2019 Round Rarotonga Road Race

Today I ran the 2019 Round Rarotonga Road Race (RRRR). My unofficial time was 2:11:03. While this is quite a bit slower than the sub 2:00 I was targeting, the race gave me an excuse to (finally) visit the Cook Islands!

While the race and weather could have went better, I did have a good holiday in “The Islands”.

The RRRR involves running one 31km loop around the entire island.

The race began at 5:30 am in darkness. While there was some light from street lamps and the occasional vehicle, many people (myself included) brought head lamps. This was a good idea as the roads were not closed off from traffic and had uneven surfaces – there was even potholes!

The race also began with rain that just became heavier! While the rain helped to suppress the temperature, it was still above 20C with high humidity. It also made it harder to hold pace as my shoes and clothes became soaked with water.

I head out at an honest 3:45 min/km pace and felt it was within my limits to hold this in spite of the warm and humid conditions. However, 18 km later this the pace slowed to 4:00 min/km and by 24 km the “wheels fell off”.

While I like to think I can run to feel, this is easier said that done when racing a distance and environment you’re not used to. One good technique is to run by heart rate monitor (HRM), provided you know your HR zones.

Unfortunately, racing to HR zones wasn’t an option today despite wearing a chest-based HRM. For some reason, my HRM wasn’t detected prior to starting the run. Hmm…

After a very slow last seven kilometers (29 and 30 were at 6 min/km pace – eek!), I’ve crossed the finish line fourth overall. While I’m disappointed with the run, I manage to come first in the “Open Men” division.

The last half marathon I ran felt long. And today’s 31 km felt way too long long, particularly as I’m “low mileage” and mostly training towards shorter 5K races.

All in all a hard and humbling run in paradise. It’s been a while since I’ve “hit the wall” as bad as I did today. While today’s weather wasn’t kind to today’s runners, it was a run event that was well run.

Notes to myself:

  • A little heavy at 78 kg.
  • Ran in Nike Streak 6 Flyknits. While these shoes are perfect for longer races, having done 700 km they are a bit worn.
  • Had water at most aid stations and one gel and a muslie bar for fuel. The muslie bar was a poor choice – it was impossible to swallow without water and just made it hard to breath as it stuck to the side of my mouth!
  • Weather on race day was 20 – 22C with 92% RH.
  • My Garmin 935 watch did not connect to my HRM! Unsure why this was and had the optical HR disabled – wasn’t able to regulate pace by HR.
  • Had a seemly low cadence (170 spm) at 3:45 min/km pace. Probably a side effect being used to running 180 spm but at a faster speed (3:15 min/km).