Tag Archives: Race

Kathmandu Adventure Race, Sunshine Coast

Team Whoops Witch Way prior to start

Team Whoops Witch Way prior to start

Today was our first adventure race for the 2013 season; and what an even it was. My sister, and team mate, picked me up at 4:30am for the 1.5 hour drive to the even location at Wild Horse Mountain. After dropping our bikes, we drove over to race HQ to collect our race packs and prepare our maps.

Marking up the map

Marking up the map

Other than Wild Horse Mountain itself, which we weren’t going to run over, the course was almost dead flat. It consisted of three run, three mountain bike and one kayak leg. The navigation was quite basic. There were only two places where cross-country shortcuts would make sense; the rest of the course would follow forestry trails. However, that didn’t mean it would be a doddle because, as we were to find out, many of the trails were overgrown and difficult to distinguish from each other. And that was before we start talking about the mud. The recent rains have turned the pine forest trails into flowing creeks and slippery mud that clung to our shoes and wheels.

Getting our gear ready

Getting our gear ready

After marking the map, we had some time to relax before donning our packs and heading to the race start. The Camelbak is mine. It’s pretty average to run with because it moves a lot and doesn’t have any accessible pockets; I think I will save up for a Soloman SLab pack or something similar. But I digress. We had to carry some mandatory gear, including two litres of water, first aid kit and space blanket, and I carried food and a sports drink as well.

There was a tricky log at the exit to the tunnels

There was a tricky log at the exit to the tunnels (Photo by Element Photo and Video)

We started the race by running around Wild Horse Mountain to CP1. The field split in two as half the teams took the eastern route around the mountain while we took the western approach to CP1. The field was still fairly bunched as we hit CP1 and crossed the waist deep creek to get our first real feel for the ‘adventure’ component of the race. After crossing the creek we followed our ears to the drainage tunnels under the Bruce Hwy. We called out and whooped to make echoing noise as we waded through the half-filled tunnels.

It was seriously muddy out there

It was seriously muddy out there

The rest of the run out to TA1 took us through CPs 3 and 4. At TA1 we collected our mountain bikes and hit the trails. I was glad to be clipped into my pedals because the trail was slippery and muddy; being clipped in made it easier to keep my balance at slow speed as my tyres slipped and struggled to grab into the earth. By the time we crossed under the highway again (this time on a forestry trail) my tyres were so coated in mud I might as well have been riding on slicks.

Trek course

Trek course (Photo by Element Photo and Video)

We found CP7 easily before deciding not to follow the rest of the riders to CP8. They were all riding up the main trail and taking the easy navigation route but we found a narrow trail that was much shorter. We then rode on to CP9 where we again dropped our bikes to head into a mid-race rogaine. We had to find 6/7 checkpoints. This was the second of two time we were able to use a short-cut between CPs. Many teams ran from B to A along the main trails but we waded across a creek and ran cross-country to a more direct trail, overtaking teams as we ran. The rest of the rogaine was relatively easy and we were soon back on our mountain bikes.

The second mountain bike leg was fast. The trails were surprisingly dry and well-maintained so we made good time; as did everyone else. Then we dropped our bikes again a CP13 to hit a long hard foot section. The section was made tougher by the 1.5km of ankle-deep mud and slush we had to try running through, which had been churned up by the teams ahead of us. It was great fun.

Heading to the kayak leg

Heading to the kayak leg (Photo by Element Photo and Video)

After the run we collected the big heavy two-person kayaks that the event organisers had for us. Fortunately, the organisers had plenty of boats so there was no queue or delay. We carried the heavy bathtub down to the water, dropping it to push it through puddles as we went to reduce the strain (though kayaks were seriously heavy!).

The best thing since sliced bread

The best thing since sliced bread

The mosquitoes in Coochin Creek were hard core. Fortunately, my sister had  a packet of mosquito wipes, which were brilliant and gave us relief. We’re strong on the water. We seem to be able to paddle in sync. My sister took the opportunity to take some nutrition on board and shared some with me. We overtook six teams out on the water and caught up with two others by the time we exited the creek. It’s a good feeling to be good at a discipline.

