Saturday, 9 July 2011

Western States 100 Mile - 2011

Western States for me was an opportunity to compete in a trail running event that is rich in history which has, and continues to, attracted a lot of quality runners. I first read about WS in Dean Karnazes’ book ‘Ultramarathon Man’ which I read in the lead up to the Australian 2008 North Face event. The account of his first attempt made it sound like a truly epic event and something which I one day wanted to experience.

I first tried to enter into the 2010 Western States event but was unsuccessful in the lottery. I therefore didn’t have any high hopes when I again tried to get into the 2011 event, but was nicely surprised when my name was called out in the lottery. Being informed in early November that you had been accepted into an event held at the end of June seemed like a long time (which it is) but as I found out it wasn’t long enough.

The end of 2010 and beginning of 2011 was to be my busiest running schedule to date. I had GNW 100 mile in November, Mud Run in December, B2H in January, Cradle in February, Six Foot in March, Mt Solitary in April and TNF100 in May, plus a monthly 10km road race, which would be my lead in to WS. All was going to plan until I had an incident in a training run prior to Mt Solitary. What started as a bruise to the outside of my knee turned into a strained upper calf muscle which turned into an ITB injury. I still did Mt Solitary but knew that it was not looking good for WS, although it was still months away. My training went from over 100km a week to almost nothing for the week following Mt Solitary, to nothing in the following week to nothing for the week following that also. This went on for a while and at the same time I was becoming increasingly angry, frustrated, disappointed and worried. My goals and targets for TNF100 and WS were constantly being assessed. It go so bad that for a while I ceased to discuss any races for a while with Brian (my husband). Also to complicate matters, WS would be our first trip overseas and it was mostly organised and paid for. Plus my mother was joining us, and this only added to the pressure.

My decision to compete in TNF100 was finaly confirmed on the Friday morning before the event after just a 2km jog. This was a seriously tough decision for me to not start. It would be the first time I would have a DNS against my name. Although a lot of people gave me support by saying that the ‘A’ race was WS and that is what I should be focusing on, it was still really tough. For me it was also a lost opportunity to race against the girls from Team Salomon on a course which I know and love.

The six weeks between TNF100 and WS I stretched lots and did my exercises, but I was still facing the dilemma, ‘how do I train for 100 miles without running?’ On the Queen’s Birthday long weekend I managed to get my ITB injury under control and did legs 5 and 6 of GNW100m with Andrew Vize and Ian Gallagher. Darrel Robins joined us for leg 6. It was good to be back running and the company was a good distraction, but I know where my fitness level was, somewhere between the sole of my foot and the sole of my shoe. I pushed on and did leg 7 for a total of 70km, the longest run I had done since Cradle. I backed it up with 4 more runs spread over the following Sunday and Monday of the long weekend for a total of 140km. That had been my biggest period of running for months. That would be the last of my training as the following Thursday I flew out of Sydney for San Francisco.

