Rail Trail Training Diaries – Epilogue

So how did the Pulse Fitness Teams go in the 2017 Otago Central Rail Trail Duathlon? Over the past 6 weeks we’ve been following their training – so did they cream it? Lose it? Win it? Finish it…….? (Spoiler Alert – they were awesome!)

Ready to go! The Pulse Fitness Teams at the start of the 2017 Rail Trail Duathlon – Pic image central.
Fi King and Pippa Wellstead “No Pulse” teammates – Pic image central

Pippa Wellstead
“I DID IT! I cannot describe how chuffed I am with myself having reached Middlemarch in one piece with a smile…well almost a smile come grimace on my face.

Four runs in two days and all in a respectable time. I am very very happy with myself.
I found the first run from Clyde to Alexandra a bit panicky trying to keep up and thinking oh dear, what have I got myself into here.

Pippa running along the Poolburn Viaduct – Pic image central
Pippa running along the Poolburn Viaduct – Pic image central

The second run from Lauder to Auripo was the worst of the four. It was uphill, the longest distance of 11km and the finish line was visible for 4km and I just never seemed to get any closer. Maria Williams was an absolute godsend coming out to join me for the last 800m and definitely got me over the finish line for that leg.

Saturday night we stayed in Naseby and I almost fell asleep in my dinner. I was absolutely shattered and sore and slept like a baby until 4am when I woke with a nasty attack of the nerves. I was so sore and wondered how on earth I was going to run another 8km and then another 9km after that. Mark, Camille and Fi were absolute rocks and gave me the encouragement I needed to give it a go.

The best run was Ranfurly to Waipiata on Sunday morning with the weather being exactly as requested, cool and no wind. I really enjoyed run 3. Fi was a superstar on the bike and before I knew it she was at the last transition and it was the last leg. The run into Middlemarch was long, straight and it was just a case of head down and get on with it.

Pippa crosses the finish line at Middlemarch – Pic image central

I had the best welcoming committee with the Williams girls, Hannah, Phoebe and Emily all out to see me in. I haven’t stopped grinning since crossing the finishing line and can honestly say I enjoyed it.

Thank you so much to Fiona for being a fab team mate, to Camille for giving me the push I needed to believe I could do it and to Mark for the right words at the right time.
The toes are a mess but worth it!”

Fiona King
“Well it’s done! I am feeling really stoked after such a great weekend. The weather turned it on and it was near perfect conditions, warm but not hot and virtually no wind.

The first ride on Saturday from Alex to Lauder felt great as I was so used to doing it battling into a head wind that with no wind I actually felt like I was going fast for a change!

The second ride was a bit more of a struggle as the legs were getting tired and there was a fair stretch of uphill at the beginning. But it was mostly flat or downhill into Ranfurly so I managed to push on but was very pleased to see the finish line.

Fiona King crosses the finish line at Ranfury on day one of the 2017 Rail Trail Duathlon – Pic image central

On Sunday morning I was a bit worried how the legs were going to handle going again as they definitely felt fatigued! They took a bit to warm up but once I got going again I felt good. There were no uphill grinds for the whole 42km on day 2 and I found I really enjoyed it and my time was much better than I expected.

Pippa was amazing! I know she was nervous before her runs and found the 11km on Saturday hard going but she pushed on in every race and finished strongly. She had some nasty blisters and must have been in pain but didn’t complain. She did brilliantly. We were on the same page with our attitude to the race and were just both happy to be competing and enjoying ourselves.

Mark and Camille had a close battle with another team in the mixed team section which made it fun to follow their progress and times. They gave it 100% and were just pipped at the post. I was impressed by their enthusiasm and desire to do their absolute best.

We had a fun Saturday afternoon chilling in Naseby and then dinner at the pub with some other competitors. The couple of beers after the race on Sunday were well deserved I thought!

A well-deserved drink! The teams celebrate crossing the finish line at Middlemarch – Pic image central

I think I could have done more training but definitely felt I did enough to be up for the challenge and enjoy it at the same time.

Overall a great weekend. Enjoyed the race, great company, more than a few laughs along the way and the legs even felt ok on Monday!!

