A couple of reflections on the senior men’s race:
Great to have a good head-to-head tussle out front over the full 80km relay distance. Only a few seconds in it at the end of lap 7, great for the crowd. Also, first time two teams have gone under 4:10 in the same year since 1997, showing some good depth emerging in NZ. We just need to work on getting more teams under the 4:20 benchmark (one year in the mid-80’s 8 teams from Canterbury alone went under 4:20).
Balchins run on lap 1 really was exceptional. A lot get said about lap distances subtly changing and wind playing a factor with some of the records. The fact is, Balchin to my knowledge ran the fastest lap 1 in the post “corner cutting” era. This may sound pedantic, but every time an athlete takes a long bend rather than cutting across the diameter (as they were allowed to do in the road closure days pre mid-90’s) it adds distance and on down hills significantly slows the runner. Laps 1, 6 and 7 are particularly affected. Don Grieg, who probably has more room to comment than anyone, reckons it adds around 120-150m on each of those 3 laps. (I tend to agree, cutting across 20m diameter of a circle saves just over 10m, those laps each have 10+ such bends that would be relevant).
The time lag is even more significant on the downhills as so much momentum is lost. So Balchin getting within a minute of Gregor Camerons astonishing lap 1 time had to be the run of the day for me.
Without applying true science it had to be worth a 28:45 with corner cuts. (See comments below re Olsens hill top time in 2009, he would have gone VERY close to the record if he was allowed to cut through the 14 right hand bends on that climb).
Very good run by Ashkettle as well, significantly faster than Blincoe ran on the same leg in 2005, though not as quick as the Tipton Tiger ran in 2009. I think Van Barnfield ran the quickest lap 7 since 1997 too, and probably one of the fastest post-corner cut era legs down the hill as well.
Great to have Aish involved, and hopefully Ashkettle can encourage some mates to come and get amongst it in future years.
Enjoyed the mid-field tussle for the minor medal. Wesley too much depth on the day, but UC and Pak not too far behind. A pity WHAC didn’t field a full strength team, they should have been in with a sniff too. A bunch of young guys (and Dobbo) did well for bays and might be a team to watch in the future.
Finally, well deserved win for NBO who are surely the most decorated team in NRR history (certainly the are in T2A history). LT has worked hard on getting that team right for many years, and has gone close a few times. Pulled it off with largely local guys who can be seen jogging around Hagley park any day of the week, and Hmac and OIB who have been loyal members to the club for years (may not be well known in the rest of NZ but those guys regularly pitch up for club races in chch for NB).
Wont it be confusing for spectators when there is a three way tussle in Yellow vests in 2014?