San Fran was nice and proved to be a good distraction before WS. It allowed me to relax and enjoy some therapeutic shopping at outrageously cheap prices. On the way back from shopping we passed a park in Presidio which was advertising a Half-Marathon Trail Race the next day, still a week out from WS. It appealed to Brian so we checked it out on the web that night and decided to run it. The plan was to stick with Brian and pace (push) him and for me to take it easy. We arrived at the park located on the south side of the bay on a cloudless San Fran morning with the Golden Gate Bridge in its full glory. After paying the entry fee we lined up in the middle of the 160 odd starters. Not knowing the course we followed the procession of other to the first out and back section which was all flat and followed the walking trail east around the bay. I stayed with Brian as he counted the other girls heading back, 1, 2, 3…, “Beth your tenth, off you go”. It was tempting but this was not supposed to be a race. As we headed back towards where we had started the hills were looming and I could sense that Brian was pushing hard. He kept saying, “ ninth is there is blue, eighth is there in green and just ahead is seventh in red”, “come on Beth top 5 wouldn’t be pushing it, off you go.” When the hills started (7km) I dropped Brian and ran ahead under the Golden Gate and then south down along the Pacific Coast. The field was slow and it didn’t take much to knock the girls off. I was happy to finish and although I could ‘feel’ my leg it wasn’t hurting or causing discomfort. Brian got a P.B. so he was happy too.
Acclimatising at Emigrant Pass.
The Sunday before WS we drove out to Lake Tahoe, which would be our base in the lead up to the event. This is when I first started to focus seriously on the event. It was also when I started to have those prerace nerves; will I have problems at altitude, how should I run in snow, what should I take, will the heat affect me, will I finish? On the Monday morning I jogged/walked with Brian from Squaw up to the Emigrant Pass. The snow was fairly thick and covered the top half of the trail. The climb took us nearly 2 hours, something which a 24hr runner should be able to do in 55 minutes. At the top I felt fine at that altitude which was one less worry for me. On the way up me met up with another runner, Craig, who was doing WS for the first time. He was a good source of information and company on the way up. We decided that we should meet up again on the Tuesday morning and go up to Emigrant Pass again to help acclimatise. So on Tuesday just Craig and I went to the top. This time we took 85minutes and I could feel my hands swell up and my head was feeling a little light. How would I feel on Saturday? Wednesday we tried to drive to Robinson Flat. The drive was long but scenic. The higher we got the more snow we encountered and rounding one bend in the road we saw a big black bear blocking it. “Oh crap, so there really are bears up here.” We waited and it slowly moved off. A few miles from Robinson Flat the snow covered everything and although the snow plough seemed to have done a good job of clearing most of the road it abruptly stopped, and so did we infront of an 8ft high face of snow! It was obvious that Robinson Flat would not be open for crew access. We headed back to Michigan Bluff where Brian and I headed out for a short run to Foresthill. This section was only 10km but took us nearly 2hrs as we managed to do a bit of additional sight seeing, mostly of large footprints in the dust. This event was quickly looking like a smorgus board of runners for wildlife to feed on. It was also looking increasingly like a 30hr finish for me. Thursday was a rest day ahead of Friday which was a day of processing and briefing. I had read most of the posts speculating what the course was going to be, the effects on time, etc, so it was good to listen to the actual facts at the briefing. The 2011 course was to use a new snow route which luckily for me kept us out of the higher altitudes. Also on Friday I was able to catch up with some of the other Aussies, Andrew, Marcus, Brian, Caroline and Matt Meckenstock (QLD boy) who had offered to pace me. He was over to initially do the Tahoe 100 miler which due to injury and lack of training got reduced to the 50miler then a DNS. We sounded like a really good team. Matt was a little unsure about his abilities but committed himself to at least 20miles but Brian was hoping he would tough it out for the whole lot so that I was less likely to be eaten.

I didn’t get much sleep the morning before the run but still managed to get to the start line. We estimated that the temperature at the start was just 2deg C. I had something to eat then lined up with the others at the start line. As the count down begun and the gun sounded all I thought was ‘Oh Shit’. I fought for a little space and followed Andrew up the road to the first CP in the dim light. People soon found their own rhythm and the field started to stretch out a little. It was comforting to have done this part of the trail twice before.
It was cold before the start.
Up in the snow I was finding the footing very difficult. It was tiring and no one seemed to have the same stride length as me. I managed to fall over twice and graze my knees in the snow. All up I think it lasted for 17 miles and I was glad to get back onto firmer ground.

I started to feel a little nauseous around Mosquito Ridge (31miles). I had felt this way before in races but never this early or the bad and never with the feeling of really wanting to throw up. I had always thought that giving in to it would mean the end of my race, that I would need to drop out or potentially be pulled due to a decreasing body weight, something which wouldn’t take much given my frame. I suppressed the feeling for as long as I could until I finally gave in and opened up. I instantly felt physically better, but mentally I was in a bad place. I was in an unfamiliar place. Should I push on, should I wait a bit, what should I do? I let my legs move me forward while my head thought about it. The next CP was Devil’s Thumb where we had a medical check. I got weighed and was surprised that my body weight had changed very little given what had just occurred. While all this was going on I had completely forgotten about my ITB and moved on down the trail.

At Michigan Bluff I was met by Mum who had a bag of goodies for me. This was the first point at which our crew could access the course, 56miles. Here I changed shoes and socks, topped up with some Powerade and a handfull of familiar food. Then it was off on to the only other part of the trail that I had run the Wednesday before.