Finished

Finished

All that was left after the kayak was one last ride back to the finish. The final stretch was awesome! It was narrow, wet and muddy. The going was slow and I took a spill in a big puddle but that just added to the fun. Over the course of the race, my sister and I each took involuntary plunges into large puddles; and I intentionally jumped in a few too.

We finished strong and had a fantastic time. If you live in Australia and have ever thought about maybe giving an adventure race a try; I can recommend the Kathmandu series.

Total: 17.5km trail run, 18.6km mountain bike, 3km kayak – 4:04:45

Result: 7th / 39 mixed teams and 36th / 140 total teams

My next ultra marathon

I know I shouldn’t. But I’m going to.

I still have an entry into the Red Rocks to Coffs 45km trail run. I entered last year as a super early bird and then got injured so didn’t think I’d be able to participate. The race is being held on 21 April and I have decided that I miss ultra running too much to skip it.

My goal for the event is just to enjoy the experience and scenery, even if I have to do a lot of walking. That’s the great thing about the ultra trail running scene here in Australia; it’s okay to be slow.

I don’t have many miles in my legs yet this year but I also am moving well out on the trails. I figure that if I can run the first 10-20km at a slow trot and then walk/run the rest of the course (with stoppages to take photos) that it will be good training.

As I said, I know I shouldn’t; but I’m going to.

Update on Upside Down Rogaine results

In a surprising result (for us), team Whoops Witch Way came:

  • 11th / 20 mixed teams (the top 4 teams were all mixed so that shows the quality of the field)
  • 25th / 52 teams in total.

So it seems we did quite well and shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves for our night navigation misadventures.

Washpool World Heritage Trail Run: A volunteer’s perspective

Waiting for the runners to arrive at CP2

The Washpool World Heritage Trail Run offered runners of all abilities an opportunity to explore the World Heritage listed Washpool and Gibralter Range National Parks. Runners could chose from 9km, 25km and 50km trail running events, depending on their abilities and intentions. Thirty-one intrepid adventurers chose to run the 50km option.

I was going to run the 50km event but had to withdraw due to injury so I decided, instead, to make the 450km (280 miles) trek each way to volunteer at the on-course aid stations for the 50km runners. I’m glad I did because the event was a fantastic opportunity to spend time in a beautiful part of the world and to be part of such a wonderful event.

A gorgeous quiet place to camp

For most runners and volunteers, the event started with an overnight camp at Mulligans Hut campsite. With a large area available for campers, this represented a unique opportunity to spend time with other runners and their families outside the usual race environment. It also allowed runners to relax in the lead up to their chosen event, rather than having to leave home early to drive anywhere.

A lot of logistics go into trail running events

Instructions and promise of a hot weekend

The finish line being prepared

A lot of preparation goes into an event like this. Beyond the acceptance of entry fees and scheduling of the event, the race director also has to negotiate access to the course and camping facilities, set up the course signage and remember to bring equipment for every possible eventuality. In this case, Washpool National Park is a remote wilderness area in which about half the 50km course was inaccessible by car and in which there is no mobile phone coverage. To make matters more challenging, the area is currently experiencing a heat wave with daytime temperatures reaching in excess of 35’C (95’F). This makes the provision of water and other fluids at aid stations even more important.

It’s wildflower season

More wildflowers

The event is held in October to make the most of the wildflower season. Washpool is blessed with an array of native Australian plants that burst into flower in the spring. While the blooms were slightly subdued this year due to a lack of rain, the area still had plenty of white, purple, yellow, orange and red flowers.

CP1: Food and hydration options

CP1: We lined the drop bags up and tried to keep colours together

As a checkpoint volunteer, I worked with the fabulous J, who is also an ultra runner who came to volunteer for the day, and K, who was a spectator who happened to have a campervan that was the perfect size to throw our mountain of gear into. Our first task was to take everything out to the 9.5km mark where we set up CP1. With a long 28km stretch of trail between CP1 and CP2, many runners had requested drop bags.

As this was our first stint as ultra marathon CP volunteers, J and I didn’t have any real plan about what to do until we arrived. But then it all became very natural to us: we set up the food and hydration table on one side of the track and lined all the drop bags on the other so that everyone had easy access to their gear. It seemed to work well when the runners arrived shortly after we set up.

