Race report – TRSA Sturt Gorge 

Last year, I volunteered at this event with Karen, it being 1 week after we’d done the Ultra-Trail Australia 100km. We’d both decided to wear Snow White costumes. Why, I hear you ask? To which I reply, have you met us?

Flashback to 12 months ago – Karen insisted on a pic with Kym, which she somewhat unkindly captioned ‘2 Snow Whites and the one dwarf’!

This year, given that I’m not doing UTA, I entered the race. So what if it was only 2 days after I arrived back in Australia? And so what if, aside from running in a forest in Portland a week and a half ago, I had not run a trail in well over 2 months?

There was a 6k, 12k and 20k. I entered the 12k, so I at least had some sense in me! After the trail run in Portland last week I realised I was going to be very underdone and would have dropped down to the 6k if there wasn’t a fee attached to the change!

I went into this race with zero expectations. Which meant I couldn’t really be disappointed, whatever happened!

Kit-wise I went with a new black lulu skirt (one of my overseas purchases) and my new pink argyle calf sleeves bought at the Boston expo, which I absolutely did not need but which were pretty and only $10!

They’re pink. I must have them!

Given that I was running the 12k, I figured my small race vest would be enough – 500ml of Gatorade should see me through, and there were a few drink stations along the way where I could refill them with water if needed.

I arrived at the start, at Blackwood Football Club, early enough to see the start of the 20k, which started at 8.

The 20k starters and a few of the awesome volunteers!
And they’re away!

It was chilly at the start but it was sunny and it was likely to be warmish out there. So I needed to factor in both arm warmers and sunscreen. 

I had originally chosen black and white arm warmers, then remembered I had pink and grey, so I threw both pairs in.

I asked Chantal which ones I should wear. Pink and grey was the winner. What was I thinking? Of course I should wear the pink!

I hadn’t studied the course. I rarely do. And as a ‘non-competitor’ in this race, I could comfortably rely on following the people in front. 

Pretty soon we were away – starting with a nice comfortable downhill. 

“IT’S A TRAP!” I thought to myself. As all trail runners know, “What goes down must come up!” (I certainly learned that at Boston!)

Near the start – I’m near the right in the pink hat. Photo courtesy of the Trail Running SA Facebook page.

It wasn’t long before we hit the first hill. And then I quickly remembered how not good at hills I am. (I remember, late in the race, someone behind me telling someone else “I’m great on downhills but I suck at uphills”. I was almost going to turn around and say “Me too! Except the bit about being great at downhills!”)

The course was quite technical. Which was actually good. There were multiple water crossings, and a bit of rock climbing in amongst the uphill slogs and the downhills! I found it easier than just running up hill – the variety was a good distraction, and it was kind of fun! (I didn’t see anyone fall into the water – I very much hoped I wouldn’t!)

Climbing over boulders is relatively easy for me, being blessed with long legs! Getting under low branches (along with finding a height-appropriate man!) is not so easy – thankfully I can only recall one ‘limbo’ that I had to do!

There was a guy behind me who had run the practice run last weekend and mentioned a few times that he’d got very lost! I had told him to let me know if he wanted to pass me, but after hearing that, jokingly told him I didn’t want him taking the lead! (In his defence, there were no course markings last week, and the trail at times was difficult to pick out!)

On the course marking, I have to say, this course was IMPECCABLY marked. As one who is, shall we say, ‘navigationally challenged’, I never felt like I was in danger of getting lost – thanks so much to the awesome volunteers who marked the course!

After around 6k I said “OK that’s enough for me!” – again cursing myself for not entering the 6k in the first place!

But of course we all know that’s not how it works. I entered the 12k, and I would run 12k (or thereabouts – the other thing we all know is that trail distances are approximate at best!)

From about 10k to 11k it was a hard slog – and the elevation profile backs that up! There was a lot of walking in that kilometre but I knew it was ‘nearly’ over. (Fellow parkrunner Alex had passed me at around the 7k mark, telling me there was ‘only a parkrun to go’ – which is a lot more encouraging with 5k to go in a marathon than it is with 5k to go in a 12k!)

The elevation profile makes interesting viewing!

There was a nice little bit of downhill towards the end. Even though there was a bit of up as well, I managed to keep running, albeit a slow plod, because I knew the end was (metaphorically) in sight. 

My normal rule when it comes to hills, is “Never run up a hill if you can’t see the end of it!” Meaning, I will run up a short steep hill (in fact, it’s usually easier to run it than walk it) but a long steady climb I will usually walk (and probably faster than I could run!)

Thanks to Chantal for this photo near the finish line!

Eventually I was at the finish line and ran under the arch – stopping the clock (figuratively) in a touch over 1 hr 25. 

The finish line was a welcome sight!

Although I had no expectations leading into the race, there were a lot of pleasing signs:

  • Under 90 minutes ✔ (not that I had a time goal, but I really did)
  • Didn’t fall over ✔
  • Didn’t die! ✔

One thing I will hopefully remember for next time is to wear my cycling gloves – that would have been handy (no pun intended) for climbing over boulders. Plus if I did fall over, I could save myself with my hands!

I then proceeded to chat with a lot of the fellow runners, who all wanted to know about Boston and my holiday (which I don’t think I will ever get sick of talking about) in between eating my body weight in vegan brownies (thanks again Maurice!)

For once I didn’t win any prizes in the random prize draw but I guess it’s only fair to give some other people a go!

This was yet another fantastic event from the wonderful people at Trail Running SA. Great course, perfectly marked, brilliant weather – what more could you ask! Congrats to all the runners, and of course once again the amazing volunteers need to be thanked for making it all possible!

I could not think of a better way to ease back into ‘normal life’ – out on the beautiful Adelaide trails with great friends!

Next event for me is the Barossa half marathon (2 hour pacer). And I have my outfit organised – getting pretty excited! (Now I have 2 weeks to make sure I can actually run 21.1 in 2 hours!)

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