Heading into Foresthill I met up with Brian and Matt before the CP. Brian said that he had been following my progress and knew that I had had some low points given my times at the previous CP’s. Apparently I was on target for a 21hr finish and in just one leg between Devil’s Thumb and El Dorado Creek had dropped to 22hrs. This is where my splits sat for more than half the run. Mum had told him that I wasn’t looking good that that she was starting to get worried about me, more worried that than usual. I’m glad that Brian told her to suppress her fears and to just push me on towards the finish. Down the road I ran with Matt by my side to a long procession of applause and encouragement from the other support crews who lined the half kilometer of road out of the Foresthill CP.

We didn’t have to go down the trail too far before I threw up again, and again. Matt was a great support and patiently waited until I was finished before offering me encouragement, then off we went again.

We were loosing the last of the twilight and turned on out head torches as we approached Rucky Chucky. We didn’t need them for long as there was plenty of light emanating from the Nearside CP. I had a bit to eat before making my way down to the river and the awaiting raft. Across the other side we were met by Brian who had walked down from the Green Gate CP. I picked up some fruit on the way out of the Farside CP and together we walked up the hill. It wasn’t long before I showed Brian what I had been doing for most of the run so far and so when I had finished we pushed on again. Brian let me know that I was still on target for a 22hr finish, something that I simply could not believe given my performances at the side of the trail and slowing rate, but he was adamant that I was doing enough. This was also the point at which Matt had originally intended to drop out. Although we were going quite slow I know that it had been a long day for him too as he had been at Squaw for the start. Thankfully he showed no signs of quitting and stuck with me.

We arrived at Green Gate CP where I saw Mum then left her with Brian and took off again with Matt to the next CP. This is where I started to feel a little better and started to have a second wind. Heck, I had waited long enough for it to return. We picked up our pace a little and started to overtake a few people, which is a boost in its own right.

At the Highway 49 crossing we were met by Brian and Mum again who were still waiting patiently for us to arrive. After a quick exchange of words and their encouragement we pushed on. We headed down to No Hands Bridge which was nicely lit up along its entire length. It would have made a lovely spot for some alfresco dining, but the finish was so close so we passed up the opportunity.

Brian was waiting in the morning chill at Robie Point for Matt and I to arrive. He later said that he knew it was us as Matt is twice my height wearing my Ay-Up, looking like a towering beacon over my much lower and dimmer headlight. When we picked him up all I could see was the next runner just ahead. Before the finish I was determined to catch just one more person, so I power walked the hill up to the bitumen, then I started to run the remaining undulating hills. Brian stuck with me (which is a change) but Matt struggled a little, although he dug deep and managed to stay with us. I managed to pass the other runner and continued on towards the finish, running the last little bit to the end. Although the finish line was a little subdued compared to all those CP before it it was still a good sight to finish under the clock which read 22:16:28.

I have to say a big THANKYOU to Matt who stuck by me through my low points all the way to the finish.

I didn’t manage to achieve all my initial targets for the race but I am extremely happy to have finished and got a silver belt buckle in the process. There is always next year. A big congratulations to Andrew Vize who, as always, manages himself well in these events and to Robin and Caroline. A perfect finish record for the 2011 Aussie contingent, when some of us had not had the perfect lead up to the event.

In retrospect, and after some seriously sleeping and recovery, I really enjoyed the WS experience. The course was a good challenge covering all sorts of terrain including the previously unfamiliar one of snow. In the daylight the views were spectacular and offered a good distraction. The checkpoints were overkill and I was not used to being so spoiled so frequently. Some resembled more of a party than a CP and at these I felt like a gate crasher. I hope WS for me isn’t just an event which has been ticked off the bucket list, but one which I will get the opportunity to do again.

I would like to thank all those people who gave me their support and encouragement leading up to WS. I am glad that you have more confidence in my ability than I do.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Six Foot Track 2011 – Race Report

Six Foot is such a great running event. It’s in the Blue Mountains. It’s on trail. It was my first trail event, having qualified at Beyond the Black Stump and my longest race, having stepped up from a one off road half marathon. From my first finish time in ‘08 of 5:08:10, it’s also an event that inspires me to train harder to improve on the previous year’s effort.

