The photos posted here are compressed by Google software. I am happy to provide high-resolution images - just let me know what you require at There is no cost.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

2017 Vosseler Shield Mt Victoria Wellington - Shoe Advice

How to avoid this, Actually don't
This weekend the Vosseler Shield will be run for the 94th year. I hope Wellington Harriers have started planning for the 100th anniversary.

The Vosseler has been described as the toughest cross race in New Zealand and if you take out the specialist mountain running events this is probably true. 

The current course was mostly designed by the late Gary Weston-Webb who clearly had an evil side to him. But those who ran with Gary knew he liked challenges.

The debate about what to wear on your feet at the Vosseler has forever been ongoing. I personally preferred short spikes but have run it in waffles. Although on a wet course I am not so sure about flats.

It could make a difference that in my day we started on the road outside of the WHAC clubrooms and went down the long track that is off Alexandra Road, and which runners now come up to the glare of the jeering and unruly mob. 

The long grass slope that the runners go up at the start on the Ruahine St side of Mt Vic was a downhill section. Slip sliding away.

But back to footwear. Api Williams has included the options in the latest Scottish Newsletter, but also below I have included a piece stolen from the Olympic Harriers website which includes comments by Barry Prosser.

"The jury is still out as to whether you wear spikes or not. The options are:
1                     Spikes – not suited for long spikes due to road sections
2                     Filed down (stumpy) spikes – the preference of some in wet and muddy conditions
3                     Trail shoes – something light with a waffle sole to maximise grip
4                     Running shoes – next best option if you don’t have any of the above 

5                     Racing flats – good luck"
6                     Don Dalgliesh Special 1 - Modified Soccer Boots
7                     Don Dalgliesh Special 2 - Training Flats with strips of bike tyres glued to the sole

Secrets of a mountain runner
The 94th Vosseler Shield race is a WHAC hosted interclub event to be held on Saturday 20 May.  For those who have not encountered it – you’re in for a treat. Described as a combination of bush track and sealed roads, the race has show-cased some of the greats from New Zealand mountain running.

Barry Prosser, the “Father of Mountain Running” in New Zealand, generously agreed to share his tips on running the Vosseler.  (Check out his profile.

“So it starts with a hill” said Barry “and you really want to be at the front of the pack on this first hill because after that the track gets narrow.” 

He recommends working your arms hard to keep the legs moving, and reminding yourself that everyone is feeling as bad as you are.

“The first people to the top have the advantage. Aim to get in front (or as close to it as you can) before the top”, concentrating on putting in as much effort as you can on each hill.

Barry recommends solid ups and flowing downs. “You don’t want to be staring at your feet on the downs but looking a little ahead and thinking about foot placement.  Ideally walk the course before the race and plan out your route around obstacles or steep declines.”

The Vosseler isn’t suited for spikes, Barry instead recommends trail shoes – something light with a waffle sole to maximise grip. Wherever you are in the race, watch the people around you, see who you can chip away at and overtake on the next hill. 

Barry warms up on the flatter sections of the hill near the start and closer to the race does 3 – 4x100 metre stride-outs. Then relax!

“Fridays before a race I do a light run to loosen up. Even on the Wednesday and Thursday I ease up, the last real training session being on the Tuesday before the race.”

His recommended race food: honey on lightly toasted bread – not too much butter – eaten 3 – 4 hours before the event.