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.

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