Each year after finishing Six Foot I am left feeling as though I had given it my all, however as my body recovers I start to think that perhaps I could dig deeper and go faster again. As this year’s event approached the feeling that perhaps I didn’t give it my best last year started to envelop me. I’m lucky as I am surrounded by a lot of passionate trail runners in my boutique running club, Berowra Bush Runners. We share a healthy rivalry and respect for each other. For me, training for Six Foot this year tended to merge into training for a few other trail running events (Bogong to Hotham and Cradle Mtn). The other trail races were both very technical races whereas Six Foot is mostly on fire trails. To train for Six Foot I relied on repetitive laps of Quarry Rd fire trail. Every Saturday, and occasional any other day of the week, I along with other Bush Runners would start at the Hornsby end at first light and run until there would be no one else to run with. Chatting with friends and talking about race tactics and results is a good way to pass km’s while training and a lot of people seemed to pigeon hole me into the plausible Six Foot finish time of 4:10. In face so may people started to tell me the same time that I really started to believe it myself. It would be a big jump from the previous year’s PB of 4:23:30.

Lining up for the start this year was no different to previous years. I stood with the other Berowra Bush Runners (Chris, Noel, Pete T and Dave G) in the hope that they would provide me with some protection in the stampede that follows the starter’s gun. As the gun sounded and Wave 1 surged forward I slotted in nicely behind some other polite runner and cruised down to the top of Nellies Glen without incident. The rain from the following night had caused the stairs to become muddy and slippery. These are the kind of conditions I love but they have the potential to catch you out and ruin your day.Attached Image

I took my time over the first quarter of the race. I have done Six Foot enough times to realise that it truly starts after Pluvi. Crossing Megalong Road is always a nice distraction. There is always a small crowd that gathers to cheer runners along. I take the time to look around for friendly faces I recognise and their presence and support is greatly appreciated. At the crossing I was informed I was about 6th Female and not too far behind the leaders.

The run down to Cox’s gives me the impression of being on a roller coaster. The trail is free flowing and there are banked corners that you can run around and lean right over while keeping the same speed. On the decent fellow Bush Runners Chris G, Dave G, Noel were nowhere to be seen and I wasn’t sure how far in front they were or if I would even see them again before the finish. I know that all three of them would be going hard, even if it was just to stay in front of me. Our Six foot times are all fairly close and we all have an equal chance of beating each other along with all important bragging rights. Neither of us were going to let the others get a lead that we wouldn’t try to close before the finish. Being a girl it is quite acceptable to finish behind a bloke, but it always seems to be more important for a bloke to push himself and finish in front of a girl.

At the bottom of the single trail I was faced with the Coxs River crossing, something I dread every year. Just like my dog, we both hate getting our feet wet. At least the river was down this year and I didn’t have to embarrass myself by swimming. When I clambered out the other side I found it so hard to get going again with the added weight of the water and sand in my shoes. It was as though the ground was covered in chewing gum. After the first km of climbing I dried off enough to start striding out a bit and I started to mix my walking with a bit of running. This second quarter of Six Foot has me perplexed. I am not sure how to tackle the climbs that follow the river crossing. I tend to judge my approach on how I feel, not how quickly I can get to the top and then the finish line. In some places I jog and overtake walkers. In other spots I walk and overtake joggers.

When I finally reached Pluvi I wiped from my mind the first half of the race and instead focused on the third quarter, Black Range. By this time I had worked my way up to 4th Female and I could see 3rd just a hundred or so metres ahead. I got a good look at her as she passed me going up pluvi. I must have done alright on the climbs as I had caught up with Noel and Dave G not far after reaching Pluvi. Neither of us were going to show any sign of weakness, although we were all probably equally feeling it. Especially Noel who had completed the Centenial Park 100km 2 weeks earlier. Black Range is essentially considered the flat part of Six Foot, however it is anything but flat.

As I descended down to the Deviation CP I saw Brian (my husband) and Ted (mentor) waiting for my arrival. They let me know how I was going and gave words of encouragement. I had no idea of my ETA but judging from Brian’s comments I was on target for a good PB. I was still only about 100m behind the 3rd placed female. This was going to be an all or nothing final quarter.

