Race report – SARRC Dolphin Run 2017

Obligatory post-race selfie for Strava. That is NOT my shadow, by the way!

The Dolphin Run is the first SARRC race of the year, which is an out and back run along the coast at Semaphore. It was also the very first 10k race I ever ran, back in 2013, after only having started running 3 months earlier, in a very respectable time of 48:10. It is a tradition for me, one of only 2 events I have run every year since I started running (the other being City-Bay). In the past there has always been a 5k and a 10k and I have always done the 10, even though it is probably my least favourite distance! It is my one token 10k each year!

This year for the first time there was also a 15k on offer which proved popular. I did consider it – it probably would have been a better option given that I have a marathon in 8 weeks (let’s just gloss over that for now shall we – I’m not quite ready for it to be so soon!) but tradition won out and I entered the 10k.

So 2013 was a triumph of sorts, being my first 10k race (and from memory I hadn’t run 10k too many times in training). 2014 was the year I did my first marathon. Traditionally the Barossa Marathon 16 week training programme begins the day after the Dolphin Run. However, in 2014, the Dolphin Run was postponed by a week due to extreme heat forecast on the scheduled race day (certainly not unheard of in February!) meaning that it then clashed with my first scheduled long run (21km). As I’d already entered, I was committed to run the race, but inexperienced me decided I needed to get my long run in as well. So I did an early coastal 21.1k (had to get that half marathon distance in – the first of many!) by myself on the Saturday, and then ran the Dolphin on Sunday. Unsurprisingly it was a PW (Personal Worst) partly due to what I’d done the day before, and partly due to the brutal headwind for the last 3km.

In 2015 conditions were much more favourable and I broke my PB from 2013.

In 2016 I broke 45 minutes for the first time and you can read my report here.

My first sub-45 minute 10k and therefore (at the time) a PB! (I have since run a faster 10k in a different event but this remains my Dolphin Run PB)

So 2017 was my 5th straight 10k Dolphin Run. I didn’t really have particularly high expectations although I had told the volunteer coordinator that I expected to do sub-50 (so they would know what time I’d be available to volunteer afterwards). The weather conditions are so variable and can really affect times! Obviously everyone has to contend with the same conditions so if you’re going for a placing, the conditions shouldn’t matter, but if you’re going for a time, they can really make a difference!

I wasn’t too fussed about times for a few reasons. One, I’m not setting my expectations too high for Boston. Two, I’d had a pretty high mileage week (I’d done 65km before Sunday’s race). Three, I had been at the Guns N’ Roses concert at the Adelaide Oval (dancing for most of it) and it was so good, it was hard to wind down and go to sleep when I eventually got to bed!

With the lovely Mel just minutes before the start! Not my real hair! It got cool during the night so despite it being quite scratchy, I was glad for the warmth the mullet wig offered!
One of only 2 photos I took during the concert. Because I was too busy enjoying it rather than, you know, filming it like EVERYONE in front of me!

Pre-race nutrition was interesting to say the least. Dinner was a vegetarian pasty from the Bakery On O’Connell before heading to the Oval, and I had to make tracks back there after the concert to have one of their legendary head-sized vegan chocolate donuts at 11pm. Perfect!

It was an early start on Sunday as I was to be there at 7 to help out with bib collection. As a member of the SARRC Board, I had offered to help out with any volunteer gig, on the condition that I still be able to run.

As someone who is into colour coordinating my running outfits, I was excited to discover that I had a top that matched my green running skirt perfectly – conveniently also a SARRC top, last year’s Adelaide Marathon singlet. As it was chilly (and raining) I decided on rainbow arm warmers. I wore my new favourite Steigen socks and finally my usual running hat, more so to keep any potential rain out of my eyes and to reduce the chill on my head, than to protect me from the sun. Sunglasses were not required!

I helped out with the bibs for an hour or so (I quite enjoyed that, there were a lot of familiar faces and a lot of people I hadn’t met before) before Voula told me I could head off for my warmup. I just ran about 1.7km to get the legs loosened and to allow myself to peel off a layer, and on the way back to the start line I saw the 15k runners head out for the first part of their race. The run out (south) was into a stiff headwind so I decided that it definitely was NOT a PB day!

Pretty soon it was our turn – I was probably mid-pack at the start. As I said, I wasnt too fussed about times. The 10k was the most popular of the 3 events with 164 finishers. And the weather turned nice – the wind dropped to nothing, just before we started!

There’s probably not a lot to say about the race itself. The 10k was a straight out and back, heading north first and then turning at 5k. The 15k had headed south first, then back past the start and did their last 10k with us. MANY of them passed me. Some had already passed even before we started (they started 20 minutes before us, so therefore they were running well under 4 minute kilometres!)

The drink stations were only a few kilometres apart but I don’t tend to drink in the shorter races so I didn’t need to stop, although I tried to thank as many of the volunteers as I could!

Pic thanks to Rachael, one of the awesome volunteers!

I knew my friend Tracie, one of the official photographers, would be around the 3k mark so I was looking out for her. I was conveniently all out on my own at that stage so I hammed it up a bit, taking my hat off to show my still relatively shorn scalp! (I thought maybe I might be a bit buggered to do anything fun when I passed her on the way back!)

Official photo from Tracie of Geosnapshot! See, I even coordinated my bib with my outfit!

I was sitting on 4:33 min/km at the turnaround so sub 50 was a no-brainer unless a gale force headwind suddenly popped up (it didn’t).

I was conscious of not trying to work out where I was placed in the field. As the faster runners started heading back towards the finish line at Semaphore (as I approached the turnaround) I didn’t let myself look at their bibs. I knew there were a few ladies ahead of me and a couple had flown past me after a few kilometres, but what I didn’t realise at the time and probably should have, was that they were actually 15k runners! The 15k had orange bibs and ours were red – it was kind of hard to tell them apart!

After the turnaround I started paying attention to who was behind me and encouraging as many of them as I could. If I knew them, or if they had their names printed on their bibs, I would call out their name. I can still remember being pretty excited when I did my first half marathon and random strangers were calling my name! I was slightly freaked out that they knew my name, until I realised it was right there on my bib! Duh!

I even got in a few high fives to runners coming the other way – Min-Qi and Allen both got a high five (actually Allen’s stung a little bit!) and a few others including Ellen got ‘virtual high fives’ because I wasn’t quite quick enough to get the hand out!

I saw most of the 15k runners as well as all the 10k runners – the 5k went the opposite way so we didn’t see them at all.

On the way back past Tracie I saw her but called out to her that I was in serious mode. So I just left the hat on and ran normally – so there might be a bit of a contrast between my photos! (Race photos 101 – try to be out on your own, or with a friend, when you see the photographer, so you’re not just a face in the crowd. Nailed it both times!)

With around 2km to go I ran past a small personal training group at one of the playgrounds. They were doing leg kicks on all fours but what really got my attention was their choice of soundtrack – ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ by GN’R! I complimented them on their choice of music and carried on, that definitely gave me a boost!

Then towards the end I was just saying hello to everyone on the path – runners, walkers, dogs… amazingly a lot of the walkers didn’t bother to respond! (The dogs were very polite though!) And I was high fiving marshals at every opportunity!

With a few hundred metres to go there was a bit of a headwind but with the finish line in sight it wasn’t a big issue. I did a sneaky look behind (the only time I allowed myself to look back) and couldn’t see any other females, so I knew that whatever place I was in, was where I would finish!

