Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Bananacoast Coast Ultra (Coffs to Grafton) 10th May 2009

Rather than write a race report i feel better putting in this race report from Race Director Steel Beveridge:

It has been said that it only takes one starter to make an event and two to make a race. On Sunday the Bananacoast Ultramarathons went one better with three starters. The equal smallest field to contest the event still managed to provide a slice of history as the three runners set and reset goals on the Orara Way to Grafton.

Or more accurately for two of the protagonists on the journey to Lanitza.

Only one runner, the indomitable Kelvin Marshall, made it all the way to the Crown Hotel finish line. Finishing his 218th Ultramarathon Marshall established his dominance early, charging ahead from the start to leave the other runners, Rodney Ladyman from Brisbane and Bruce Webber from Coffs Harbour to keep each other company. For Marshall it was his sixth finish in the Bananacoast event and his fifth victory. He now has the distinction of having been the winner the only time the race was held on an out-and-back course and the only time only one runner made the entire 83 kilometres journey.

His time of 7 hours 17 minutes 35 seconds was a virtuoso performance. He only realized that his rivals were no longer pursuing him when Rodney Ladyman caught up to him riding in his car. Marshall was already in South Grafton by that time.

Apart from the satisfaction of the victory, somewhat muted by the lack of others to share the podium, the Gold Coast resident was pleased with the training effect of the run as he prepares for a second tilt at the Badwater 135 miles race across Death Valley in the U.S.A. later in our winter but in their summer.

Both of the other runners were also looking for the added spice of competition as they prepared for longer races later this year so were quite content with their efforts on the day. Ladyman reached the Lanitza service station in 6.27.00 while Webber made it there in 6.48.19. The pair had run together for the first 40kms before Webber backed off the pace to save himself for another day. Ladyman will line up, once again with Marshall, in the more popular Glasshouse Mountains Ultramarathons next weekend."

End of quote

Will admit it was a strange win, the fact was when i arrived at the start and found that Rodney and Bruce were to be my only two protagonists i knew i was in a hiding to nothing situation, basically i was a certainty on form (Rodney had been 29 minutes behind me last start at Mt Mee and is probably a better trail rather than road runner and Bruce had finished over 2 hours behind me here last year) so a win was expected by all and if i didn't win i'd struggle to live it down, however the fact is a 50 Mile race (and this is something between 82 and 84K's) is a hard love and nothing is certain until you cross that finish line there's a helluva lot can go wrong in between.
So basically i ignored the numbers and stuck to my race plan, simply trying to run the others off their legs early, pretty much that was how it panned out, certainly i did make one early error, getting a 250ML bottle of cordial at my first drink stop forgot just how hard that climb out of Coffs was and definitely was feeling in need of more fluid. Made up for that the next time by having my whole bottle of Gatorade and i think that evened things out. Early on questioned my decision not to wear gloves, i'd fronted up to the start line in running singlet but wisely had decided to change into the Lululemon Bike Top (it must be approaching 5000K's itself now) and now with pockets to carry stuff had added a couple of Gu's and a small NZ Muesli Bar (From Kepler Challenge), as well as carrying my headband and starting in my Buff Bandanna, however for some reason hadn't given the gloves a thought as i'd easily have enough pockets.
Once up the hill and going through the Orara Valley it was biting cold, but thankfully my fingers, whilst numb, weren't going pale yellow so maybe not as bad as they get, nevertheless was very happy to start feeling my fingers around 30K's in.
Only incident on the road was a cattle dog wanting to show me who was boss (as is usually the way with me and aggressive dogs i can snarl and stare with the best of them and was quite happy to show i was the alpha male), around 40K's in, had a similar incident in 1999 however i doubt that dog would still be around !!.
I did manage to scare myself once though, deciding a steepish hill was a good chance to walk and have my muesli bar i accidentally glanced behind (who knows the last time i looked behind me in a race it's not in my race psychology) and saw someone running, basically bolted the next couple of K's, didn't seem logical but i wasn't taking chances. When next i saw Steel (crewing for me at that point), i told him this and he said it was Lyn taking her turn doing a training run in all honesty i didn't look behind me long enough to recognise anyone all i saw was someone running so my survival instinct kicked in !. Who know's that may have helped my time, especially considering i finished faster than in 1999 when i did 7:23 the only other time i've done this race in this direction (for mine 20 minutes slower than the mostly downhill version to Coffs).
One thing having supplied all my food and drink this was a time i could actually work out what had got me through a race, the following:
In total had 4 litres of Gatorade (3 Blue Raspberry, 1 Lemon/Lime), 250ml's of a raspberry cordial mixture, 2 bananas, one Endura Bar, one "Naked" muesli bar as well as 6 Succeed Caps, to me that seemed pretty right for future races around that distance and i will keep in mind particularly when thinking of this years Gold Coast 100K.

Interesting timewise now that i've done this event 6 times:
5/5/1996 Coffs to Halfway to Grafton and Back (floods causing course to be changed):
6 Hours 50 Minutes (1st of 4 Starters)
10/5/1998 Grafton to Coffs: 6:58:16 (1st of 6 Starters)
9/5/1999 Coffs to Grafton: 7:23 (1st of 6 Starters)
23/5/2004 Grafton to Coffs: 7:31:20 (3rd of 8 Starters with Dave Criniti doing 5:54:16 for the second fastest time ever)
11/5/2008 Grafton to Coffs: 7:14:09 1st of 6 Starters
So definitely satisfied with my time, i guess the real shame is the small fields this race attracts, the only road 50 Miler in Australia and even better with a point to point course, surely the ideal setting for this type of race, i'd just love to see more than a handful out there, can't thank Steel enough for keeping this race going.