I went through the dips that follow the Deviation CP and arrived at Jenolan Caves Rd Crossing CP to the cheers and support of Brian and Ted who had cycled around from the previous CP. Again they reminded me that I was still only about 100m behind 3rd. ‘I know’ was my reply as I passed them.

Further along at the Fire Brigade/Cabin CP Brian and Ted were again there to remind me that I was still only about 100m behind 3rd. ‘I know’ was the reply from the other runners who had been with me at the previous CP and had heard my earlier reply. I had been running pretty hard to keep within reach of 3rd and knowing the course well I thought the steep down hill just near the end would be the prefect spot to close the gap.

On the decent down to the Upper Carpark track I opened up and gave it everything I had. In hind sight I was probably a little reckless, but the risk I took paid off and I had closed the gap and was looking for a spot to make my move. I waited until the track widened at the point where the Upper Carpark track meets the Six Foot track meets the Grand Arch track to slip around 3rd place then I ran like the wind down towards the finish line. I put everything into closing the gap, then that overtaking move, but once I got what I was after I just found that little bit extra to bring it home.
Attached Image
I was pretty happy with my finishing time of 4:10:06. I pushed myself pretty hard and am glad to be rewarded with a podium and some 6ft dinner ware.

After getting my breath back I got cleaned up with a nice hot shower then joined the other Bush Runners and our band of supporters and watched the procession of runners enjoy their moment of glory as they crossed the finish line.

P.S. Thanks EnduroExplorer for the photos.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Cradle Mountain 2011

This was my first time to Tasmania and I was quite excited to see what it had on offer. My husband (Brian who had been to Tassie a few times previously) and I flew into Launceston on the Wednesday before the run to have a bit of a holiday beforehand. We landed early in the morning, picked up our hire car and headed south away from Launceston. It wasn’t our inability to navigate, just that we allowed our curiosity choose which road to go down. After exploring some of the quaint country townships on the outskirts of Launceston we eventually made our way into the city. Brian was keen to show me Launceston’s Gorge so we made a bee line over to its entrance. As we neared the gorge itself, there were a few teenage boys dressed in boardies geeing each other up. As we got closer Brian told me to slow down and to watch what they were about to do. We slowly walked past and as we did it finally occurred to me what they were doing. The boys walked out into the middle of the old iron bridge and then proceeded to climb over the railing. Standing on the outside of the bridge they held their boyhood in one hand before letting go of the railing and plunging the 10 or so metres into the silty waters below. It looked pretty cool, but there is no way that I was going to give it a go. As we continued up the gorge it became apparent that the teenagers of Launceston were intent on throwing themselves off any platform they could fine, whether it be rock, tree of bridge.

Our return journey out of the Gorge took us up and over the Zig Zag Trail. As we were climbing up we were passed by a fit looking bloke (presumably local) running up over the hillside. As we continued on he returned to pass us yet again, however this time he slowed down, looked around and then stoped. Looking at Brian’s TNF100 T-shirt he asked if he was doing Cradle. No he wasn’t but he pointed out that I was. It turned out that the guy we met was Clarence who was putting in some last minute hill reps before lining up for this years run also. I am not sure what sort of first impression I made upon Clarence as he checked me up and down and asked if I was going to wear ‘those shoes?’ and was I going to strap my ankles. To which I replied “probably’ and ‘I don’t normally, but should I?’. After a bit more banter Clarence offered to catch up before heading over to Cradle Mtn Lodge to give me some insight into the course. If we had a bit more time then I definitely would have taken him up on is offer. What a nice guy. Is everyone this nice in Tassie?

On Thursday morning we travelled to Cradle Mtn Lodge where we met up with Brian’s parents and his sister. We arrived around lunch time and got to enjoy our meal on the back deck of our cabin while watching the wallabies go about their business just meters away from us. So I could familiaris myself with some of the trail and enjoy the views before the race, Brian and I decided to run up Cradle Mtn. It was lots of fun clambering over the debris field. The day was clear and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Apparently we were pretty lucky. We savoured the view from the top then brought out the camera. I went to turn it on and nothing. Tried again and still nothing. Take the batteries out, warm them up, swap them over, put them back again, then still nothing. Bugger! We turned around and headed back down to the carpark. We returned back to the Lodge just in time to get cleaned up and attend dinner. At dinner with Brian’s family we were discussing how we went up Cradle Mtn with a camera that had flat batteries, and to make amends Brian convinced his sister to join him on a return journey to get the photos that we failed to get.