Drop bags lined up in the shade at CP2

Other than cutting up fruit, our biggest task was filling waterbottles and bladders

After the final runner left CP1, we loaded K’s campervan and transported everything down to CP2, just 10km down the road but a long hot 28km run for the runners. We had plenty of time to set up the food and hydration table, and to line all the drop bags up in the shade of the trees. J, K and I then settled in to get to know each other a little better to pass the time.

While the first few runners cleared CP2 quickly, most of the field needed some assistance here to fill drink bottles and hydropacks. At times, we could focus all our attention on a single runner while there were also times when we would be moving between 5-6 runners at a time. It was a privilege to see the full field make their way through the checkpoint and to be part of their personal journeys.

One by one the runners left CP2 to tackle the final 15km

And then, one-by-one, they all left us to continue the final leg of their adventures. All we could do was hope they had taken on enough water, food and encouragement to help them reach the finish line, 15-17km away.

Thank you to Greg and TRAQ for putting on the event, and allowing me to be part of it in my own small way. And thank you to the runners who were so friendly and cheerful despite the obvious fatigue you were experiencing after so many hours out in the hot sun. I learned a lot from each of you and know that my experience as a volunteer will improve my abilities as a runner.

City to Surf Marathon, Perth

Today I ran my first marathon. And I’m proud to say that I completed it in just under 4:17. It’s also my second 12-in-12 Challenge event. I’m a little tired so I’m going to be lazy and just post some photos and videos, rather that typing a lot of words. I hope you don’t mind.

Pre-race breakfast salad

I started the day with a delicious breakfast of salad. I’m finding my body loves being fueled this way. Today’s salad was mesculin lettuce mix, spinach, carrots, beetroot, broccoli stems, slivered almonds and macadamias with a creamy garlic dressing.

I got to go into the ‘marathon’ room

The marshalling room at about 5:15am

I got the marshalling area 15 minutes early, which left me time to calm my nerves with some Qi Gong.

1,201 marathon runners walking to the start

One of the cool costumed runners

It was a long walk to the start line and everyone was chatting nervously to randoms.

Robert de Castella’s motivating and rousing speech at the start of the marathon. I also filmed myself crossing the start line. I was so nervous that I had to stop about 500m down the road at my hotel to use the bathroom in the lobby for a nervous wee.

The view back to Perth at the 12km mark

The run along the river with the sun coming up was amazing!

Somewhere around the 17km mark. I was loving life at this point and running at about 5:40 pace.

I ran through the halfway point (half marathon) at 2:00.53. That’s pretty good for me.

The top of The Terrace at 22km

The 5km from the river, through the half-way point and up to King’s Park were all uphill. But then we got to enjoy running along the boulevard of gum trees that I love so much.

The half marathon runners joined us as we ran through King’s Park. It was tough because they were still fresh and were running so quickly compared with us marathoners. To be honest, it was almost disheartening. Then, just before the 32km mark, as we left King’s Park, the 12km runners came heading up the hill. I felt so emotional when it happened because here I was, settling into my own little world of pleasure and pain when suddenly I became part of something so much bigger. The sound of the tens of thousands of foot steps was surreal.

I won’t lie: I struggled from about 32km onwards. I started needing to walk a lot more; largely because my right hamstring was tight and two toes on my left foot were stinging. But I made it a power walk and still maintained a fairly positive attitude. I didn’t want to get negative like some of the runners around me.

From 37km on I started counting down the kilometres by texting both my partner and a running club friend. It made it seem so real.

And then, at 40km, just when I thought I was almost there, the course had a nasty surprise of four big hills. You can tell the marathoners in this clip: we are the people walking or shuffling. The other runners are the half marathoners.

And then I finished! This was my first marathon. I almost feinted when I crossed the line and struggled to keep my feet. The recovery tent was a long way from the finish line and I couldn’t make it. I lay down and it was all I could do to keep from bursting into tears. I asked two medics for help getting water but they just told me to stand up and walk to the recovery tent. I don’t think they realised that I was in mild trouble. But perhaps they weren’t runners.

My post-race pile of mess

City Beach Perth after the race

After I spent some time in the recovery tent (I eventually got there but it was touch and go), my partner and I walked to nearby City Beach. She waited patiently while I went down to the water and stood thigh deep in the icy cold ocean as a pseudo ice bath.