Of course the other thing this means i can run the rest of the year without worrying about keeping my streak intact, at least one race win a year every year since 1994, definitely always a relief to get that out of the way, usually i feel i run better after that's done, so bring on Glasshouse 50K's next Sunday.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Mount Mee Classic 26th April 2009

Obviously the previous weeks beach race had taken more out of me than i realised. Certainly the camber of those beaches had meant my hips and back were badly out of whack so i had booked in to the chiropractor on Wednesday, essentially my only training until visiting him was walking as running wasn't an option.
Fixed up i did a relatively easy 30K's on the Thursday as well as a short run on the Friday, so effectively was tapering for Mount Mee.
Whilst i was far from excited that this race was now effectively a marathon (being that distance) and seemingly a shoo in for a new Marathon PW, i could fully understand the organisers reasonings as i'd done this race three times previously on three different 50K courses (for two wins) with field sizes of 6, 10 and 5, so for it to continue bigger numbers really were needed and being a really beautiful place to run it would have been sad to see another race bite the dust.
With a 6AM start i was in bit of a quandary, really no accommodation close by everything seemed at least a 30 minute drive away, so i was probably better having a short sleep at home at setting the alarm for 3 and after having my usual breakfast driving the 100 minutes or so straight there.
Didn't even need the alarm, went to bed after the AFL telecast and with a nice cool night had a really good deep sleep waking at 2:40 quite refreshed, for mine it's the quality of the sleep rather than the quantity that makes the differences (probably explains my occasionally less than great state of mind after night upon night of humidity, sleep long enough then but quality wise is rubbish).
Made it to Dayboro at 5, just in time to see the organisers vehicles starting to unload, so checked in and had a lie down in the car for a bit.
Ultimately 25 starters, a big improvement, lot's of the usual suspects Bruce, Tamyka, Adrian, Rod, Alun amongst them. A few i recognised by sight but couldn't put names to and also suspected were fast at that distance.
A few words from the organiser and we were off, took the lead early, after all it was a road and i always like to run off a few nerves first. Lead for the first 2.5K's but could here footsteps and definitely not interested in taking people on at the non business end of the race, so happily let them take the lead, a man and a woman (Jeff Rudd and Glenda Banaghan i was to find out later), ran comfortably behind them and was overtaken by another bloke, at this point was in a quandary as whether to give fight as the course so far was nowhere near as hard as i'd imagined (and still a bitumen road), ultimately decided i'd run my own race and save myself for the harder parts supposedly ahead.
At the 12.5K checkpoint i was joined by another runner and also saw this wasn't just another marathon we were looking at a dirt road seemingly going up and up infinitely, this was a time to get back into ultra tactics and forget this was a marathon. Walked and ran this, with the other fellow just a little in front doing exactly the same, knew it wasn't helping my time but was confident this strategy would pay dividends. Was passed easily by Adrian Pearce (winner here the year i didn't win), a very good runner on his day, so wasn't going to give chase at this point, just had thoughts of revenge in the back half.
Hit the half way point in a little under two hours, refilled my handheld (my 600 mls of fruit cup cordial, endura mix had lasted that far quite easily with two drink stops in between) and took off, soon a turn, for a little while wasn't dead sure i'd taken the correct turn as i just couldn't remember whether i'd seen an arrow or not (typical me in race mode, will follow an arrow and then question whether i saw it till i see another indicator), thankfully was soon to see a K Marker, thankfully after the 500 odd metre climb from 13 to 21K's it looked like we were having a 500 metre drop, at this point i dropped the other runner and every time i turned a corner expected to see Adrian but not such sighting.
28K's and a checkpoint, thought it was time for a couple of Succeed Capsules, whilst fiddling around there was passed by Tressa Lindenberg, as well as being told my time, my mind definitely wasn't in a good spot, 4 Hours looked about as good as i could achieve and as for being passed (and by a woman at that - excuse the sexism but all is fair in wars such as any race that i contest !!).
Another uphill climb and both Tressa and the fellow i'd passed on the downhill had got away, not sure if i was just mentally down but the last drink didn't seem to be sitting "quite right" on the stomach either, interesting.
From then on ran reasonably but definitely not at my peak, finally made it to the next checkpoint and found it to be a 700 Metre out and back, didn't actually dawn on me at first as i saw two of the marathon runners coming towards me and i said great run thinking they were running back to the start (nevertheless it was still a worthy comment as they were well in front of me).
By now i knew where i was as this was part of last years course, not sure whether that made me happy or not as i knew alot of this was still a tough bugger.
At least now i had 10K runners to chase and pass and did find a new lease of life, towards the 41K mark i was reduced to walking up a hill but noticed the fellow in the front was doing the same, strange but true it looked as though i'd be trying to outwalk a competitor to the finish line, didn't actually pan out that way though.
Got one last effort out of my weary legs and passed him and then essentially ran like hell all the way to the finish line just in case i'd spurred him in.
Less said about the time the better 4:00:50 a Marathon PW by 9 minutes, although i finished in 7th place only 18 minutes behind the winner, definitely mixed emotions.
Confident i'd made the right shoe decision the ancient safety pinned Nike 4.0's (had been a toss up with the Lunarlites, just didn't fancy their lack of achilles protection if the trails got rough), and confident i'd done the right thing using trail Ultra tactics as opposed to my usual road marathon tactics (which are to run as fast as possible the first 20 miles and just see how well i hold on, reckon i'd have been lying on the side of the dirt road somewhere past half way if i'd have tried that), but not impressed with having a 4 against a marathon time.
Still sometimes a need a kick, good training so far this week and maybe i can put together a decent run at Coffs to Grafton on May 10 at least i'll be back to my pet distance.