Sunday, 15 November 2009

Marysville Marathon (and 45K Ultra) 8th November

After the 4 Peaks i had decided to stay in Bright an extra couple of days and do a couple more mountains, first of all Mount Bogong (Victorias Highest Peak and probably my favourite trail run up Staircase Spur) and the next day Mount Porepunkah which had been day 1 the previous 9 times i raced here and deserved a 10th outing

from me.

In theory i was either going to be superfit for my next race or worn out, as it turned out i was somewhere in between. Running (maybe that's an overstatement - walking quickly might be more accurate) a steep uphill 0n Porepunkah i disturbed one rock and the one behind it crashed onto my left ankle, nothing much but i seemed to get an immediate bruise and bit of a "sting" from it, not enough to worry me at the time but just enough to remember it and two days later begin to feel it when do two laps of the Tan (at the Monthly Victorian Road Runners Tan Time Trial, that would make this twice here this year probably more than when i was living in Melbourne !!).

With a 9AM start it meant we virtually had a sleep in before Marysville, i was driving my car giving Robert Boyce a lift as had plans o drive straight back to the Gold Coast from there (and Robert to get a lift home), with the shorter races not on till much later was somewhat shocked to find large crowds at the registration area (whilst there were only 90 in the marathon there were 2,000 pre entered in the other events and ultimately another thousand entered on the day).

Still got my number and ankle chip quickly and still had an hour before race time, walked over to the start area (a few hundred metres from the finish) and had a chat with a number of familiar faces as we waited for the race briefing.

Lachlan (who was not only Race Director and inspiration behind the event was also competing in it) gave the race briefing but when asked about how we would do the extra 2.8K's to complete the Ultra came up with, what seemed to me, a vague "it will be obvious when you get there", certainly the rest of the course sounded good but i now had lingering doubts about the Ultra.

Soon we were off, with the race started by a set of Bells, one of two sets that were all of remained of Lachlans' Marysville House, and was comfortably away on a good road, settled somewhere in the top dozen and still continuing my chat from the Tan with Steven Barker (we'd ran together most of those 8K's to finish in around 35:10 the previous day where i just outsprinted him at the end), with the obvious leader Traralgon Harrier John MacKenzie (a 2:30 Marathoner) leading a pack of 3, and more surprisingly a runner with a running stroller (and child) making good time a couple of places in front of me. Also saw early starter, walker, Brian Glover coming towards me, we had a good 11K before the turnaround, only problem i had was having to stop at the first drink station as the Sports Drink was at the back (water in front).

Once we turned i lost Steve and was making ground on the two in front and feeling good, was definitely going to be a warm day so it was best to make use of the easy running on the road whilst i could as apparently the course would get harder.

8K's on the return and we then turned onto an unsealed road, a bit like the Melbourne Marathon a month back i ended up running straight into a herd of Half Marathoners but with a much smaller field this wasnt a great problem, soon the unsealed road had deteriorated into a road with large rocks and my ankle wasnt really appreciating this, nevertheless i was beginning to make good ground, last drink stop before the other runners turned and it was too crowded to make the effort to get a drink so i was relying on our turnaround not being too far after. Can't say it was that far away, but with heat and no shade i was beginning to struggle and really look forward for the turnaround and was relieved to get there, was soon back to the drink station and had a much easier go at getting a drink as well as now passing the runner with the stroller (hardly a bit of road for a stroller so he was doing it hard).

By now i was regularly passing the runners in the Half and getting a good pace going was just looking forward to getting of the rocky road and soon enough we were, grabbed a GU although at that point didnt see the drink station just needed something and then it was a run towards the oval where we would finish complete with steep downhill section.

By now it was very hot and with the bushland decimated by the fires there was no shade to be found, best thing was the sight of the creek as we ran along, i had no idea where we were heading next as i knew that although we would be passing the finishing line we still had at least 10K's to go.

We were sent along the road towards Steavensons Falls and again i was confronted by a herd of runners, the 3 & 10K events, thankfully with witches hats in the middle of the road i simply stuck to the wrong side of the road with no one returning yet i had a very comfortable run.

I'm sure years ago i'd been to Steavensons Falls but with a totally different landscape now nothing was familiar and every time we went around a corner i was dismayed to see still more runners ahead, reached a drink station where i was informed they were out of water but had sports drink (what a relief!, other way round and that would have been a disaster in my eyes) and still we kept on going, soon we could see the beautiful, refreshing falls in front of us and so knew where we were headed (only wish it was possible to run under them !!), now it was just a case of heading back, thankfully mostly downhill, i'd seen the leaders in the marathon and also had a good idea now of who was around me, so it was a case of run as hard as possible then see what was needed to make it an Ultra.

