Friday, 21 June 2013

Running on trails (or is that mud) in the Australian bush

It’s been a lazy couple of weeks on the blog writing front, but luckily not on the keeping fit front. Even though Im not running marathon training distances I’m still ticking over the kilometres – and now I have a proper goal!!!! No more “what do you do when you don’t know what to do” statements from me (well for the time being).

Update for you is that I ran the Mount Macedon Trail series on the first Sunday in winter the 2nd of June. And let me tell you it felt like winter, it was surely 2 degrees celcius, slow misty drizzle all day and slippery rocky, muddy trails. When I left the accommodation (at the base of the mountain) in the early hours of the morning I was tossing up whether to wear a jacket whilst running or would a simple t-shirt suffice. Thank goodness I went with the jacket or I’d probably have suffered hypothermia, us Australians are a tad weaker when it comes to colder weather, we generally live in 30 degree temps not this close to freezing stuff.

I arrived at the start an hour before my 10km race (or run) time, to make sure I could see off a few parkrun buddies on their 30km journey. Under a small hut everyone was huddled, stamping feet and cursing their insanity whilst getting instructions from the race director. A similar situation occurred for the 10km runners before we were led to the start solemnly whilst the last post was being played over a loud speaker. The reason for the music was that we were starting near the Memorial Cross, a 21 metre tall stone cross that was erected to honour those Australians who lost their lives at war.

The 10km course was a simple out and back arrangement with a mountain climb (the Camels Hump) at the 5km mark. The Camels Hump is the highest point in the Macedon Ranges and local websites describe the walking paths being scenic and offering a steep 500 metre path that ascends to the peak where the viewing platform offers panoramic views to the north and west. I can inform you that on this day – yes it was steep, and wet and slippery and the steps themselves were actual puddles so there was no escaping the squishy socks for the trip back. What panoramic view? I had one of misty fog about 10 metres in front of me, but that was to the north, east, west and south!!!

But I’m getting ahead of myself, before I made it to the 5km turn around spot I managed to take a wrong turn along one of the trails (serves me right for being at the tail end of the field and acting like a sheep and just following the runners in front of me). What that actually meant was that we added about 1km to our journey before we realised there were no markers, the massive downhill path we’d been on wasn’t in any elevation previews that we’d all looked at as well as there were no lead runners coming back the other way having turned around. This meant we were LOST. Up and down the hill a couple of times, checking of paths leading off a few times, a couple of form “I know we’re lost statements” a call to the race director, retracing our steps until we found markers and we were back on the proper trail. Albeit at the very tail end of the field.

But hey what a blast. I personally finished the 10kms in 49th spot (yippee a top 50 finish – just don’t tell anybody there were only 54 finishers) but with a time of 2:03:19, some very muddy shoes and a story to tell about how I got lost in a National Park.

All up it has reinvigorated my love of running the trails, even though I didn’t push that hard there after I became lost as the concept of finishing in under 90 mins was completely shot to bits. But the new training program has kicked in because on 17 November this year I will be tackling the 42kms of another marathon but this one will be at Marysville, on the trails, up two waterfalls and a mountainside or two, avoiding snakes and generally having a sensational running experience. There are longer term goals that are on the agenda, but I’ll save the revelation of those for another day. I'll try and be true to my word and check in sometime soon after after next weekend where I'll be running 15kms on the urban trail of our Salomon Series race 1 at Studley Park.