I was pretty excited when I saw Voula at the finish line and she told me I was 3rd! (First thought – how do I break the news to my cleaner – my mum – that I’ve just created more dusting work for her?)

My official time was 45:16 – less than 30 seconds off last year’s PB. Very happy. My average pace for the second half was 4:30 – a negative split!

I was happy with my pacing overall – relatively consistent (as it should be, on a flat, calm course!)

The trophy was pretty cool too!

My first ever 10k trophy! And see, it’s got a girl on it! Looks just like me too, with the flowing ponytail… oh, wait…

Of course I have to thank the 15k event for taking some of the super fast ladies away from the 10k and allowing me to finish 3rd in a slower time than last year  (when I finished 13th). Also the always popular Yumigo! Summer Trail Series clashed with the Dolphin Run this year which would definitely have affected the numbers! Still – a trophy’s a trophy, right?

I finished off the morning by helping out with the merch sales. I used an EFTPOS machine for the first time – conveniently the first customer was a retail worker, so she was able to show me how to use it! I may have a future career in retail! 
Well done to all who ran/walked, and a massive thanks as always to all the fantastic volunteers for making this a brilliant event once again (and making it possible for me to run it)! A perfect way to kick off the running year!

Beating the heat!

This is timely, given that this past week in Adelaide we have had something of a mini heatwave, not to mention my recent trip to Brisbane!

Here are a few ways I deal with running in the hot weather.

Do nothing.

If it’s one isolated hot day, it’s probably feasible to take the day off. And if you’re not training for something big, you could also take the day off.

DISCLAIMER: I don’t necessarily advocate pipe-smoking.
OK just putting it out there. Totally coming back as a cat!

Do something else.

Swimming is a great option on a hot day (although if outdoors during the day, you will still need sun protection). I was right into swimming last summer but it’s not happening for me this summer – I don’t actually enjoy it, and I need to get into the habit. Plus I really don’t like indoor pools, and the outdoor pools are all closed during winter, making it hard to keep the routine going. And I don’t really fancy swimming in the lake or the sea, although if I am ever going to get a triathlon under my belt I guess I’m going to have to do it sometime…

It looks so inviting…

There is also gym cardio such as a spin class or just riding the exercise bike. I think you’d probably sweat just as much in a spin class than in a hot run though…

Run early.

This is my preferred option. My weekday runs are all at that wonderful time of day – ‘arse o’clock’. It can be very difficult getting up on the cold winter mornings but in summer, in my opinion, this is the BEST time to run. It is usually the coolest time of day (although when the overnight minimum is 300C, ‘cool’ is a relative term) and you generally don’t have to worry about sun protection (unless you live in Queensland where there is no daylight saving and therefore it is effectively an hour later). Actually, I think arse o’clock is the ONLY time to run if you’re in Queensland in summer! And of course after a morning run you can have coffee and then go start the day, knowing that when you finish work you don’t have to somehow find the time and energy for a run!

The reward for getting it done early!
All of the colours!

Run late.

On occasions, usually on weekends, I have done my long runs in the evening – again to avoid the hottest part of the day. I try to finish before it gets dark, otherwise I’d have to carry a head torch. And, if you’re in the right place you might even get to see an awesome sunset!

Sunsets never get old!

Go somewhere cooler.

I do most of my long road runs along the coast where there is a breeze (and proximity to the ocean for a post-run cool-off dip!) and it is usually a few degrees cooler. I almost always have to contend with a head wind in one direction, but to me it’s worth all the benefits! Plus there are usually plenty of good cafes along the coast, as well as frequent water fountains. You could also hit the trails/forests where there is a bit more shade.

A few degrees cooler, a breeze, and a perfect place to cool off after the run!
The trails are a perfect place to cool off!


Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

In the hot weather I always carry a drink, either water or sports drink, on my morning runs. The only exception would be for parkrun (because it’s a shorter run). I would also make an exception for races of 10k or less, but there don’t tend to be many of those during the summer! For my long runs I will always use a hydration vest with sports drink in the bottles (I am currently not using a bladder as mine started leaking and I haven’t gotten around to buying a new one, but I find that for the longest marathon training run of 36km, just the bottles are enough). Running somewhere with plenty of water taps allows me to top up my bottles if needed (I’ll bring extra powder to make up some more sports drink) without having to carry any excess weight.

If you’re happy to run just with water, you might find that if you pick your route appropriately, you might be able to get away with just using water taps. I prefer to carry, because it minimises stops, and sometimes the water taps aren’t working (or the water out of them tastes like arse!)

OK so this is probably not the best hydration plan…
And this is not either, but NOTHING tastes better after a hard run!

Wear the right gear!

Especially on the long runs where I would wear a hydration vest, I need to make sure I wear clothing that breathes. Cotton is bad (most runners would know that already). I like a top with mesh especially on the back, to allow sweat to evaporate (although with a hydration vest on, it really has nowhere to go and you probably will still end your run looking like you just went in the shower fully clothed!) You also want to make sure you have the right socks, because if they get wet, cotton socks won’t dry and that’s a recipe for blisters!

NOT a good choice of running kit by me!
I probably wouldn’t wear it myself but I certainly have no complaints about him wearing it!
Ahhh that’s better! Shameless plug alert! Mekong’s tops are both comfortable and stylish!

Plan your events.

As I said earlier, there don’t tend to be many big running events (in particular road events) during the Australian summer. However, if you are training for a marathon in April (when the Australian marathon season starts) you are going to have to be training through the summer, and that includes long runs. So if you really can’t deal with the heat, think about picking a marathon in July or August, so you can train through the cooler months (which of course, has its own challenges!)

1.6km in and dripping already. The joys of training for an April marathon!

Oh and then there is this. Bit extreme I know (especially for the ladies out there) but it is certainly a great way to keep cool!

asbcreative-lfwgs-hit107-052
OK so I didn’t do it JUST to keep cool. I also did it so I would run faster. 😉

(You might notice ‘run on a treadmill’ is not listed here – it might be an option for some, but personally I’d rather go outside and melt in the heat than run on one of those things!)

 Do you have any tips to share?

Runsploration!

One of the many great things about running is ‘runsploration’, ie exploring new places by running.

parkrun tourism is one part of runsploration. Sometimes it’s going to a place specifically for a parkrun, and sometimes it’s finding the nearest parkrun to where you happen to find yourself on a Saturday morning. Last weekend I was in Brisbane and I thought I’d give New Farm parkrun a go – it was reasonable walking distance (and easy running distance) from where I was staying, and it was on the mighty Brisbane River. The early start was a bit of a challenge but I could see why all the Queensland parkruns start at 7 (rather than the 8am I am used to) – even by 7 it was pretty warm!

The start of the beautiful New Farm parkrun!

I wasn’t sure exactly where the start was, so I allowed plenty of time. I ran there, just under 4km, and immediately regretted my decision not to wear insect repellent – I was plastered with small flying insects! On the way I stopped to check out the Powerhouse markets – at 6:30am they were a hive of activity! In Adelaide it would be rare to see many people on the streets at that time on a Saturday – most of them would probably be still in bed! No daylight saving in Queensland (meaning effectively an earlier sunrise) and the heat means that people tend to be out and about super early!

The bustling market at 6:30am!

The parkrun itself was nice – probably the largest one I’ve been to, with a crowd of just under 400. And they even had someone leading a group warmup!

The pre-parkrun aerobics class!

(I didn’t feel the need to partake, I had warmed up more than sufficiently on the way there!) The start was a bit congested and there were a few tight corners early on but it was a nice straightforward course along the river (in fact, it retraced part of the route I had taken to get there) with lots of friendly, encouraging marshals and a couple of high fives!