As we hit the oval i was passed by a runner who i was pretty sure was in the marathon but with only a few hundred metres to go didnt want to take him on as i knew i still had 3 or so K's to go and conserving what little energy i had for that was my plan.

Ultimately i crossed the line in 3:24:59 or thereabouts by the clock (which doesnt seem to agree with my chip time of 3:25:14), far from fast but when you consider John won in 3:02 (A PW for him) you can see this was no ordinary Marathon !!!.

The question then was where do i go for the Ultra ???, and that i asked and the officials didn't know, i thought i should at least have a drink while someone found out but even that was thwarted as they were just getting water in (hot weather and the bigger than expected on the day crowds made organisation very difficult), eventually speaking to Brett Saxon (who was there as photographer rather than runner and who took most of the above photos, thanks) i was told to continue out so decided the logical thing to do was simply add on the 3K run although in theory that made the 45KM Ultra long, so it was back up the hill to Kevin Cassidy's turnaround and i then found a new lease of life as tried to chase down Trailwalker Team Mate Robert Hall who was finishing the marathon (after winning the 50KM Upstream Challenge the day before !!).

As i reached the oval it was announced that Malcolm Gamble had just crossed the line to win the Ultra, so a few muffled curses and i crossed the line in 3:47 and went straight over to the timekeepers to lodge a protest.

Spoke to Mal straight after and seeing that he'd run two minutes slower than me in the marathon and been given a totally different extra run to me decided i was the winner, even more curiously Robert then finished his Ultra by running laps measured by his Garmin until he had 45K's up, so ultimately as first 3 had all done different courses after the marathon.

Despite the very strange finish after the Marathon (and i have yet to find official times for the Ultra in theory it really shouldn't exist on the records ???, but yes i will take the win), this was a great run and a triumph in terms of support for Marysville and congratulations to Lachlan and all his team, will definitely try to make it back next year.

Certainly one of the hardest marathons i've ever done made harder by the weather conditions, ultimately not making it home until Monday evening (was worried by reports of flooding on the Mid North Coast of NSW but thankfully rivers had subsided over my next day of driving), and as i type still troubled by the bruised ankle, still got to commit to my next start.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Mount Buffalo Day 4 November 3

After 3 days in the 30s i knew that the fine hot weather would eventually end and sure enough during the night i heard the gentle pitter patter of rain on my corrugated iron cabin roof, definitely not as hard as some i have experienced here over the years but finally the meteorologists were right !.

Woke in the morning to find it a little cold with some drizzle but really there wouldn't be too big an issue here as this is the easiest of the four runs (in my opinion), although the question was would i take my non compulsory rain jacket or just get it sent to the top ??.

Ultimately decided i'd send up the camelbak with my gloves, jacket and bandanna and travel light, had time to check out yesterdays results (2:16, not flash but around what i was expecting), and also noticed i'd just sneaked into the first page of the results (right at the bottom in 25th place !).

Plenty of time to hang around and chat at the start and also have a toilet break, but by the time i was ready to go the guns were leaving last thing i wanted was to be in a group where the other members left me looking like i was nailed to the floor !!.

Did eventually leave before Twitey but was expecting him to pass me before the next intersection and sure enough that was he case as well as another runner, although at least i caught up with some walkers.

Bit of running and more walking and a constant though light drizzle, meant that by the time i hit the exposed face of Mackeys i was beginning to feel the cold, passed a number of walkers as i zig zagged across the bare face and was looking forward to getting off the rocks and heading back into the bush.

Finally reached there and it was getting seriously colder so once i hit the very runnable last 2K's i took off and did as close as i could to a sprint !!.

Finally reached the steps of the Chalet but my cold addled brain meant that i actually went the wrong side of the tape to the finish line (a tape was dividing the BBQ queue from the finishing line), somewhere between 90 and 100 minutes off hand.

After a chat with a few people i headed off to find my camelbak and warmer clothes really needed the gloves, and not having brought any money with me decided i was best to head back as the weather was deteriorating almost sleeting.

