Thursday, 3 June 2010

Mount Mee Marathon May 2 2010

Finally it was May and i was due to run a marathon so it was off to Mount Mee, this year the "downhill course" to Dayboro.
Up at 3AM as i was planning to leave the car at Dayboro to get a lift to the start i did at least get that part right.
This was the scene of last years slowest (and only 4 Hour) marathon so i knew this wasn't going to be an easy one and definitely not a PB although in theory should have been the reverse.
Took off well, in dull morning light and as usual coolish conditions and typically here wanted to take the lead, had it for around 4K's and was then challenged by a girl, no idea of her credentials (can't say i do too many races as short as a marathon nowadays !) but was keen to push her and also another bloke hopefully breaking them on the upcoming steep hills.
Didn't quite work that way so thought i'd better stick to my own raceplan rather than trying to run someone elses race so let them (and another fellow) scoot ahead frankly planning to pick up the pieces as the course got the better of them later, wasnt to realise until post race that the girl was a 2:40 Marathoner Roxie Schmidt and one bloke a relay team ! .
Lot's of good downhill but still plenty of uphill and i passed the half in 1:49 hardly world shattering but a big improvement on the other direction.
Had seen glimpses of at least one of the runners in front at various points but Roxie had well and truly flown away, though still had designs on at least being first male.
After finally getting off the trail and onto real roads was told that the next fellow was only 5 minutes ahead and that certainly gave me a boost, but around 35K's in was told by the race director to move to the other side of the road from then onwards and admit i took my mind off the job momentarily just doesnt feel right running with the traffic as opposed to against me and i'm quite convinced that the next runner saw that mental weakness and swooped.
Suddenly i had someone to chase but for once that failed to move me quicker and whilst we were now on roads and heading mainly downwards i just couldn't close the gap ultimately finishing in 3:32:34 4th solo of 33 with Roxie winning in 3:09:50.
Good solid run but already i was having thoughts of my next race, trying to defend my title at next Saturdays DELXC 6 Hour Trail run

Gibraltar Washpool World Heritage Trail 54KM April 18 2010

After an early flight back to the Gold Coast it was now time to grab the tent, grab more gear and hop into the car and go for a 4 hour drive to Gibraltar Range National Park between Grafton and Glen Innes. With Trailwalker on the Friday i always knew this was going to be a tough ask but also remembered just how good this area was when last i hiked it so thought it was worthwhile.
After the Trailwalker frustrations a long drive and another race sounded like the perfect remedy so off i went, finally putting the tent up in the dark (after first going into Washpool NP across the road and seeing the most lyrebirds i have ever seen !). Was happy to see plenty of familiar faces around the campsite and get stuck into some pasta before an early night.
A bit of rain overnight and a little cold but still pleasant weather but simply my tired legs didn't want to be there the first 5 miles or so and it was only once we'd crossed the highway into Washpool (where i'd mistakenly been the night before) and finally i felt i was getting somewhere.
Was getting cool and drizzling more and was very happy to see ANZAC biscuits at the next manned checkpoint (thanks Jane).
Once back into the Gibraltar Park started catching up with some other runners and making up good ground whilst eventually finishing way behind the incomparable David Waugh (with 4:33:10) was content enough with 6th place in 5:46:18 just hope i can do it with fresh legs next year.
As for the drive home (after much socialising as the rest of the field of 24 came in) best said it was long !!!

Melbourne Oxfam Trailwalker April 16 2010

With possibly no overseas races this year i had slightly different goals this year and the Melbourne Trailwalker was probably the one race to the forefront.
With 5 previous starts (for 3 frustrating podium placings) my ambition was simply to finally win one and then i could retire gracefully from team races, not so much because i didn't enjoy them (which i do) but simply because i find them so hard to exert control over, i can run as well as i can but can't do anything about the whole team getting through and there is nothing to me more frustrating than spending a couple of hours walking during a race as team mates have bad patches.
So in short a win in a race of over 700 teams (admittedly with a "pointy end" of around 20 teams) always seemed the appropriate swansong.
Our team had one change forced upon it in February with Michael Lovric being unable to run due to National World 24 Hour race commitments, but we had picked up a worthy replacement in Bryan Ackerly a member of 2008's winning team and teammate in 2007.
I flew down to Melbourne on the Wednesday afternoon looking to have a rest before the race on Friday but all came apart that night when reading emails before heading to bed found that team organiser Rob Hall with injuries sustained 2 weeks prior was a very unlikely starter.
To be honest i unravelled somewhat as i tried to find a worth last minute replacement eventually relying on Facebook and when confirmed that Rob would not be running (15 hours before race start !!!) was fortunate to get Sydney based Keith Hong.
Come race day we had a team kitted in matching uniforms and looking fit and by 20K's we were in the lead, from then on until over half way we ticked along perfectly running easily and steadily and i admit i was feeling confident particularly as i had been running at a very conservative pace and really hadnt needed to worry much about food intake.
Then my least favourite part of the course, the Warburton Rail Trail and Bryan was beginning to have reflux problems (a problem he's had little success with in other events after a certain distance).
Once we hit the school checkpoint we had lost lots of ground and with a bit of waiting necessary i decided it was time for some sandwiches and more food wanting to use this as my last fuel stop with less than 30K's to go.
We now had a new bit of course and looking around at times could see the next 2 teams not far behind, Bryan was gamely hanging on but trying to solve his problem by picking up speed to get the race over and done with as soon as possible was always going to be a risky gambit.
Ultimately around 87K's in he slowed to barely a walk and Mal stayed with him as me and Keith (beginning to feel the oncoming cold dusk) kept on moving steadily.
This was a long section without crew access and it wasnt till 90K's in that we reached our crew vehicle and all getting cold sat in the front of the car.
Bryan was looking deathly pale and shivering and wisely decided that his race was won, we'd spent 20 minutes at the car and two teams had passed us, as far as i was concerned there was only one aim, get across the finish line first and as far in front of those teams as possible.
The last checkpoint was around 94K's and we were around 8 minutes behind those teams by then as we had ran maniacally downhill once the decision had been made, either we'd get there real fast or else end up real injured !.
By now it was pitch black (later in the year than last year when we finished in daylight) and probably my greatest weakness running on trails by headlight but adrenalin was pumping through and we took the others before the summit of Mt Little Joe and crossed the line in 12:24:16 at least 5 minutes in front of the next team. I'd be pushing to actually call this a win but i was rapt to actually be first across the line and i think it's very possible this may still be my last Trailwalker, unless made an offer i "can't refuse", overall a bit of an empty feeling but i was very thankful that Saturday morning i'd be back home and heading off for a 54KM race, maybe that would bring greater joy.