Tuesday, 31 March 2009

My love/hate relationship with Trailwalker continues

Limited internet access since TW (still in Melbourne for Sunday's Frankston to Portsea), so a brief report on the Team #65 Upstream Foundation Org Experience.
When i was called in as a replacement a few weeks back i knew the team was looking at around 10 Hours according to the Teamspace on the web but really had no idea whether this was realistic or not, certainly we had two well known Ultra Runners Mal Gamble and Sydney's Michael Lovric, but team organiser Rob Hall although a multiple trailwalker veteran was an unknown to me.
With a seemingly endless queue for check in just wondered whether we would even start close to time (i think race start was about 5 minutes late?).
A good sign for me was the fact i'd had a very nervy sleep the night before (definitely better than having nightmares about Richmonds performance), waking frequently, better for me to go into a race thinking about it (albeit negatively) than going in unfocussed.
Early on i was running with the eventual winners as we talked football, but realising i was getting a little too far in front dropped back and rejoined my team. Lot's of kangaroos about as we were in the lead 3 groups and they hadn't been disturbed as yet by the herds of teams to follow.
All running comfortably at the first checkpoint, although the feast at each checkpoint that i'd recalled in my other 4TW's didn't look like it was going to eventuate as it appeared we were getting in too early, so just a couple of cups of sports drink for me.
Next section again pretty cruisy, personally i was content as i was sure that if i was to have stomach problems (my biggest worry after Six Foot Track) they'd occur early on in the race. By now we'd settled at a certain pace and could see no one either ahead or behind us, 3rd place was ours alone. Mal was pretty much setting our pace and whilst i would have liked a little more speed, it was one i could live with.
Next Checkpoint i had a Gu Gel and some more sportsdrink and also got our crew to give me my handheld (or as Rob speaking to the crew on walkie talkie said "Kelvin want's his hand held" - maybe that just sounded funny at the time :roll: ).
More easy running and i'll admit i was a little worried about "The Leyland Brothers" (ie Mike and Mal), as me and Rob continued very steadily and easily and they seemed to be getting further behind.
Got a little confused at Checkpoint 4, a little misunderstanding meant that i went and had a Gu and filled my bottle whilst the team continued but ultimately this cost at worst 2 minutes so no big drama.
Next was a part i knew very well, through to Olinda, certainly Hacketts Rd hadn't grown any less steep but all the familiarity made it feel like a casual stroll. My ultra lightweight Nike Free 4.0's complete with holes did let me down here with a stick coming in the hole meaning i had to pull up and take the shoe off, otherwise all good but a little worried about how some members were going.
We made it to Olinda Oval and i admit i was disappointed i didn't see one of the lead teams come back out towards us, found out we were a good half hour behind. Another Gu and filled my bottle up again with the Powerade / Endura Mix (Rob's secret weapon).
Good running down some hills but Rob and i did keep on having to look back, the others were far from struggling but just weren't going quite the pace i'd have picked.
Silvan Dam and we found we were 37 minutes behind the leaders, i had a meat pie thinking that i may as well have some real food to get me through the last half (asked for a coffee flavoured Gu but was invited to have a coffee and a cup of GU2O not quite the same !!).
Back out and i realised that with 5.5 Hours gone, even with the dead flat Rail Trail 10 Hours wasn't going to be an option. All team members appeared to be in reasonable shape but i was beginning to feel a sore back as i was running just under optimal slow speed.
Finally we hit the rail trail (i kept my mind off the speed by taking mental note of the electrical equipment etc dumped on the side of the road), now we could put the foot down.
Not quite as planned, Rob and i were still going cruisily and Mal appeared to be back but Michael was having nausea problems, ultimately it meant i walked alot as i simply couldn't run as slow as necessary. We got the news that Bryan had dropped out from Team Muttley, so we were now officially in Second Place, sort of nice but i knew it was a case of the Midday Milers needing to blow up badly for us to improve, would much have preferred fate to be in our hands.
Another Gu washed down by Coke at the next checkpoint and finally removed my gloves and Moeben sleeves, and then an easy, albeit slow, run and walk along the trail to Checkpoint 7. Had a chat with Bryan there about his problems (remembering well his problems there in 2007 where our team had spent an interminable amount of time), and took it fairly easy leaving as Michael was in worse shape than before with nausea.
Lot's of walking sums it up, a vomit did help Michael and off the paddock section of the trail we started running again.
Our crew had bought some chips and a half a dozen chips and half a stubbie of VB was a treat awaiting me when we hit the pub on the Highway, if i was feeling a little frustrated before now i was a little more mellow. Cruised nicely into the last checkpoint at least i wasn't going to have to worry about finding my headlamp.
After some coke at the checkpoint and some more chips i was positively jumping out of my skin to get the thing finished again, we knew by now a win wasn't an option but still we would get under 12 hours.
A fair bit of walking and then at last to the Little Joe track, at last we could all easily move at the same pace to the top. Once atop me and Rob headed off and ran easily knowing we'd have a walk stage a little on, i was full of beans but really no point as we needed to finish together.
With the race finish in view, i had our crew give my our race T Shirt so we'd all come in looking the same and then regrouping just outside the oval we ran in together in 11:44.
As fast as we could go under the circumstances and i admit was still very fresh but doubt i could have gone fast enough to have beaten the 10:33 of the Midday Milers. Overall a good team performance, but again frustratingly close now the third time from 5 Trailwalkers that i've finished on the podium but not won.

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