Hot, sweaty but scenic 🙂

On Sunday I got up at what can only be described as ‘arse o’clock’, partly to beat the heat, and partly because I had places to be, and snuck in a 20k long run. I was ‘meant’ to do 30k but I figured after 100k last weekend I could do a slightly shorter one. It was already pretty warm by the time I started at 5:40 and by the time I finished it was as if I’d been in the shower fully clothed! I ran the familiar course along the river but a little further this time, and broke it up with a double crossing of the famous Story Bridge. 

Early on in my long runsploration in Brisbane. Dripping with sweat already!

So I managed to see a bit more of Brisbane than I otherwise might have, and at the same time got a few runs in!
I’ve done a bit of runsploration elsewhere. In London I did my last few runs before the Liverpool Marathon, although they were super slow and convoluted owing to the frequent photo stops (which I guess are par for the course when it comes to runsploration!) 


One of many photo stops on my runsploration of London!

When in Sydney for a conference a few years back, as well as managing a sneaky parkrun in my old neighbourhood, I managed a couple of morning runs that crossed the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge (unlike the Story Bridge though, the Sydney Harbour Bridge only allows pedestrians on one side – the other side is for cyclists).

The sights of my Sydney runsploration – and the obligatory post-run coffee!

In a few months I will be runsploring my way across the USA! Among other things, I plan to sneak in a run in Central Park in New York, some trails in Portland, and another bridge crossing, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fran (last time in San Fran I cycled across the Golden Gate so it will be cool to be able to run it too!) Obviously the Boston Marathon will take me to parts of the city that I might not otherwise have seen and I hope I am able to take a lot of it in!
And if things go to plan I’ll sneak in a parkrun – my first one outside Australia – in Washington D.C!

Where have you runsplored? And where would you LIKE to runsplore?

Race report – 2017 SA 100km championships

My Garmin data. I think the elevation is wrong!

Here we go again – around and around and around! And around. And how appropriate that this is also my 100th blog post! 

Last year I ran in the inaugural Yumigo 100km state championships. You can read all about it here.

I remember distinctly, immediately after the race, when race director Ben announced that it would be run again this year, fellow competitor Karen and I looked at each other and said “Never again!” (I was reminded twice of this in the past few days – by my mum and by friend Maree). And yet, here we were again!

After a 30k long run the previous Saturday which was very evenly paced, I had 2 runs during the week, both slower than usual – perfect preparation for a 100k ultra! I did go out and run a parkrun with Mum on Saturday morning but there was a fair bit of walking.

Nutrition-wise I went with 3 sandwiches (some peanut butter and some coconut spread – it’s always good to have a bit of variety because you never know what you’re going to feel like eating!), some almonds, 3 nut bars and some mashed sweet potato with a little salt. In the process of peeling the sweet potato with my awesome Y-peeler I discovered that the peeler is also very good at peeling human flesh! 

Last year I’d made up a big container of Gatorade but I remembered it was a bit of a hassle pouring it into the cup. This year I decided to fill up 6 bottles which I could then pick up and run with.

As per last year, I had lunch for breakfast, dinner for lunch and breakfast for dinner! Breakfast was peanut butter on toast, lunch was sweet potato mac and “cheese” (recipe here) and dinner was a smoothie. 

Carbing up like a BOSS!

I had a few hours’ nap in the afternoon as I was going to be running all through the night.

Gear-wise I had my usual Skins shorts with my black lulu skirt over the top. I went with blue calf sleeves, a pair of road shoes (the same ones I normally wear but half a size bigger to minimise blisters) and my Steigen socks (guaranteed blister-proof!). I started with a (newish) Mekong top, it was a Yumigo one which seemed appropriate given it was a Yumigo event! I thought it was pretty safe though, even though I’d only run in it once before – in this kind of event there’s always the opportunity to change tops if it isn’t comfortable.  

I packed a few extra singlets, some arm warmers and a long sleeved top in case it got cold during the night – although that didn’t look likely.

We started at 7, an hour earlier than last year, so it was pretty warm when we started. I think someone said it was 29 degrees at the start and still quite sunny. Consequently I started the race with a hat and sunnies, and with sunscreen on, but the good thing was that I would not need to reapply the sunscreen!

Another piece of good news was the change in the toilet arrangements. Last year we had used the toilets in the grandstand. Nothing wrong with that apart from the fact the it involved walking up stairs! This year they were at ground level which cut out all unnecessary elevation! (Although, by the time I kind of needed to go, I was worried I might get lost so I didn’t end up going! It would have broken my momentum anyway)

There were 12 starters in the 100k and I think 15 in the 50k. This year, the 100k and 50k runners were separated – we had lanes 1-3 and they had lanes 4-6. While last year the 50k runners had done 125 laps, this year the number of laps was calculated based on the slightly longer length of lap in lane 4, and consequently they started at a different point on the track (but at the same time) so they would still finish on the finish line. There were only 3 women in the 100k which meant that we only needed to finish to get a podium position!

The 100k starters!

ONLY needed to finish – I probably shouldn’t use the word ‘only’ there. Last year, out of 12 starters, there were only 5 finishers. 2 more runners ran for the full 12 hours but did not manage to complete the 100k, and possibly some of the ones who dropped out, did so because they knew they wouldn’t make the time cutoff. The last official finisher was averaging 7:10 min/km and only JUST made it. Compare that to trail events of the same distance like UTA100 (28 hours) and Heysen 105 (25 hours). Sure, those events are COMPLETELY different, with lots of elevation, but running 100km on a flat track is not necessarily easier!

There were a few things happening to break up the monotony (I use the term ‘monotony’ in the nicest possible way) – every hour or so the whiteboard near the start/finish line was updated to show each runner’s current lap count, and every 3 hours we got to turn around! I did very much look forward to that, although it did feel quite weird running anticlockwise!

One of the hourly updates!

My strategy was simple. Run 30 minutes, walk 5 minutes. It was the same strategy I’d started with last year, but over the course of the night the “run” sections became shorter and shorter, but I never allowed myself to walk for more than 5 minutes at a time. Last year I’d put an alert on my watch to remind me every time it was time to walk (or start running again) but this quickly drained the battery, and I knew that watch wouldn’t last the distance anyway, plus once I’d changed the run/walk intervals, the watch alerts were useless. So I decided to keep track of it in my head!

As there were only 12 runners in the 100k, I got to interact a bit with all of them – either as I passed them, or as they lapped me with monotonous regularity! I was running with one of the 100k runners, Stephan, at (I think) around the 5 hour mark and was surprised when he told me he hadn’t walked at all up to that point! I guess the run/walk strategy isn’t for everyone, but it certainly works for me over this distance. Even the super fast runners were walking at times (eventual 100k winner David T and 2nd placegetter in the 50k Simon).

I managed to keep the 30/5 intervals going until 3½ hours, which seemed like a logical point to change to 25/5 – much easier to keep track! It worked out well with the stadium clock too, because the race had started at 7:05, so the idea was that on the half hour and on the hour (by the clock), I would walk for 5 minutes. During the walk breaks I would take in nutrition and grab one of my drink bottles. Over the course of the night I only had one lot of sweet potato – maybe about ¼ cup or maybe even less than that – and didn’t fancy it after that. I didn’t touch the almonds, I just existed on sandwiches, nut bars, Gatorade and Coke.