I spent the day before the race just relaxing around the lodge reading my book and exploring some of the local trails. The day passed slowly and at 5pm I gathered my race pack and made my way down to briefing. I joined my fellow runners at the briefing and saw a lot of unfamiliar faces and a lot of very lean looking bodies. The standout comment at briefing was ‘stay on the track’. Apparently this was going to be gauged by how muddy runners were as they traversed the track. This made me a bit nervous as to how bad the trail really was. Talking to friends prior to the run I had heard all sorts of stories. Some were brutally honest while others seemed fanciful in their description of how technical the trail could be. Was I supposed to finish the event as I had at Mud Run? After briefing I had my weight measure and a sample of blood taken before dinner and then it was off to the cabin and bed.

After a restless sleep the alarm went off at 5am. A quick change of clothes and a choc chip muffin and I was set to go. At the starting area I quickly found the few familiar faces I knew of Julie Q and David B. I was unsure of where to put myself at the start as the first section of trail follows a narrow board walk and I didn’t want to get trampled or hold anyone up. So I followed Julie and we found ourselves right at the pointy end of the starters. At 6am sharp we were off and flying down the board walk towards Marion’s Lookout and the Overland Trail beyond. I pushed hard at the start so as to not frustrate people behind, but I knew that whoever overtook me now I had a pretty good chance of seeing them again before the end.

After Kitchen Hut people started to spread out and after Waterfall Valley I soon found myself alone taking in the beautiful surroundings until I started to literally disappear into the track. I had stayed on the trail as requested and subsequently run through the mud when it suddenly swallowed my whole leg. I was stunned and couldn’t believe what had happened. It was a Beth sized trap. When I fell I ended up face down in what felt like a mud pit, in the process bruising my thigh and finger on a hidden rock. I pulled myself out and continued on my way feeling pretty beaten up. Things started to pick up after that (like it could have gotten much worse, right?) and made a conscious effort to be more vigilant.

Andy caught me near Pelion Hut check point so I decided to see how long I could stay with him before I was dropped. After Pelion Hut we ran together happily for quite some time and we caught John. He let us pass but didn’t let us go so now we were three. We ran together for awhile till we spied a big puddle of water. We all stopped for a top up and a quick chat and John and I ran off leaving Andy to play in the puddle a little bit longer. I wondered if I would see him again…. Further on heading into Du Cane Gap, John said there was some good running coming up. Was he referring to good trail, or just better than what we had just been through? We passed Michael who I remember chatting to earlier on in the morning. After Windy Ridge Hut I lifted my pace slightly and meet up with John again at Narcissus Hut. I took advantage of the checkpoint and indulged in a delicious chocolate chip cookie that one of the volunteers baked for as and off I went to catch up with John, again. I was just getting into a rhythm, when nature decided to call. Damn it! So I continued on looking out for the prefect location. Girls will know the one I mean. No spikey shrubs that are going to make you uncomfortable. A nice young tree with smooth bark to help you with your balance. And privacy of course. You know. After finding a satisfactory spot I then focused on hunting down John again. When I found him we plodded along for awhile and he warned me how tedious the last part was around the lake. Getting closer towards the end I saw Chris up ahead who I was also running with long ago. As a distraction I introduced John to Chris and Chris to John. While they were distracted with introductions I quietly put some distance between me and them, then went off in pursuit of the finish.

As I approached Watersmeet I was surprised and relieved to meet up with Brian who said that I had about 1km of easy walking trail ahead of me before the finish. As he accompanied me to the finish he was telling me that I was in 5th place overall. As Brian said this Andy snuck up behind us and shot through. He must have put a fair bit in to catch up because he seemed to slow down and sat 10m in front until he caught up with his mum. This seemed to spur him on a little more and he opened the gap even more. He later told me that when he saw Chris and John near Watersmeet and said he was spurred on and that when he saw me soon after that was the icing on the cake. What a great way for him to finish, taking out three people so close to the end.