We then caught the free shuttle bus back to Perth CBD. While waiting in the queue I needed to use a toilet to urinate urgently (for the millionth time since finishing). The bus monitor man got all angry with me telling me that the toilet I used was for staff only. I simply told him that had I not used the bathroom I would have urinated on his bus. He got angry with me so I walked off. I wish I’d taken the inappropriately behaved man’s name because I would have reported him to TransPerth for his behaviour. There were no other toilets anywhere and it really was a matter of use a toilet or wet my pants. And given that I do not have a penis, I can’t just find the nearest tree.

All in all, it was a brilliant event. I had a fantastic run and surprised myself with my time.

Total: Marathon run in 4:17 (gun time)

One final run and packet pick up

Perth Royal Yacht Club, Fremantle Annex

My body woke me again at 2:30am and then at 3am. But I manage to go back to sleep until just before 5am, when I decided to step outside and head off for one final pre-marathon run.

Stars shone in the sky as I ran down to Fremantle’s fishing boat harbour. The town was quiet but for cleaners and street sweepers tidying up after last night’s Friday night excesses. It’s a scene that I’ve seen repeated in cities around the world where I’ve run or walked in the early hours of Saturday mornings; something that binds us all together.

I ran to the end of the Mew Street harbour wall and found the ‘Evans Above geocache (GC2KZZV). While there, I marvelled at the expensive boats moored in the Perth Royal Yacht Club, Fremantle Annex marina under lights. I took a cute little travel bug from the geocache, which has traveled from the US through the Middle East and SubContinent; I’ll move it along throughout my travels here in Western Australia.

From Mew Street I ran to the Round House and down to the Fremantle Passenger Ferry Terminal where I found two more geocaches. My run was very light today. I just ran slowly from cache to cache, not wanting to overdo it on the day before my first marathon (and second 12-in-12 Challenge event).As I ran back down South Terrace I had a giggle at the cyclists sitting at one of the many cafes. They were all wearing their lycra outfits but had clearly not yet been out cycling because none of their bikes had lights on them (the sun was not yet up).

Breakfast of champions

I have recently started eating salads for breakfast. I was inspired to try this dietary change after reading Born to Run. Despite being away on holidays, I am still eating my salads because without them I actually feel pretty ordinary. The other bonus (as mentioned in Born to Run) is that I know I am getting my five serves of vegetables a day. Today’s salad is mesculin lettuce mix, spinach, carrots, beetroot, broccoli stems, macadamias, slivered almonds and a creamy garlic dressing.

Packet pick up … I’m number 550

I wrote a sign for my partner to hold up

After breakfast my partner and I made our way to Perth where I am running the City to Surf Marathon tomorrow. I collected my race packet, which is just a race number and clothes transfer bag. I also picked up a sign provided by the sponsors. The sign is for my partner to hold when I run past her. I wrote my name and a silly message on it. She’ll only see me at about the 500m mark and then the finish but that’s okay. I like the sign.

Total: 4.2km in unknown time. 3 geocaches found.

Lake Manchester Trail Run

The start

There are four of us from Brisbane Bayside Runners and Walkers (or is that Talkers?) who have come to the 22km Lake Manchester Trail Run. For C, it’s his third half marathon in as many weeks. For R, who is an experienced road runner, it’s her first trail running event. And for L, this will be her first run at a distance further than 14km. My goal for this race is to enjoy the experience by running with R and L.

The hills were plentiful, steep and long

Yep, another hill

The race material said that there were seven hills that the race director called ‘seven dwarfs’ at the start of the trail and that the middle section was flat around the lake. Well, that will teach me for believing event material; the course was a string of hills all tacked after each other for 22km. There were almost no flat sections and the downhills were covered in loose scree-like gravel that made it feel like we were skiing on ball bearings. So, for us, it was not a fast course. But we did get a hard core glute workout.

There were creek crossings galore

The course crossed a number of very pretty creeks. Some were ankle-deep and wide, while others could be crossed by walking on rocks. We walked through some creeks, enjoying the cool water on our feet. However, where possible, we crossed over the rocks to try to keep our feet moderately dry. The water was clear and the vegetation around the creeks was lush.

