The Half-Nugget – Robert Huggins

I kept seeing adverts for the Nugget Multi-Sport race on Facebook, and thought it must only be for nutters (you know like Chris…). But then more and more of the group seemed to be getting mountain bikes and enjoying doing that kind of riding – indeed Matt “Not competitive at all” Backler mentioned to me that he’d prefer to do offroad races over road races every time.
Ok I thought, how hard can it be? And entered – decided to do the Half Nugget as paddling really wouldn’t be for me.
Famous last words….
I bought myself a Scott Scale 960 Mountain Bike from Tim “Avanti Plus” Mills which he said would be perfect for the racing I’d likely be doing – and it was about $1,400 cheaper than the one I was looking at – who said bike shops tried to sell you expensive stuff..??
Tim was kind enough to run a skills session down at Blake Park and I was ready to hit the trails – or so I thought. One session at Oropi MTB Park and one session at the Redwoods with Chris later I was ready to go.
Yes you read that right – I’d done all of 2 rides off road before I did the race….
The Backlers kindly offered to let me sleep at their bach at Waihi the night before, so I didn’t have to get up at really stupid o’clock. So on the Friday I headed up to Waihi to register and drop my bike off at T1. A nice chicken dinner – thanks Sarah – and some sleep later I found myself waiting to start at Waihi Beach.
If you don’t know the race it’s a 10km off road run along Waihi Beach, around the coast and up – yes up, up and up to T1. Followed by a 23km mountain bike and finally a 2.2km run around the mine at Waihi.
The horn sounded and off I went. Felt really good, turned out I was going a wee bit fast – and got found out on the way up through the trails. One saving grace was the views – absolutely stunning part of the country to do a nice little run. I felt pretty good, but just not as fast as I’d like, and eventually Clyve Cousins went past me and disappeared up the road – turns out I’m not as fast on uphills as I’d like to be….but are any of us??
Matt Backler was on a training run – doesn’t he make you sick – and kindly took a bunch of photos before turning round and running past us all making it look like a downhill rather than a steep uphill run!! 1hr and 14mins later and according to my Garmin 8.95kms I arrived at T1.
Time to find my bike…..T1 looked a bit different in the light than it did when I racked the bike the night before – but with a bit of help from my friends I found it. Matt had dropped of my water bottles that morning so I had something to drink before I unracked and headed off for the 23km ride…..
What a ride….the day before the event and pretty much all night it had been raining, so the first part of the ride through farmers cattle roads was very wet….and muddy….although a lot of it wasn’t actually mud….. “keep your mouth closed” said Sarah – thanks mate, very good advice….although unfortunately I had to keep my eyes open and got a nice big bit of “mud” in my right eye. Had to stop and try to wash out but then carried on.
Finally got through the roads and onto the farmers paddocks and the downhill section that took us to the mountain bike trails – weeeeeeee I went…then uh-oh!!! It was very wet and the gate was towards the left hand side of the paddock, and I seemed to be drifting further right. Hmmm how do I stop or slow down without falling off….I managed to somehow work it so I got through the gate and off to the uphill.
Memo1 to self – unclip your shoes before you go on the uphills as eventually the bike will stop and you’ll fall off…..bugger.
The ride was great – tiring and hard, and I should probably have had more than 2 trail rides beforehand. Going through the mtb park in Waihi was a lot of fun even though I did scare a female rider when I fell off for the second time and she was all worried about me – “it’s ok” I said – “I only landed on my head” turns out not everyone gets “funny Rob”. I had to calm her down and tell her I was only joking.
Memo2 to self – enough of the jokes when racing.
I only came off one more time and overall had a great time on the ride, but boy oh boy was it hard. It sure felt like there was more climbing than the 439m that Garmin tells me it was but there you go. Finally rolled into T2 where Matt was waiting with my running shoes for me to slip into and he even took my bike and kit to put somewhere. I was in no fit state to realise that he was putting it all together and out of the way of other competitors.
The run round the mine was great. And I actually overtook some of the people who went past me on the bike ride. Boy is that mine big!! Seriously, it’s massive. Not that I had much of a chance to think about that when I was running – “Get to the end Rob” “Not far to go Rob” “Why on earth are you doing this Rob” was the running commentary going on in my head as I completed the last 2.33km – according to my friend Garmin.
Finally I got to the end – 3hrs 24 minutes after I’d started way down there at Waihi Beach.
I was shattered. Spent. Gone.
I sat there in pretty much disbelief that I’d actually done it – that race was miles harder than I expected, and way more fun than I expected as well. I’d encourage everyone to give it a go as it sure challenges you. I really don’t know how the Full Nugget guys and girls do it – nutters, all of them.
A huge thanks goes out to the Backlers, Matt and Sarah – for giving me somewhere to lay my head which was so kind, and also feeding me that night as well :) but mostly for being my support crew. I was totally unprepared for the support I’d actually need as stupid old me thought it was only an easy duathlon!! Matt dropped off the kit I needed at my bike, then collected my discarded kit at T1 and brought down to T2 then Matt made sure I only had to worry about getting shoes off and on at T2. They were awesome as always – thanks guys.
My last thought is who’d have thought 18months ago when “Fat Rob” turned up at Windermere for some hep with my swimming from Chris that I’d be doing things like this – thanks heaps to all the PC crew as well and of course Coach Chris.