It was good to cross the finish line and to have a good look at the bruise on my leg. Wow it was huge. It was the size of a saucer (which on my leg is pretty damn big) and it was already 15 different colours. Before I could start my recovery I was weighed again and the vampires took some more blood. I thought I heard them mention dinner when they were taking it, but I’m sure it was supposed to be for research?! I was pretty pleased with my weight loss for the event, 1.0kg. It gives me confidence that I won’t have problems at Western States later in the year.

After a hot shower and a short nap, Brian, his family and I went to the Lake St Clare Visitors Centre where we sat down for dinner and watched the remaining runners cross the finish line who had made the cut at Narcissus Hut.

I’m really glad that I didn’t listen to my friend’s description of the Cradle Mtn run and that I went down to experience it for myself. I really enjoyed the run along with the people who make these boutique events so special.
After spending a few days down in Hobart recovering I have decided that I’ll try to get back to race next time.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Bogong To Hotham 2011 Race Report

I travelled down with B1 (husband and training partner) on Thursday from Sydney, meeting my parents at the Alpenhorn Hotel which has a beautiful view of Mt Bogong. We had such a lovely time last year that we wanted to spend a bit more time exploring the area before this years run.

I did this run last year so I new what to expect, although that dosen’t make the climb up to Mt Bogong any easier. B1 suggested I run with a watch so I wouldn’t fall short of my target finish time. After we were given the instruction to start in the later wave Noel (a fellow Berowra Bushrunner) reminded me to start my stopwatch, so I pressed a button and continued on. We reached the top in good time according to Noel who informed me that we sumitted one minute quicker than last year. I looked at my watch and it still read 00.00 oopsys but I couldn’t really care less. I don’t ever run with a watch and wouldn’t really know how to interpret the times anyway.

I dropped Noel somewhere around Cleve Cole Hut and started to over take some of the early starters. On the decent down towards Big River I caught B1. I gave him a kiss for good luck, he sure was going to need it! The climb up from Big River goes on a bit and I could really start to feel it in my legs. I tried to run when I reached the top and ended up running all the way to Langfords with Jim who I picked up at Warby Corner. He lifted the pace which felt like a sprint and I thought my little legs were going to drop off. I quickly downed a couple of bread rolls at Langfords and continued to Omeo Rd where I meet up with Jim again and ran with him most of the way to Pole 333. (If I ever open a club/restaurant, I’m calling it ‘Pole 333’).

Jim took off in the mist and I soon found myself alone again trying to get an even pace happening with the uneven ground. Ran down to Dibbin’s Hut and prepared myself for the last climb up to Mt Hotham.

I started off OK but I soon felt an over whelming need to get rid of my thermal top as I was getting way to hot on the climb. Would you belive I couldn’t get the damed thing off, it was stuck to my body like sticky tape. I twisted and turned said a few single sylable words and eventually got it over my head. I took a few moment to recover from that ordeal and had a quick look around to make sure no one had seen my performace before heading off again.

Moments later the trees dopped away and I was exposed to the cooler and windier alpine weather. Within minutes I was freezing and wishing I had left my thermal top on. There was no way I was going to put that thing on again so I settled for my XXXXXS rain jacket which only came up to my elbows. I really need to start buying larger kids size cothing. I caught and then passed Jim around Derrict Hut as he was having a nice conversation with the volunteers.

Once I hit the dirt road I started to run again until the wind became too unbearable. It felt like someone was punching my sholder as I ran along. I tried to fight back and took a few swipes but it was to strong. I gave in pretty quickly and optted for a walk until I hit the bitumen. I knew I was close now. Once I was at the top I saw quite a few people around the finish cairn so I made an effort to run the last little bit.

I was quite relieved to have achieved my target time and take a record that had stood since 1996. From what people have been saying Mrs Tiller got the female record while living in Berowra. As I live in Berowra I would venture to day that Berowra is a good training ground for B2H.

Well done to all the finishers and a big thankyou to all the volunteers who were always so friendly and of course Andy, Brett and Mike for making this run such a success.

This run has to be one of my favouite. It is extremely challenging, but is certainly not boring.