The Manawahe 6 hour adventure race is one of 3 annual 6 hour adventure races held in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. Due to work commitments the first race in Kawerau was off the list for our team. For Manawahe we had to call in two extra racers (Ed had an exam and Mirjam was working). To fill in for Ed we had Matt Morreau, one of my flatmates in Rotorua. With a background in tri and athletics, the running and biking would be no problem. A good strong set of legs to keep up moving quickly. For Mirjam we grabbed my sister Kat ( check out her stories over at: https://katareynolds.wordpress.com/ ). Kat has been building her trail running reputation over the last couple of years, with some wins at Routeburn and the Goat Kaimai to name a few. She was also NZ Secondary Schools MTB Champ in years gone by, so knows how to ride too. A fitting pair to fill in for Ed and Mirjam.
The race began with a solid road bash. We went to the front and ran a steady pace. By the time we entered the bush section we were in front and feeling good. The epic views across the Edgecumbe plains to Whakatane, in the crisp morning light, just added to the fun. My first navigation wobble of the day came heading down the spur from here. I got sucked off onto a side spur – and in doing so ended up with a few cliff slides and a short creek bash to the edge of the forest. We lost only 4-5 minutes, but enough to put us behind the first few teams.
The next portion in the bush went up a sweet little gorge behind Matata. This was steep sided, cliffy and awesome fun to run up. It was the source of the flash floods that seriously damaged Matata back in 2005. With such steep sides I can see why! By the time we emerged and got back on the beach we were only a matter of minutes behind the other leading teams.
Next up we climbed away from the coast and into the Manawahe hills. We set a good pace on the climb and passed a few teams. After 6km or so we turned off the road and onto farm tracks. Here the controls were close together. A combination of topo map, short legs and steep hills meant we had to get the communication going to maintain flow through the controls. We went fast, taking a few dodgy lines straight down hills and managed to lose the teams right behind us. We were unsure where we were on the road placings wise, but kept pushing hard. We saw another team about 3/4 of the way through the ride and began a solid battle.
This team included a bunch of Rotorua Hospital anaesthetists. Not only was the race win on the line, but hospital bragging rights. They are also planning on heading to Godzone 2016. We traded the lead through the end of the farm section and onto the road. Heading down the tarseal it was quick. All 8 riders pushing hard, trying to get some separation. Just as it looked like we might have got a gap, I made my second nav error, overshooting the last control. I hurried jumped off the road through some blackberry to get to the control, but the damage was done. The sniff of a win was taken and the other team were off. In the last km we couldn’t close the gap. Second place, but an epic battle along the way.
A sweet race to start the weekend, made better with a good tight battle. Out next race is looking like the Kiwi Adventure Race in Hawkes Bay in July.