A big thanks to Camille for inviting me into the Pulse team (or did I invite myself?) and thanks to all involved for putting the event on. Their hard work is appreciated.”


Mark Wellstead and Camille O’Connor at the finish in Middlemarch – Pic image central

Camille O’Connor
“Done and dusted!!I’m very relieved. As I sit here on Monday morning writing this I can’t help but feel an overwhelming feeling of relief but also mixed with a little sadness that’s it’s all over. The weekend was nothing short of amazing! The event was so well run, the competition was tough, goals were achieved, the weather was perfect and the environment was fun and supportive within our Pulse Teams and with other competitors.

Camille O’Connor waiting for Mark to come in at the Alexandra transition – Pic image central

Day one seems a bit of a blur as I was quite nervous prior to the race then when I looked up while waiting in the first transition in Alexandra to see my partner Mark striding down the rail trail with two other runners in the leading bunch the heart rate went up a number of beats instantly and more nerves kicked in! Once on the bike I settled quickly into a good rhythm and just after Chatto Creek was caught by a couple of strong guys. I managed to tuck in behind them for a good part of Tiger Hill but did struggle to hold on all the way and at the end of the day when I looked at my Garmin and Heart rate could understand why I slipped back a little – my Heart rate had hit 201 beats per minute!

My rest between arriving at Lauder and leaving Auripo was short – Mark busted this 11km run out in 44 mins (so by the time I loaded my bike at Lauder, unloaded at Auripo Rd, had a quick toilet stop – I was back on the bike for the second leg!).

We had a nice relaxing evening at Naesby with both our Pulse Teams and also some other friends who were doing the event too – a meal at the Pub and an early night.

Camille O’Connor and Mark at the Alexandra transition – Pic image central
Camille starts the 42km MTB section from Waipiata to Moynihans Lane (Past Hyde)- (pic image central)

Day Two was nothing short of tough – in that we looked at results and saw we were 2 mins behind 1st place in our section and had a 1 min lead over the team in 3rd. The race was well and truly on!

Conditions were again ideal and it was so nice not have the wind we had been training in leading up to the event. At the end of racing on day two – I think both Mark and I knew we couldn’t have given any more (which is a good way to finish knowing you had done all you could) and were beaten by a much stronger team – we were pretty stoked to hold onto 2nd at the end of the day!

Two mixed teams receive their medals – From left to right: Camille O’Connor, Mark Wellstead (2nd), Tiaan McKinnel and Tracey Pringle (1st) and the ‘A bit of T & A’ team (3rd) – Pic image central

It was such an enjoyable event in that the atmosphere created by the different categories (bike race v duathlon, 1 day v 2 day, school teams, corporate teams, individuals competing their first every event, seasoned multisport athletes competing alongside them) made for a well-rounded event and I am sure everyone who participated will be back again next year. I know Mark is already looking to sign us up again for this duathlon and we are looking for some more events to enter our team “On the Pulse”.”

Mark Wellstead
“I have enjoyed everything about the training, the weight loss and then to finally race again after so many years has made me feel a million dollars.

Mark Wellstead is the first runner into the Alexandra tranistion – Pic image central

All four runs were equally as hard as each other for different reasons and we were close to the winning team for the whole race which was an added bonus. It gave me that feeling of competition that I have been missing and I have not felt this good for years.

Mark Wellstead & Camille cross the finishline at Middlemarch – Pic image central

Camille O’Connor my partner during the race gave it everything she had on both days and that made me push myself to the limit. Camille and my wife Pippa signed me up for the race and then told me I had to get training which I am very grateful for as another year would have gone past without me running.

The whole race was very well organised and the team spirit amongst everyone was fantastic, I will definitely be doing it again next year and hopefully with a whole years’ worth of training under my belt!”


Click here to check out more images of the Rail Trail Duathlon at the event Facebook page.

More information about the Rail Trail Duathlon here: http://www.otagocentralrailtrail.co.nz/rail-trail-duathlon-and-mountain-bike-race/

More about Pulse Fitness here: http://www.pulse-fitness.co.nz/

More about image central here: http://image-central.co.nz/our-purpose/

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