When walking, I started walking on the line between Lane 1 and Lane 2. I got the idea from Kaven, one of the 100k runners who was walking a fair bit and eventually pulled out due to injury – it meant that the faster runners could pass on the left, thereby running the shortest possible distance. At walking pace, it wouldn’t make much difference to the distance I would cover. When running, I’d stay as close to the inside of the track as possible – so when I went from ‘walk’ to ‘run’ I’d drift back across to the inside (after checking of course that DT wasn’t about to fly past me – he was a man on a mission!

The singing started early this year, and surprisingly it wasn’t me who started it! And Michelle, who had started it last year, wasn’t running this year. She was volunteering and was there at the start but didn’t stay the whole night. And I wondered why it seemed quiet! This time it was Karen who started the singing – she had her iPod going within the first hour I think! I was saving mine for after the halfway point (after the 6 hour turnaround) – I didn’t want to get too reliant on it, and it would be later in the night, as 50k and some of the faster 100k runners finished, that it would be needed – less people out on the track to chat to, and less spectators!

As there were only 3 women in the 100k race, and Karen had already said she didn’t think she had a hope of reaching the 100k, and Bec wasn’t confident at all either, I expected I would probably be mainly ‘competing’ with myself, although I wouldn’t count Bec out – she had won the 12 hour race in July and had cracked the 100km on that day. I was confident I would make the distance, I wasn’t expecting to beat last year’s time of 10:43:14 but hoped to do something similar. Anything under 11 hours would be good!

I’m not sure exactly what point it was, but I think it was somewhere around 3 hours, I passed Bec and she said she was already up to run 1 lap/walk 1 lap so at that point she knew 100k was not going to happen – but she was determined to keep going for the 12 hours regardless! So effectively that meant that, out of the females, it was only me left!

Probably around the same time, the pizzas arrived – Ben as always had looked after the vegans by ordering a vegan pizza as well as a vegetarian one and one with meat on it. There were a few of us vegans out there, Simon, Sheena and Alan in the 50k and as far as I know just me in the 100k. I’m not going to say that the 50k vegans ate all the pizza, but suffice to say that when I finished there was no vegan pizza left! (Note to self for next time – ask for a slice to be put aside for me – I don’t like eating hot food during a race, and I’m happy to eat it cold afterwards!)

Team Vegan. Who ate all the pizza?

Even though there was a bit of physical separation between us this year, it was still great to have the 50k runners out there! I went back and forth with Graham for a while – he kept commenting on how my laps were shorter (which of course they were) whenever I passed him! Graham was the first person to tell me about running around in circles for a ridiculously long period of time (he was referring to the 24 hour race at the Uni Loop, and I recall telling him that sounded incredibly boring!) so I guess he’s to blame for all of this!

From the 4 hour mark, the 50k runners started approaching the end of their race, the track getting quieter and quieter with each finisher! The first male finisher was Randell in just over 4 hours – absolutely phenomenal! Not far behind him in second place was Simon who had also finished second last year. Brenton was third in under 5 hours.

The female winner in the 50k was Estha, followed by Debbie and Sheena. As each of the runners approached the end of their race, Ben announced over the PA system that they were on their final lap – it was really great to see everyone finishing even though we knew the finish was a LOOONG way off for us! It was a welcome distraction and very motivating!

The male 50k podium – Simon, Randell and Brenton, with Ben

The top 3 women in the 50km – Debbie, Estha and Sheena!

There were many visitors throughout the night – I won’t be able to mention them all, and there are probably some who were there and I didn’t even realise it! I will just mention a few but all the support from everyone was much appreciated!

First there was Liz who was there probably around the 4-5 hour mark and told me to run more upright as I was tending to lean forward (of course I didn’t realise it, but as soon as I corrected my posture it instantly felt better!). As it’s pretty impossible to be thinking about posture constantly for 250 laps, she suggested that I think about it every time I crossed the finish line. And you know what? I think that really helped! Not long after that, Scuba arrived to cheer us on for a while and i do believe he said he’s going to join in the fun next year! Then, probably around midnightish, Tracie popped in on her way home from a night out (oh yeah that’s right. It was Saturday night. That’s what NORMAL people do on a Saturday night!) and stayed for an hour or so? Maybe more? It’s hard to keep track of time! She sat in my chair and got me stuff out of my esky as I asked for it. So this is what it’s like having a support crew! Actually I managed pretty well on my own – it’s the type of event that is quite easy without a crew – but it was nice to have the support for that time!

Not long after Tracie left, the next turnaround marked the halfway point, time-wise anyway. At this stage I was on 58km so a finish within the cutoff time was looking comfortable. Although, I was somewhat slower than last year when I sat on 6 minute kilometre pace until about 65km. This time, by the 4 hour mark I had just fallen off 6 minute pace. Still, it was considerably hotter than last year, and I’d also managed to keep the 25/5 intervals going. And I was only marginally off pace so I wasn’t concerned.

This was also the point where I got the iPod out. I had planned to sing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” when we turned around (“Turn around…” – seemed appropriate!) but forgot! (Pretty sure that song did eventually come on!) I think from memory the first song was “We Like To Party” by the Vengaboys!

Throughout the rest of the night I had the iPod on and off – the earbuds kept falling out so it was a bit annoying – must get some decent ones for next year (YES I did just say ‘next year’!). I had difficulty hitting the high notes when running (probably not surprisingly!) but I think the highlight for me was when Mariah Carey’s ‘Hero’ came on. That, very conveniently, coincided with a walk break, so I was able to give it a good crack! I thought the lyrics were pretty apt too! Hope everyone enjoyed it!

I tried to limit the loud singing to when I was on the straight in front of the grandstand, where all the spectators and supporters were. I thought they would probably appreciate it more than the other runners, and of course I had to conserve some air for breathing! Also I had to pick my battles – for example, Beyoncé’s ‘Single Ladies’ is a great song to listen to and dance to but VERY hard to sing especially while running!

The music had added benefits too. My playlist has about 900 songs, for every occasion, so I found myself skipping through the songs until I found one that was appropriate at the time. It either needed to be something I could sing along to, or something that was the right tempo to suit my running. Surprisingly, the song that best fit the bill tempo-wise was “Umbrella” by Rihanna (I wasn’t tempted to sing that one!) and in fact it worked so well that I listened to it twice back to back! (Probably not a good long-term strategy though – I couldn’t imagine listening to one song for 10+ hours straight! Especially not that one!)

At the 7 hour mark I had 2 Voltaren (I know – anti-inflammatories – bad – but I’d done the same last year and it had worked well!) and an energy drink.

From about the 2 hour mark onwards, I was mostly 3 laps behind Toby, who was in 2nd place overall behind DT. At one point I had closed the gap to 2 laps, and at one point it had blown out to 4 laps, but 3 laps seemed to be the order of the night! I thought at one stage I might be able to catch up a lap or two or even get ahead of him, but he just seemed to get stronger as the night went on and although I was running well, I wasn’t able to make up any ground!

Karen and Bec were still going and in good spirits. At one point Bec went FLYING past me and soon after that, was walking again. This would have been at least 8 hours in – she joked that she was doing interval training! She said that was the only way she could run, and she would cover more ground this way than by just walking!

Around 8 hours 42 the first of the 100k runners, DT, finished! I think it was a tough day at the office for him, and as I said he was walking at times, but it was still a phenomenal performance! As I passed other runners, or as they passed me, I’d mostly call out encouragement (if I didn’t it was because I was concentrating on breathing or possibly singing!) but David looked so focused most of the time I stopped calling out to him! Plus he passed me so many times I would have used up all my energy!

