GurneyGoo Girls at The Great Naseby Water Race

The last weekend of August is a well anticipated date in the New Zealand Ultra and Trail Running calendar. Not only does it herald the imminent onset of spring, but almost more importantly, it is the weekend of the well loved Great Naseby Water Race.

I have enjoyed challenging myself with different distances at Naseby for the last few years, so when the opportunity to team up with the fast and talented Michelle Watt for 2015, I was pretty excited by our podium prospects. We were super excited and really grateful when GurneyGoo offered to sponsor us for the event.

Race day dawned grey and damp, we knew the trail was really muddy, making for challenging conditions to pull off the really fast splits we were hoping for. The first order of business was to get our GOO on. We wanted to protect our feet from the blisters that are so exacerbated by wet, muddy, gritty conditions. We had applied an initial layer of GurneyGoo when we woke up, but as the start approached we focused on ensuring that our toe nails were clipped, feet well slathered in GurneyGoo and socks and shoes free of dirt and grit before securely lacing up. We also put lashings of GurneyGoo under the ankle strap of the timing transponder – a move which saved us from some of the bleeding ankle experiences that some of the other runners suffered from.

Michelle was first on course and blazed off with the starting gun. I planned to meet her every time she passed through the transition area so I could run with her to provide food/water, motivation or the proverbial concrete pills should they be required. Michelle ticked up the kms at a cracking pace, and I got a thorough warm up trying to keep up with her while she refuelled, and kept me updated with her progress using increasingly colourful language.

I was itching to get out and run, so when the time came for the final transition and transponder transferral, I was chomping at the bit to get out into the mud. Michelle came in still looking uber strong, and I blasted off, conscious of trying to set a sustainable pace, my best intentions over ridden by the shear joy of getting to run in my favourite race!

The Great Naseby Water Race course follows a combination of forestry roads, single track and of course the water race. There is some climbing, some descending, a couple of steep pinches, and this year, mud glorious mud! I spent my first lap trying to run through every puddle, and marvelling at how well my shoes seemed to grip and remain stable through what I counted to be at least 7 distinctly different textures of mud.

The GurneyGoo crew, (onsite providing blister and chaffing relief for the entire race) met me at each pass of the transition area plying me with water, gels, electrolytes and moral support. The first 20km flew by, and I was feeling good! By the start of my third lap, I was still feeling strong, but some interesting muscle sets were starting to cramp, I desperately didn’t want to slow down and let down the team, so I gritted my teeth and upped my gel/H2O intake.

Coming into transition for the final cross before the finish I got just the advice I needed to hear “don’t be disappointed that you didn’t put in enough effort – leave it all on the trail”. I have finished numerous races thinking, “I wonder what would have happened if I had just pushed a bit harder...”, so this was an apt reminder to wreck myself (in the best way) over the last 5km.

I had worked pretty hard throughout race, so my legs were starting to feel a bit sorry for themselves, but every time I felt myself flagging, I reminded myself that I wanted max effort; nothing left at the finish. The only part of me that felt amazing were my mercilessly blister-free feet. The sun was well and truly shining by the time I settled into the final climb for the day. My tired mind, elated at the prospect of finishing, became fixated on the magnificent patterns that our millions of trail-shoe-clad footsteps had left in the rich clay mud – almost like some sort of intricate mud based stained glass.

Into the last straight, I tried to ramp up the effort levels, forcing a sort of mad sprint, desperately trying to maintain control of tired limbs. My face, a red and sweaty mask of concentration, I tried to focus on relaxing enough to stave off the encroaching tendrils of cramp that were gripping every muscle from ankle to hip. Michelle told me later that she could tell by the look of me that “something wasn’t right” – I think this was a very diplomatic way of telling me I looked like I was suffering some sort of convulsion!

It was such a privilege to run the last few meters across the finish line with Michelle. Thank you Michelle for teaming up with me, I think the inaugural race of the GurneyGoo Girls is the beginning of a beautiful and successful partnership. It was pretty awesome to smash out such a convincing win with you!

Enormous thanks to the GurneyGoo team for the support, advice and sponsorship, it is a real pleasure to be associated with a fantastic and effective product. Staying blister and chaffing free was instrumental to winning on Saturday. Thank you.

-- Kat Bulk,

Read more on the GurneyGoo Girls at their blog