Thankfully this only lasted a couple of K's and by Mackeys there was a bright sun and warmer conditions so i relaxed and took pictures.
Very vague on results, but i know Dave Osmond was overall winner and Hanny Alston First female (and i think second overall), two very prestigous names to add to the perpetual trophy.
Thoroughly enjoyed my weekend and will have to make it back sooner than another 10 years, big thanks to Reg and Elaine and all the helpers, as for me i'm thinking of making Mt Bogong my 5th peak tomorrow dependent on the weather before i head south for Sundays Marysville Marathon.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Mount Hotham Day 3 November 2

Arriving at Tavare Park this morning found yesterdays time was 1:46, another so/so time, still Mount Hotham promised to be much more runnable and i was looking forward to the extra distance.
Nice easy start along the Ovens River but soon we'd hit the trailhead and was rapidly passing early walkers, was happy to spot 25 time Four Peak Veteran Peter Le Busque just in front of me (having started 5 minutes? earlier) as i knew he was always good to follow though not as fast as when i was last here, actually passed him on a downhill stretch just before Washington Creek (complete with bridge i can remember unsteadily using a log in the old days !).
Here was my first navigational mistake, having immediately passed some walkers after crossing the bridge i then had the trail (on the sharp right by a walker coming the other way) and led us all into a dead end, barely lost any distance but it meant Peter was back in front again.
From then on it was up and up and i continued walking at essentially the same pace as Peter in front, we kept on passing more and more walkers and even the odd runner (i'd been passed by two runners in the first section and was hoping that not many more would though i knew my old sparring partner Twitey would be an issue later).
A few nice runnable sections but then Bon Accord Spur got it's revenge, steep and relentless uphill i was sweating heavily and on really steep parts was putting my hands on my knees would the spur ever end and we finally hit the Razorback ???.

Finally we hit the intersection and i knocked back the offer of a lolly as i simply didn't have the energy. Unfortunately at this point Twitey caught up to me and we both pushed hard along the Razorback but eventually he broke away from me (as had Peter), and i finally made Diamantina Hut.

After 10 slices of orange and some water i did what i consider to be the finish of this run i headed off to the summit of Mount Hotham.

I then headed back (as usual one of only two to do so), which is the reason for so many pictures on this blog entry, was feeling really good so my uphill times may well be far from crash hot but i'm definitely in good shape, now if only we could race down.
Was glad to make it back to Harrietville and the Ovens River as it was still 35 in the Ovens Valley, apparently a change is coming through tonight.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Mount Feathertop Day 2 November 1

Got to Harrietville a little later than i did the start yesterday, new that was best or me as waiting is not my strongest suit.
Gave me a chance to talk with few mates and also check yesterdays results, can't say i was too rapt with 1:16 when the winning time by Dave Osmond was 54 minutes and i was barely in the top 30, but i think that sums me up as a mountain runner sure i run mountains but it's like my golf i do play golf but if you then looked at Tiger Woods play you'd find it hard to believe we were doing the same thing and that's a bit like me against real "mountain runners" The Dave Osmond, Robin Rishworth, Greg Mandiles etc of the running world, if i ever need an ego check a race against mountain runners on mountains is ideal!.

Still the course was marginally different than my previous 9 years and in theory that should have been a help as we had an extra K or so to run along the road to the start as we were now starting in Tavare Park to avoid traffic congestion around the camping area.

Set off with Traralgon Harriers Richard Comber and Kathryn (who has run in the World Mountain running Championships), and was happy to let her go and run with Richard but once we hit the trails he was too good.

Strangely seemed a little less runnable than some years (i've probably been up Feathertop a couple of dozen times in all one of my favourite mountains), and seemed to take a long time to work up the speed to pass the walkers.

I was regularly passed by some of the faster runners and was happy to finally make it to Federation and be greeted by a perfect sunny day for the final assault on the top. Was surprised to find my old sparring partner Ian Twite in front of me, obviously i didnt recognise him as he passed me (giving me a 5 minute start !), and kept chasing him but ultimately unable to run him down, again vague with time something under 2 hours but that was about it !!.
Was thankful for jacket, gloves and bandanna at top although i admit eating snow was very thirst quenching as well great when leaning on knees getting it.
Now at least it was time for my fun part, the run down.
Tonight it's the Pasta Party and tomorrow Mount Hotham at least the runs are getting longer with Hotham being 15K's nowadays (and as usual i'll be the solo runner on the way back).
Very hot here as i type (i've been told 35), time to enjoy the Ovens River.