UltrAspire NZ team member Matt Rayment shares his experience at the inaugural WUU2K held in Wellington-
I like my running events like my music: DIY, Grassroots and gnarly. With these three things in mind I was instantly drawn to the inaugural WUU2k, which was held three weeks ago in Wellington. With a busy life, planning to attend a race outside of Auckland doesn’t always pan out, but in this case the stars aligned. I found myself excitedly waiting at Auckland airport on Saturday july 16th, headphones full of the Turned Out A Punk podcast and one eye constantly updating the irunfar twitter feed to see how Grant was doing at Hardrock (the “other” race that weekend).
The handful of other runners that ventured south of the Bombays with me must have brought the Auckland weather with us to the capital as when I arrived it was a bluebird day, calm and clear, with more of the same forecast for race day. From the airport it was straight to registration, and onto the trails around Belmont for a quick shakeout with my hosts, Chan and Orsi of runwellington. After an inordinate amount of risotto I retired to bed, excited about the challenge that lay ahead.
Four Thirty rolled around as it does and before we know it I’m at the start of the race, which is at the base of Mt. Kaukau. Around me are the headlights of 150 other runners taking on the 42.2 or 60km distance. I opted for the marathon as it’s a distance I don’t have experience with and one that I’m keen to explore more fully.
Just like that, we’re off. The internal battle between going off the line hard and having a sensible start was won by prudence and I found myself in around 20th spot when I got to the summit. Over the next 5 hours I found myself treated to the best Wellington has to offer. Stunning scenery, interesting variation in trail (from lush singletrack, steep four wheel roads and rocky, exposed ridge running), big climbs and a tight, cohesive community of volunteers who kept everything ticking smoothly. These wonderful people supersized the themed aid stations and provided buckets of encouragement and good cheer to keep everyone going. If the heart of the race is the organizer, the soul is definitely the race crew itself. Well done team!!
I didn’t know really what to expect terrain-wise but I (correctly) presumed that there would not be that much super technical terrain. In terms of shoes I chose the Altra Superior 2.0, and couldn’t have been happier with the combination of lightness, low profile, grip, and protection. I found the rock plate came in very handy running down the tip track at 34km and I got through without even the hint of a metatarsal stone bruise.
Matt clearly enjoying himself! Photo: Run Wellington
Gareth was clear that this was a challenging run (it was) and there was the high probability of inclement conditions (thankfully the Aux weather spell held up) so we had a bunch of compulsory gear to cart with us. I had mine stowed into an UltrAspire Velocity, which was perfect for a race like this. I love this pack! It held everything I needed, wasn’t bulky, didn’t bounce or chafe.. it was mint (it’s actually a fetching lime, but there you go). Having ample storage on the chest pockets meant I was able to complete the event without removing the pack, So I only needed to stop at the later aid stations to have my bottle filled and grab some mandarins.
Employing a conservative approach for the first three quarters of the race paid off, and I found myself with enough energy to get up and over the final climbs of Mt Albert and Mt Victoria with some steam to come in at 5:20 and 18th place in the marathon. My watch read 43.4km and 1357m ascent. I spent the rest of the day at the top of Mt Vic. Slapping fives and cheering before I was off to prizegiving then the airport for a late flight home, promptly falling asleep as soon as I hit my seat. I’m hopeful that this event isn’t a once off, and judging by the great feedback and participation I’m pretty sure it won’t be. If so, Wuu2k is a dead set certainty on my 2017 race schedule.