Probably around the same time I cracked the 80km barrier (just goes to show how good DT is!) and that meant I had ‘only’ 50 laps left. I didn’t want to count laps and I had consciously avoided thinking in those terms, but I did get caught up in counting for a few laps after this!

These type of events result in notoriously inaccurate GPS recordings. Last year my Garmin showed I’d done over 102km. So, while initially I was going by my watch to work out how far I’d gone, I realised that I could only really rely on the hourly whiteboard updates, and if there was anyone standing by the computer as I went past the start/finish, I could ask them for an up-to-date lap count. I preferred not to know the exact laps though – all that mattered was, I would DEFINITELY know when I was on my last lap! I worked out that my Garmin was about 2km out so I used that as a rough estimate.

Then there was a quiet period, broken up by Cathie finishing her 50k with an unbelievable sprint finish!

At the 10 hour mark I was on 232 laps – still 3 behind Toby! And most pleasingly, while by the end of last year’s event I was down to 7 min/3 min walk/run intervals, I had managed to keep the 25/5 intervals going right from the 3.5 hour mark to the 10 hour mark!

So, with 18 laps to go (7.2km) I decided that by the time I got to my next scheduled walk break, I would be so close to the end I would be best to just keep going – and so I did! No more walk breaks!

That last 45 minutes went pretty quickly! I knew Toby would still be 3 laps ahead of me so I was just hanging out for his last lap to be announced! Then, I would be only just over 1km away from being done!

Still with my iPod in, Adam, who was in charge of the timing, informed me that I had 5 laps to go! I said, “5 laps? That, I can do!” and set to work getting it done! I left my iPod on my chair, and got down to business!

That last 5 laps was a bit of a blur! First, I got to watch Toby finish (I moved onto the line so he could pass on my inside – I’m sure he wouldn’t have wanted to go around me when he was so close to the end!) and then it was nearly time for me!

With 2 laps to go, Ben (maybe joking, maybe serious, who knew?) called for one last song! So as I ran around for my penultimate lap, I racked my brains trying to think of something appropriate, and something I could sing without the iPod! I was going to go with Michael Jackson’s ‘Ben’ but I wasn’t confident of hitting the high notes so I ended up going with ‘We Are The Champions’! (And failed to hit the high notes!)

That final lap!

I had a look at my split times for each of the 250 laps and even made a graph of it (OK yes I am a nerd!) and the last lap was around 1:50 (4:33 minutes/km pace) – by far my fastest lap of the night! It’s amazing what you can do when you can see that glorious finish line (even though I’d already seen it 249 times, it was different this time!)

My EXTREMELY nerdy chart showing every one of my 250 lap splits!

I crossed the line in 10:44:51 – just marginally slower than last year (under 2 minutes) but I was in a much better state at the end and I was so pleased with my consistency!

 

That finishing feeling!
Some well-earned bling right there!

First order of business – shoes OFF! As I walked past Toby who already had his shoes off, he said he’d been thinking about taking them off since the start of the race! I had said to first aider Susan as I ran past her late in the race that I didn’t think I had any blisters (unlike last year) so I wasn’t expecting any nasty surprises! My feet looked surprisingly not terrible for having just done 100km ( I won’t say ‘good’ – as they never look ‘good’!). I went back to the start line to see David B, 3rd placed male and the last of the 100km finishers, complete his race. I didn’t realise he was so close, he was only about as far behind me as I was behind Toby. He told me afterwards that he thought he would catch me!

With Ben at the trophy presentation!

With 3rd placegetter David B and 2nd placegetter Toby, and Ben. DT was long gone by the time we all finished! 🙂

Then it was time to change into some warmer clothes and eat the rest of my food! As it turned out I only ate 2 sandwiches and 3 nut bars (plus that little bit of sweet potato) throughout the race so that left me a whole sandwich to eat while I waited for the end of the 12 hours. The only 3 runners left were Karen, Bec and Stephan, who didn’t quite make the distance but did keep going for the full 12 hours.

I chatted with 2 of the other 100k runners who had pulled the pin early but were still at the stadium – Quinten and Alan. They had run together the whole way but were thrown by a big inaccuracy in the Garmin – their watches were showing they were on 56km when they were in fact only at 50! And that being at the 6 hour mark, it would have been an uphill battle to finish under cutoff time (I imagine it would be VERY difficult to negative-split a 100km ultra!). I saw them a number of times as we went around, and despite not getting the result they would have wanted, they said that they did enjoy it!

And before too long, the air horn was sounded to signify the end of the event. Karen, Bec and Stephan were all still standing at the end! Bec said “Never again” (or words to that effect) and Karen said “maybe the 50k”. I said nothing!

As is now ‘traditional’, Karen and I then went to her gym for a lovely hot spa, interspersed with a dip in the plunge pool, and finishing (as recommended by first aider Susan) with the cold plunge pool!

Bliss!
Aaand… not so much! But we were both glad we did it!

Sunday night I slept in my compression pants despite it being a pretty hot night, and on Monday my legs felt surprisingly OK!

So, that just about wraps up another fantastic event! But I can’t end without thanking some people.

Firstly to the supporters, it was great to see you out there especially through the night – I gather it was pretty chilly standing around, as many of you were wrapped in blankets! I can imagine it might be a bit boring watching people run and walk around in circles, so thanks for being there!

To my fellow competitors, thanks for all the support and encouragement out there, and for putting up with my singing! Well done to all of you, whether the night went to plan for you or not. Just turning up to run 50k or 100k on a track on a Saturday night is worthy of kudos!

To Adam for the awesome job on the timing, and to Susan and the First In Sport First Aid team who are always there and always appreciated, especially when their services are NOT required!

Now to the volunteers. I know I’m going to forget someone so please don’t be offended – there were so many of you, and probably some through the night that I didn’t even see! First those who were there from start to finish – Kelly, Kim, Tanya and the ever-present, ever-helpful and ever-encouraging Ziad (although I didn’t need any of his help, it was good to know that he was there if I needed anything!). And others who were there at different times – Kate, Michelle, Tracey at the beginning, Katie at some stage during the night, and Anna and Laura at the end (who also had the unenviable job of helping pack everything up at the end, while I sat there with my feet up and watched!)

And last but not least to Ben, who I am convinced must have cloned himself to be able to do all the things he does to put on these fantastic events (either that or he doesn’t require sleep!) Once again, another Yumigo triumph – a very professionally organised and (I can’t believe I’m about to say this) highly enjoyable event! Thanks Ben for all you do and good luck for your next big event!

Aaaaaand I guess I’ll be back next year!

Good times!

I got 99 problems, but this blog ain’t one

I don’t really have 99 problems. Poetic licence.

OK, I have a couple. Lack of focus and lack of funds to pay for my activewear and running event addiction. But really, all things considered, I have very little to complain about!

Why this random, midweek blog post, you ask? (You’re probably not asking. But I’ll tell you anyway)

This is my 99th blog post! (Now it kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?)

This Saturday night I’m running in a 100km ultra. So it seemed appropriate that my race report, planned for next Monday, would be my 100th post! So hence I threw this one together to make that happen (I liken it to running up and down the carpark at the end of a run to even up the kilometres).

100km is kind of a big deal, but we’ll get to that later.

What’s more important right now is, 99 blog posts!

I hate to think of how many hours it has taken to write all 99 posts. The UTA report, alone, took around 8 hours solid writing.

