of cushioning and responsiveness. You can feel the propulsion in the forefoot; feeling fast and close to the ground, and the sponge in the heel offers the cushioning needed.
The shoe was the right choice for the race as we woke up to cloudy conditions with rain over night and no wind. The lugs on the shoes are spaced evenly around the outer sole and not too aggressive (which can cause stiffness). They are super flexible and were perfect for the conditions. I still had the speed goats packed- just in case it ended up raining and I needed that extra-tough grip.
My plan this year was to see how hard i could push myself compared to last year, as well as familiarise myself with part of the Taupo Ultra Marathon course.
So the race starts off fast as usual, I quickly aim for my target to chase, this year it was Jean Beaumont's brother Michael. We then head out along Whangamata Bay, then onto Kawakawa bay. This is where the excitement starts! The course is far from boring, it's a delight!
We start gradually climbing up and up, along Kawakawa Bay. The hills are easy but flow relentlessly over the course, I don't recall a flat section! The trail is intimate and enclosed then all of a sudden you pop out of the trees and get epic views of the lake and surrounding bush.
Once you reach the top you find it hard to hold back with the downhill section- you just get so much joy at running fast downhill between the trees and soft pumice ground!
Coming into the Whangamata Road aid-station, there are bananas on offer and I catch up with Michael. I then start heading out to the turn around and half way mark. This year it seemed to take ages to get there and i feel like I'm working really hard. Thoughts enter my head about the start of the week and I wonder if those runs were too long with too many hills...
As I see the lead men approaching me from the turn around, the first guy seemed to have a decent gap on second and third. There's something about a turn around point that gives me relief, I like knowing I'm on my way home and that I need to start digging deep. I also get to see how far second and third women are behind me. They are together, I wasn't sure exactly how far behind they were, but when your in the front you're running scared and hoping not to blow up.
I started feeling really good (after stuffing my face with a hand full of jet planes at the turn around aid station). Before I knew it I had Michael insight again and pulled up next to him at the last aid station. The grind back up the hill was starting to take it's toll and I was just so ready to just run downhill. However, the course just kept going up and down. My energy was dying and so were the legs.
By the time the downhill came my legs were nearly over it. Again, thoughts came into my head, wondering if i should of held back earlier in the race...
Descending into the bay you join up with the 5km and 10km course (and it's participants), it gets really busy and a little annoying dodging people, half of them wearing ear phones and not knowing what's coming from behind them!
Finally I pop out of the bush onto a flat grass section. Knowing the finish is just around the corner brings so much relief because I am so done and cooked!
Great event! Great day, but felt much harder than last year! Thanks Hoka One One NZ and Total Sport"
- Jo Johansen, HOKA ONE ONE NZ athlete
The HOKA ONE ONE NZ team hopes to see you all there next year!