The course was lovely

Despite the challenging hills, the course was lovely. It took us through tall gum trees that reached high into the sky and through rain forested areas. At the top of the ridges we could see the mountain ranges of Brisbane Forest Park and D’Aigular National Park stretching out into the distance. The bell birds’ song rang through the bush and the crack of the whip bird call punctuated the tune. There was a light breeze that kept the temperature mild but not cold. It was a perfect day for running.

Heading for home around the lake

As we ran around the course, we talked about running and events we might like to enter. I thoroughly enjoyed R and L’s company. M didn’t run with us because he was flying the flag for our club out in the front of the field. But I enjoyed his company during the pre- and post-race periods. R and I decided to enter the 2013 Oxfam Trailwalker in Brisbane. We decided to do it in the same style as the Lake Manchester Trail Run: a relaxed style.

Mmmm … soft grass with 500m to go

We had a glorious run out on the course. While my time was a lot slower than I had intended when I first entered the event, it doesn’t matter because R, L and I all were able to finish together. We ran as a team, ensuring that L completed her first half-marathon distance event. It was a huge achievement on such a tough course for a runner who had previously never run more than 14km. For me, personally, the event was a huge confidence boost because I learned that I can just cruise around a 22km course without experiencing any distress.

Total: 22km in 3hrs 14 minutes

Perth City to Surf

I won an entry to the Perth City to Surf race, which is being held here on the west coast on 26 August.

I happen to be on holidays that week so have asked my partner whether we can change our holiday destination plans(again) to Western Australia. She said ‘yes’ so I can accept the prize.

All I did was ‘like’ a post on the Pan Pacific Perth’s Facebook page. We always stay at the Pan Pacific when we come to Perth for work.

Now I have to go back to the hotel to find out whether I’ll be running the 12km, half marathon or marathon. Would it be silly to try to negotiate entry to my first marathon with my already ridiculous race schedule? 😉

Brisbane Running Festival

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My right hand is numb and my fingers no longer move. I’ve been standing out in the cold since 5am and, despite the cold I’m having a blast.

It’s about 7am, and the marathon and half marathon runners are passing me in a steady stream. My hand is so cold because I’ve been holding it up to show the runners which way to go.

I never realised there were so many runners in Brisbane. And I know there are even more coming later in the 10km event and still more who haven’t entered the Brisbane Running Festival.

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I’m volunteering as a course marshal down at Kangaroo Point near the Brisbane Jazz Club not far from the Story Bridge. I am here to support my running club mates from Brisbane Bayside Runners and Walkers.

It’s a brilliant event and wonderful to share this experience with my club mates. I film each of them as they pass through. There are so many of them that the clip ends up being over 3 mins long after I put all the little sections together.

At about 7:15am I look up and see the silhouette bodies of thousands of 10km runners streaming across the Story Bridge. The sight is magical. I feel intimately connected with humanity and intensely proud to call Brisbane home. We must live in a brilliant city to have an event like this. All these thousands of people coming together with a shared goal: to enjoy a running race.

My club mates all run well. We are represented across all the events and throughout the field. We have runners who win their categories and one who came top 3 (maybe he won, I haven’t checked the results yet). We have a lady who just finished her first marathon and a few who finished their first 10km.

But most importantly, we have runners who just got out and gave it a go for the pure joy of participation. It wasn’t all about winning and, to me, that’s how sport should be enjoyed.

I’m glad I gave up a few hours to help with the event. It was time well spent.

Glasshouse Mountains Trail Run: Flinders Tour

At 12.5km. I was feeling strong.

I did it! I completed my first 50km trail run today. And I did it the day after I completed the Conondale Range Great Walk so I am doubly proud of my efforts.

The Flinders Tour is part of the Glasshouse Mountains Trail Running series, which has a history dating back to 1990 when the Glasshouse 100 was the first 100 mile trail run in Australia. The Flinders Tour event, held every July, has a 10km, 25km and 50km option; I took the 50km options.

A lot of the course was on fire trail

I took the early start option because I wasn’t sure I’d make the cut-offs. I was moderately confident of making the 7 hours cut-off for the finish but didn’t think I’d make the 3:15 cut-off for 27km. I also didn’t want to run with the pressure of time chasing me. I wanted the luxury of knowing that I could totally bonk and walk half the course while still finishing within the adjusted 8 hour cut-off.