I used to love writing when I was a kid. Journalism was on my list of preferences for university, but I did get my first preference of Physiotherapy, so I never went down that path.

Since uni days, I hadn’t really done a lot of writing.

In 2014 I ran my first marathon, in Liverpool (UK). It was a fantastic experience and I can remember a few things about it, but I don’t have a detailed memory of it, which I now regret. (Maybe it was the 2 weeks of partying in Ireland after the marathon that made the memory slightly hazy, but I think it’s just time! And a lot has happened since then!)

dscn0263
Ready to go for marathon #1!
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And just a few hours later, marathon cherry popped!

I remember that I had pizza and cider for dinner the night before (which is now my pre-marathon staple meal) and that a lot of the spectators commented on my arm warmers (it was the first time I’d ever worn them and they have since become part of my ‘trademark’ if you will). But beyond that, the details now elude me!

liverpool1
For example, I don’t remember doing this…
liverpool2
…and even this is a bit hazy!

Fast forward exactly 1 year to marathon #2, Barossa 2015. I didn’t remember a lot of details about marathon #1 by then, such as that all-important list of “what I will do differently next time”. It didn’t matter, as it turned out – I managed to run a PB by around 3 minutes. But I was determined to make sure I remembered this one.

So, the following day, I wrote a race report which I posted on my Facebook profile. It was quite long, and quite hastily written, but I was surprised and pleased with all the positive feedback I got. And it wasn’t limited to my friends either – at my first trail race the following week, a few people I hadn’t even met before commented on how much they’d enjoyed reading it.

I thought, why not share the joy with the world?

And so, randomthoughtsandracereports was born!

The bulk of my posts have been running-related – many race reports, many about specific topics around running – and there have been a few recipe posts, when I’ve had time to get into the kitchen in between running!

I’m always amazed when I go somewhere and have a stranger tell me they enjoy reading my blog!

The key benefits as far as I’m concerned are:

1) To share my experiences with the running community – not that I am an expert by any means but I like to think I have something to contribute.

2) To keep my mind active by getting back into writing again – who knows, there might be a future career there somewhere?

3) To keep a record of races I’ve done, so when I go back to do it again, I can remember those “things I’ll do differently next time” at a level of detail I could not possibly remember.

Some weeks the blog writes itself. Sometimes I have to search for inspiration, but I’m never lost for words!

Thanks for coming along for the ride!

And… onward to blog post #100!

Trying to find focus!

Coming down from the post-Thredbo high and back to reality this past week, it’s time to start doing some proper marathon training.

I did my first long run of the programme on New Year’s Day and hadn’t done a proper long run since (although I don’t think all the running and hiking I did in the mountains would have done me any harm).

I was supposedly 4 weeks into a 16 week programme (12 weeks to go!) with only one long run of 21.1km under my belt.

On top of that, I was only a week away from a 100km ultra, and waaaay underdone in terms of training mileage. (On the plus side, I had successfully completed the corresponding event last year on pretty much the same training.)

We are really spoiled for choice here in Adelaide when it comes to running events and social runs. No wonder I have trouble focusing on one event!

For example, this past weekend I had the choices of (among others):

  • A 14k hilly trail run in Cleland (very close to home)
  • A 30k (with shorter options available) trail run along the Heysen trail, from the Heysen 105 finish line, into the Adelaide Hills – a section I’d never run or walked before 
  • A 21.1k run at the Snakepit. That one needs a little more explanation. The Snakepit is a soft sand, undulating, running track of around 500m. A 21.1k would be approximately 45 laps. My previous longest run there was 11 laps. There were about 8 people doing the run on Saturday night.

I really enjoy the trail runs – the scenery is usually beautiful, you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere even when you’re actually very close to the city, and they are normally very social outings.

BUT – focus!

My ‘main’ event this year is the Boston Marathon, so I really need to focus on that. Not to mention the ultra that’s only a week away!

That’s not to say I won’t be doing other events this year. Here is a rough list of what I plan to do this year:

It’s quite a list – and since I made it, I have entered the Dolphin Run and the Semaphore Coastal half.

So I decided to do ‘none of the above’.
Given that Sunday was forecast to be hot, I thought a Saturday run was a good plan. I like getting my long runs out of the way on Saturdays and doing them on my own. That way I run at my pace and then I have Sunday free. I don’t especially enjoy long road runs  (I’d much rather be out on the trails) but for marathon training there’s really no avoiding them! Also, with the ultra being on Saturday night, I’d have a full week to recover. (I won’t say taper – I think you actually have to train properly to be able to taper!) And, given that I’d be on my own for much of the ultra, it was a good opportunity to get used to my own company (and that of Dr Karl, whose podcasts I would listen to in order to distract myself!)

So here’s what I decided to do. First I planned to do a 3 hour run, from 5-8pm, starting and finishing at the Snakepit, where the half marathon was starting at 8. I’d run for 90 minutes along the coast (my favourite place for long runs), then turn around and head back. Then I would stay for an hour or so and cheer on the crazy people doing the half!

For the first few kilometres (running into a headwind), I was averaging about 5:35 minutes per km. I didn’t know the exact distance I would cover in 3 hours at that pace, but I knew it would be 32+ kilometres. I decided that was probably too much for only my second long run and only 4 weeks in, so instead I decided to turn around at 15km and make it an even 30.

Beautiful Grange, near the halfway point of my run.

I ran from the Snakepit to West Beach into the wind, then turned around and headed back, hoping it would suddenly become easy, but of course with fatigue in the legs my pace didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Still, by the time I got back to the car, I had managed to maintain a pretty consistent pace throughout, which was pleasing.

The view at the end of my run!

And then it was time to sit back and relax and watch people run round and round! I guess in hindsight running it would have been good mental training for next Saturday’s 250 laps, but the toll it would have taken on my legs would have far outweighed any benefits!

How was your Saturday night?

I must admit sometimes it’s hard to watch people run when I’m not running. On this occasion I had absolutely NO ‘runvy’! Alice and I were the cheer squad for the runners, and while Alice made herself useful taking photos and getting drinks/snacks for the runners, I played DJ and cranked some tunes to keep everyone motivated, while alternating between putting my feet up, dancing, and finding novel new uses for the gym equipment!

With chief support crew Alice!
Chief instigators Scuba and Chantal sharing a stretch break after 13km!

On Sunday I went and had coffee at Mt Lofty with some of the Cleland group and I really wished I could have run (although I did enjoy the sleep in!) but once again FOCUS! Right now, marathon training is where it’s at, and after Boston I will be all over those trails! Until then I’d better suck it up and hit the road!
I managed just under 70km this week including a reasonably fast parkrun (with a slow start due to the record number of people in attendance) and my first speed session in 3 weeks. I think I’m back on track!

(Unsuccessfully) trying to blend in and be serious at parkrun.

Speaking of which, the track is where I will be next Saturday night and the subject of next week’s blog post!

This. This is what it’s all about. Until next weekend and then it will be all about BOSTON!

Thredbo Fun and Fitness Week Part 2

This is the second part of my review of Thredbo Fun and Fitness Week (TFFW) – for part 1, see here.

