Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hat trick of trail runs

Well, the August triple treat of trail events has been and gone and it was wonderful...

Bankstown Hidden Half 16th August

I enjoyed this run when I did it last year. This year was even better ! Once again the organization of the course was terrific, as was the friendly welcome and encouragement by the Westies club (I particularly appreciated "get your arse into gear slowmo !" from one of the race marshalls). The hills on this course were just as challenging as I'd remembered but I was pleased to be able to run them all this year.

The weather was perfect for running - cool and still for the whole event. We even had music, with a brass and drums band belting out some cool tunes through the morning, not to mention the race marshall with Chariots of Fire on his ghetto blaster.

The photo above and those below are courtesy of Gemma Clarke Photography.

Chatting to Rob, one of the race organizers, after the race

The band was a great touch. Hope more events follow suit !

Willy to Billy 35km Bushrun 22nd August

I'd had this race pencilled in to my calendar for a long time and had been looking forward to it with a mix of excitement (longest and most serious trail run so far) and out and out fear (same reason). The race turned out to be both harder but also so much better than I thought it would be.

Everything about this event was special. The freshly baked scones at the start lived up to their reputation and really hit the spot on a chilly mountain morning. The course was both challenging and beautiful - a mixture of forest roads and single file rocky trails with stunning views to be had at some points. But the best thing of all was the sense of this being a community event. Every time I reached one of the aid stations, the local bushfire brigade members and other volunteers there were fantastically welcoming and encouraging, and had water, sports drink and pieces of fruit laid on.

There were some big hills and some very big hills. There didn't really seem to be any other sort. By the time I got to the last climb, which went up for around 7km, I'd jettisoned any hope of walk-running it and settled for walk-puff-stagger.

A nice treat was that, for the first time ever, I wasn't the only huarache-wearing runner in an event. There were two of us ! On the left, in the photo above, is Daniel in his ultra-marathon ultra-laced huaraches; on the right, me with the trusty pair that I wore for all three of the races this month.

There was a great atmosphere during the run with lots of chats and greetings between runners. It was a particular pleasure to run some of the course with Bert and Anne (on the right in the photo above).

Very special for me was having my lovely partner there to cheer me on at several points along the course.

Sutherland Half-marathon, Royal National Park 29th August

The third event of August's triple treat, and wonderful one to finish with. You have to love a run with the very civilized starting time of 1pm, especially if you are as dysfunctional in the mornings as I am.

Despite a little rain in the morning we were treated to a sunny afternoon for the run. If anything, a little too sunny - after a few kilometres I found myself wishing that I was wearing a singlet instead of a black t-shirt.

Apart from a short loop at the start, most of the race involves an out and back run on Lady Carrington Drive and there are fewer nicer places to run with its mix of sun and shade, dry woodland and moist forest, and rolling terrain. I started the race with CoolRunning friend Crabby and managed to stay with her for about 3km or so - a new record I think. After that I settled into a pace that was still a bit faster than my normal chug, helped a lot by the company and steady pace of other runners. Despite slowing down a little bit in the part of the race, I managed to finish just inside two hours for the first time - very chuffed with that*.

Catching up with people after the race I had the pleasure of discovering that one of the other runners was someone who I had worked with on a National Parks project twenty years ago and hadn't seen since. I'd swapped posts with him on CoolRunning but didn't twig that we knew each other until then.

Many thanks to all the folk from the Sutherland District Athletics Club for a really enjoyable and friendly event.

*Since writing this post I got my official time and it was just outside two hours. Oh well... I'll just have to try again next year :-)

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