The course started with a nasty run up Mt Beerburrum. While the mountain is only about 289m high, the trail is bitumen and heads straight up. All but one of us in the early start walked the entire bitumen section of the climb. The views of the breaking dawn creeping over the Glasshouse Mountains were a brilliant way to start the run.

At 25km. Still feeling strong.

After Mt Beerburrum the course followed fire trails and short sections of single track through the pine forest plantations that surround the Glasshouse Mountains. I traveled well for the first 18km. I ran all the flats and downhills, and walked only some of the hills. At 18km I hit a small wall because my feet started to hurt a lot from the sharp gravel that covered much of the fire trail. But I walked my way through it for about 500m and then decided I was going to run to the 20km mark. That was all I needed because just after 20km I reached the third checkpoint where they had Endura, watermelon and salty pretzel sticks.

After the aid station I decided to run to 25km, take a photo and keep running to the 27km turn around. And that’s exactly what I did. I ran. I wanted to prove that I could reach 27km in 3:15. While I would have missed the cut-off if I’d started at the actual start time because I left the turn around checkpoint at 3:20, I was happy to have made it to the turn around in 3:15 and to be feeling strong. Just before the turn around I passed all the 25km runners who were running towards us. There were a lot of them and passing each other was difficult but it was a lovely change to running alone (I ran alone from about 8km to just before the 27km turn around).

A small stretch of single track through long grass.

After the turn around I felt strong as I ran towards the 30km mark but then started to get a bit lost in the enormity of the challenge. I had to fight my mind telling me that it was silly to be out there. But I was prepared for this eventuality and simply kept reminding myself what a blessing it is to be able to participate in this type of event. Just after 32km we ran down a short section of single track. I knew it was coming so for the 2km I was struggling I waited for the checkpoint so that I could enjoy the single track. It was rough and grassy; a fun area to run.

Occasionally we actually saw the Glasshouse Mountains

After the single track we ran on more fire trail. I was finding the going tough on my feet. While the Vibrams are great for my form, my feet definitely aren’t yet tough enough to handle this type of rocky terrain. I think it’s because I couldn’t move my toes to change the way they impacted against the rocks; they were just splayed in the shoes’ toes. So I decided to buy a pair of Merrel Trail Gloves as an alternate running shoe for this type of longer run where the surface will be too hard for my feet in the Vibrams. No doubt I’ll be able to run this type of course in Vibrams in future; I just need to give my feet time (you have all seen my training reports and probably realise I don’t really do enough miles to have tough feet yet).

This is where I hit the wall bad!

At 37.56km I hit the wall really badly. I had been running steadily more slowly since 30km with bursts of energy. I was still happy with my speed of 7.8kph. Fortunately, there were three ladies who were walking the 25km course who I came across as I hit the wall. I spent 2km walking with them. They kept me going by chatting to me. It was amazing. I was feeling horribly low and talking to them took my mind off the pain in my feet and the struggle in my mind.

And then I hit a checkpoint. I had eaten a Powerbar while I was walking, and stocked up on Endura, Coke, watermelons and salty pretzel sticks at the checkpoint. It did the trick. I started to run. And I felt so empowered and high that I took this short video clip to share with you all.

We had to run through this virtual obstacle course twice.

At the top of the hill I was walking up in that clip I had to navigate my way through an obstacle course of fallen tree trunks that were laying across the track. They were probably put there to stop dirt bikers from traveling on the trail but they also made life difficult for me. But not so difficult that I couldn’t keep going. After crossing the tree trunks I ran all the way down the next hill and then started to catch back up to the runners who had overtaken me when I was struggling with the wall.

The view back at the 50km mark

Exhausted at 50km and hating the fact that the course was an extra 1.64km long

And then it happened. I hit that sweet spot where I could keep running through my exhaustion. I caught up with and overtook five experienced ultra runners who I’d been trading places with all day (they had also taken the early start). And I just kept going! I decided that I wanted to finish the race in less than 7 hours. My mind took over and I was able to ignore the pain in my body (to an extent). The extra 1.64km over 50km was really tough but I pushed through. The mind is stronger than the body.

I took these two video clips with my phone to share the final stretch of my 50km trail run with you. Sorry about the quality though.

Total: 51.64km in 6:48.