Tuesday started with a group of us doing the now traditional early morning Crackenback climb – we would normally leave at 7:30 to allow a generous 1 hour to complete the ascent and time it with the first chairlift down. From there we went back to the lodge to grab a quick bite to eat before heading down to the village for the start of the Alpine Adventure. This is a fun, all inclusive, family-friendly and über competitive team activity which involves collecting points by finding clues around the village. Most of the people from our lodge were taking part and as one of the last to sign up, I was paired with Jeff, who told me that no-one had ever agreed to team up with him a second time! Despite this I found it really fun, especially knowing we had NO chance of winning. He is also a veteran of many TFFWs so had the advantage of knowing his way around the village. I think we managed to accumulate 180 points in our allocated 40 minutes, slightly behind the winners who were well over 400! Oh and there may or may not have been some ‘cooperation’ with other teams including John (aka ‘Speedo Man’ due to his unusual, very distinctive attire during every event in TFFW!) and his wife Jackie. The Armstrong family put on a fantastic event, very well organised and prizes for everyone in the barrel draw despite a huge crowd of over 100 teams!

Given the pretty good weather, a few of us decided to head up to Mt Kosciuszko, the highest mountain in Australia. It is actually a pretty easy climb, considering that the elevation is only about 300m above the top of the chairlift. Certainly a MUCH easier climb than Crackenback!

As we walked across the metal walkway with which we would become VERY familiar by the end of the week, we noticed that there seemed to be a lot of snow up on the higher mountains. Last year I’d seen one small patch of snow but this time there was a lot more than that!

And sure enough, when we got closer, we realised that there was a large patch of snow just next to the walking track! And of course we couldn’t resist playing in it!

This can’t be real, can it? Snow in summer?
Wheeeeeeeee!
Just a bunch of kids from a city that never gets snow!

It was pretty windy and misty on the walk up, and when we reached the summit we couldn’t see a thing, but unlike last year I did manage to stand up on the highest point in Australia!

On top of the world! (Well, Australia at least!)

We made it back to town in time to watch the Mile handicap and participate in the ‘Mile’ (actually 1km) fun run. The handicap race was good to watch, there were 16 runners who did 3 laps around the Village Green with the last one setting off a full lap after the first, and finishing 5th overall – I reckon if there had been another half a lap he would have crossed the line first!
The fun run was literally just a bit of fun but the main reason I got involved was for the barrel draw that follows every event in TFFW – and this one had some pretty great prizes including a lot of running gear and the prized TFFW mugs! Unfortunately I didn’t win anything this time but I’ll have to encourage more people from our lodge to enter next time!

On Wednesday I left at 7:30 to climb Crackenback. There wasn’t anyone with me, although I saw a figure in the distance that I assumed was Mandy, who has a tradition of doing it every morning. As it was the first time I’d done it on my own, I didn’t have anyone to follow and consequently took a rather ‘scenic’ route!

I don’t know exactly where I am at this point!

After a coffee I headed to the Village Green for the women’s Yacht handicap. The distance was 3.8km and I had estimated about 20 minutes, however when I saw Fiona, Christine and Sue all going off at 24 minutes, I decided it would be more fun to run with other people and take it a bit easier. Also I’m hopeless at judging time/pace without a watch! It was a lovely course, and I was tempted to take my phone out and take some photos, but I thought people might think I was cheating so I resisted the temptation! I did get somewhat distracted near the end and tripped on a tree root and fell over, thankfully in relatively soft dirt. In the end Fiona finished just in front of me, just 1 sec behind our estimated time (the winner guessed her time to the second) and jokingly said that if she hadn’t turned around to check I was OK after I fell, she would have won! 
The damage wasn’t too bad – a grazed knee with a fair bit of blood that I cleaned up back at the lodge, and a grazed elbow.

The SA ladies after the women’s run
Surveying the damage (and trying to protect my almost new calf sleeve from further bloodstains!)

A little later a group of us set out to run the Thredbo Valley Track to Lake Crackenback Resort, approximately 20km. Jeff was going to pick us up from the other end so thankfully we didn’t have to run back! The track is popular with walkers, runners and mountain bikes – we didn’t see many other runners but there were a lot of bikes – they were supposed to be giving way to foot traffic but I don’t think many of them got the memo!

The highlight for me was seeing my first echidna! A year to the day after seeing my first snake! Needless to say the look on my face (and the words that came out of my mouth) were somewhat different on this occasion!

Soooo excited!

I ran with David and Geoff for most of the run but after the second campsite I decided to take off and just run! It was exhilarating, it is mostly downhill and running down the mountain bike switchbacks was so fun! There were a few points where I had trouble seeing which way to go and I had to ask for directions a few times but I made it to Lake Crackenback! I would have given the $20 I had on me for a cold Coke but the first place I found was closed – eventually I found the place and David arrived not long after me, followed by the rest of the group. I ended up having 2 Cokes because the first one didn’t even touch the sides! Then Karen, Geoff and I dipped our feet in the lake to cool off before heading back to Thredbo.

Serenity…

Later that afternoon I noticed my right ankle was a bit swollen, and locally quite tender, so I assumed I must have sprained it when I fell during the morning run. I had noticed it tended to roll outwards  (not inwards like most people tend to roll their ankles) during the river run. While most of the people from our lodge went to the official TFFW dinner, a few of us had opted not to go, which gave me the opportunity to ice it and put it up to try to get rid of the swelling. And it appeared to work because by the morning it was fine.

Which was fortunate, because Thursday was the day we’d organised to do the Big Walk, approximately 30k from the top of the chairlift, along the metal walkway to Rawson’s Pass, and then in a big loop along the Main Range Track before going back along the metal walkway. Last year we had split into 2 groups and my group went anticlockwise. This time we decided to stay together and all went clockwise, although it wasn’t long before we split into 2 groups anyway, the front group walking way faster than we were interested in walking! We had allowed ample time (starting at 8:45 after catching the first chairlift, and needing to be back only for the last chair at 5) and so we had no interest in going fast. I was with Sue, who had done it many times before, and Christine and Fiona, both TFFW ‘virgins’.

But first – more snow play!
Karen attempting a snow angel. No idea what I’m doing!
Morning tea stop!
Crossing the river to our lunch spot.
Snowy River – also the start of Saturday’s Kosciuszko Classic – filling up with fresh water!

The weather was perfect. Sunny, not a cloud in the sky, and very little wind. We could only hope it would be like this for the Classic on Saturday!

It was also ideal weather for 2 of our less favourite creatures. The march flies were relentless, and appeared to scoff at even the most hardcore insect repellent. And of course it was also perfect snake weather. We saw one, just after morning tea, I got a good look at it as it slithered off into the bushes. It was black, similar to the one we’d seen last year but nowhere near as big. I actually was not expecting to see any snakes up there – thinking that as they don’t have legs they wouldn’t be able to get up that high! I mean, they’re not exactly riding the chairlift are they? At least I hope they’re not! That’s a comforting thought!

The most noteworthy part of the walk was seeing 3 kids, all in electric wheelchairs, trying to go down a steep and not particularly smooth path, with 2 adults that turned out to be their parents. We chatted to them for a while, they had come from the Central West, where it was very hot, to be somewhere a bit cooler. They all seemed to be enjoying it, but decided that going down the path was probably not a good idea as it would require quite a lot of manual assistance to get back up! It put things into perspective for me, whenever I think something is too hard I can think of that family and realise that it’s actually not hard at all!

Friday morning started with my stubbing my toe quite hard on the tiles at the bathroom door – ouch! Then it was time for the final Crackenback climb and was particularly memorable for being Daryl’s first – after watching us all head out day after day, he had finally been convinced by Karen to give it a go. Along with Geoff they got to the top in around an hour to rousing applause from Fiona, Marg and me at the top!

You can do iiiiit!!!

After a well earned coffee we headed back to the lodge to get ready for Eric’s run. This is a ‘veterans’ run (women over 35 and men over 40) which is always put on by the SA contingent. It was formerly run by Eric and May Fazackerley, and Eric, who I’d met last year, had been unable to make the journey to Thredbo this year but was definitely there in spirit and never far from anyone’s mind! I had offered to marshal but they had plenty of marshals so I ended up running. The marshals always dress up and this year it was a ‘Great Gatsby’ theme – they looked great!

The run itself is described as a ‘fun run, NOT a race’, with many hazards along the 3ish kilometre course including a nice new wombat hole! I ran with Fiona and Christine and there was actually a lot of walking too, especially up the stairs! It is a surprisingly tough course! As soon as I finished I put my hand up to marshal next year when we will lose one of our regular marshals – Ryan, who is TFFW royalty, not a South Australian but always marshals at our event, will be eligible to run it next year! So let me put it out there right now that I’m willing to take his spot!

Eric’s run.


Eric’s run.

The barrel draw was epic too – people were called back 3 times before all the prizes were gone! For once, the wine wasn’t the most popular prize – the distinctive purple SARRC Barossa Marathon tops that we had been wearing at the events all week, proved particularly popular!
We then went down to Eric and May’s bench by the river and a number of us got our shoes off and put our feet in (OMG! SO cold!) while we enjoyed sparkling wine (we polished off quite a few bottles!) and some nibbles. I really like this tradition! And even though Eric couldn’t be there in person, Dave, who organises our group every year, had arranged to call him from the river so we could all say hi.

Celebrating in style at the river!

That night we had our traditional party night at the lodge – we had invited a number of people but the torrential rain (which had very kindly held off during the day’s festivities) would have put a lot of people off venturing out. Still, we had a great time, with Fiona and me (also coincidentally the youngest 2 in the lodge) being the last left standing at midnight when the last guests Ryan and Lyn left. I’m not sure I would have danced anywhere near as much as I did, if I’d had to wear shoes!

Awake much earlier than I’d hoped, I watched Saturday dawn from my window and it looked like it was going to be beautiful – but looks can be deceiving, things can change very quickly, and the conditions in the village can be VERY different from those up the mountain.

Last year’s Kosciuszko Classic had been blessed with perfect weather. I think from memory there were 40-something entrants. Could we be so lucky again? Probably not. The Bureau was forecasting strong winds, but thankfully no rain.

First, we had to walk that metal walkway yet again. It was cold and windy – it was hard to even have a conversation with Fiona who was walking right next to me! We had some experienced TFFW’ers with us, who had advised us to take our time on the walk, firstly to conserve energy for the actual race, and secondly so we didn’t get to the start too early and have to stand for longer in the cold.

The long, cold, windy walk to Rawson’s!

We timed it perfectly. The official start was at 11am but there was an earlier option for people who were planning to walk/run. The walk/runners had just enough time for a toilet stop and to change into their race clothes, before they made the 3k trek down to the start at the Snowy River. I’d gone with my pink SARRC top, arm warmers, gloves, Skins shorts, green skirt purchased from an op shop on the drive up from Adelaide, and pink calf sleeves. I’d also worn my new pink hat and had a buff over the top of it to keep it blowing off!

A lot of people were wearing long sleeves and tights but I didn’t feel underdressed when I saw that John (Speedo Man) was wearing shoes, socks, gloves and Speedos. And that’s all! (Last year he also wore a T-shirt, and it was a lot warmer that day!)

There were just 12 people setting off at 11am and 6 of those were from SA – Geoff, David and me from our lodge, and 3 generations of the Sandery family – patriarch and SA running royalty Peter, son Rhys and Rhys’ son Fin. Peter was doing his 30th Classic and Fin his first – they also became the first family to have 3 generations running the Classic together! They were all running in their distinctive red and white Adelaide Harriers tops which looked great but not quite as great as my pink SARRC one!

Next came the easy 3k trot down to the start. (Remember how I stubbed my toe? Well it turns out that made running downhill kind of difficult. Fortunately it had no such effect on my ability to run UPHILL.) We jogged down to the river, where almost all the runners then made a pitstop in the bushes. I wished I could have been bothered getting my phone out to take a photo – it would have been quite comical! I jokingly said to Phoebe, the only other girl in the group, “Do you feel left out?” I decided to start a new pre-race tradition – walking down to the edge of the river to splash some cold river water on my face. Mostly to wake myself up!

I had my light spray jacket on me, at Rhys’ suggestion, to keep the wind out. By the time we got to the start the conditions were actually quite pleasant so I tied it round my waist.

The 11am start group at the Snowy River – photo courtesy of Justin Lalor.

At 11am on the dot we set off for the approximately 4.8km run up to the summit. I knew all the other women in the race were walk/running (they were all from our lodge – I think there were only 24 entrants in total) so I pretty much knew if I could run most of the way I could be guaranteed a placing. And Phoebe looked like a proper runner and set off well ahead of me so I was happy to settle for 2nd place!

After about 1km or so I was warm enough that I didn’t need the gloves anymore, so I took them off in preparation for throwing them at the pile of bags we’d left at Rawson’s. I was tempted to ditch my spray jacket too but I knew that would probably blow away!

I ran most of the way just behind Phoebe and with Speedo Man and another guy Trevor who had finished just ahead of me last year. At times we were running straight into the wind and seemingly going backwards. It didn’t ever really seem to offer any assistance!

There was a moment when I thought I could get in front of Phoebe (well, I definitely could have, but whether or not I could have stayed there was a different question) but I decided to just keep her in sight. Eventually both Trevor and John went past me but they were never far in front. I had expected to pass some of the earlier starters but never did – in fact most of them were already on their way back down while I was still running up! It wasn’t the kind of day to be hanging around at the top of the mountain – you would get very cold very quickly!

I was tempted to walk at one point but I knew I was so close and plus I didn’t want our team photographers Harry and John to catch me walking!

I could see Phoebe tantalisingly close but didn’t really have a sprint finish in me. Plus, if she’d heard me coming at her I’m sure she would have found an extra gear! In the end I finished 10 seconds behind her, 4 minutes slower than last year and I was satisfied with that.

The Strava elevation profile for the race.
With TFFW (and therefore also Kosciuszko Classic) virgins Christine and Fiona at the summit!

I waited at the top for the rest of the SA runners, Geoff, the 3 Sanderys and David, before a casual walk back down (and one last play in the snow!), layering up at Rawson’s and a nice cruisy walk back to Eagle’s Nest where most of the rest of the SARRC group were having lunch. There wasn’t time for me to get lunch though as the presentation was back in the village at 2pm. I got my first podium finish for an event at TFFW (2nd) – the trophy being one of the coveted TFFW mugs! That’s going straight to the pool room! Fiona ended up finishing 3rd and I won yet another bottle of wine in the barrel draw so it was a good day for our team all round! (And a good day for the stalwarts at Friday’s party with Ryan getting 3rd place for the men, just behind brother Chad!)

After that I decided it was time to take it up a notch. As part of our lift ticket we were entitled to 16 rides on the bobsled. I’d had a couple of rides and this was my last chance so I rode 3 times in a row, on the last one had a nice clear track in front of me so I decided to record it on my Garmin and see just how fast I could go! I did the 600m in 1:30 and got up to a top speed of just under 40km/hour!

So.

Much.

Fun.

I feel the need… the need for SPEED!

And that basically sums up the whole week. Just a brilliant time, in a beautiful setting, with awesome people.

See you again next year!