Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Glasshouse Mountains 100km Race Report

I have been writing notes on the back of napkins and on my phone to ensure I capture and remember all of the wonderful parts that made up the Glasshouse 100. The lead up to this race was like none other that I have been part of. I have never had to physically or mentally prepare myself for anything like this.

Training wise leading up to this race it went really well. I was so excited at the prospect of actually being able to train consistently leading up to a race and not use the excuse of surgery or recovery as my reasons for why I didn't train much. For those that have been following this blog I had been ticking over training weeks of around 130-180km for the past 5 weeks. Apart from a 5 day patch that I had off due to rolling my ankle things went pretty well.

On the Friday, the day before the race, the plan was to have a pretty casual morning getting a few final things sorted. I even managed to get hold of the same protein drink in Brisbane that I used in the Kep Ultra back in June which was a bonus. At 2pm Dad and I met up with my mate Rob D and his new friend Chen from China. Chen is a runner who has competed in the Western States 100, The North Face Endurance Challenge, Gobi Desert Race and many more. He doesn't speak a word of English but through some modern technology being the iPad and a translator app we were able to communicate.

We took off and drove around a fair chunk of the course checking out some of the aid stations and track crossings and pretty much taking in everything we could. The Glasshouse Mountains area is truly fantastic with amazing scenery everywhere. It was a real bonus being able to look over some of the course albeit from the car. After we got back I picked up my race number and race pack with my event t-shirt which was pretty cool.

We hung around the Beerburrum Primary School for an hour or two waiting for the race briefing at 6.30pm. Dad and I decided to go for a walk along the first 9.7km section from the school covering about 2-3km before heading back to the car. It was really cool having pops there to share what was going to be one of my biggest challenges to date. Dad has a really good way of putting things into perspective and just generally being a great person to talk to about all things running.

The race briefing was exactly that. A pretty brief chat covering everything that needed to be said. When the Race Director Ian Javes was explaining the course it was quite remarkable and as if he was literally walking you around the course as we were there. Upon arriving home, Mum, Auntie Mitzi and Liz had been preparing a massive pre race meal for us. Some yummy chicken and this crazy rice pasta. The Italian name I can't remember but it was great.

The rest of the night was spent making final preparations and making sure I had everything just where it needed to be before the big race.

Now I know they say you don't get much sleep the night before a race but I think I took this theory to a whole new level. I was in bed by about 9.30pm, and nearly to the minute 1 hour later I woke up feeling like it was morning. I was absolutely gutted to look at my phone and see 2230 on the screen. However, I managed to be back asleep not too long after and didn't wake until 4am after running through the race in my sleep numerous times.

Race morning was fantastic. After attending a Hammer Nutrition seminar held by Steve Born (a multiple RAM finisher amongst other incredible feats) a week before the race I was trying out his theory on pre race nutrition. The biggest thing I took out of this was that it was better off for me to not eat breakfast before the race if I couldn't do it at least 3hours before hand. I'll go into this more another time.

We were all packed up and made our way back to Beerburrum Primary School. We weren't there long before I was setting off on what was going to be my toughest physical and mental adventure yet. 

The race started with a really nice 10km loop which finished back at the school. It was a pretty flat loop and really enjoyable. For the first time this year I wasn't the first one off the start line and in fact there were several people ahead of me. For some reason I was just so content on cruising along and taking in some of the scenery. Chen had the right idea and had a camera in his pack and took a few photos during this loop. There were numerous guys and girls that took off ahead of me including pre race favourites Ben Duffus and Dan Nunan and Chen. After 3km I kept thinking when am I going to see these guys again, am I going to be able to catch them later on??

Upon returning to the school I swapped my handheld bottle for my pack and headed off up the road to tackle Mt Beerburrum. This was my first eye opener on the course as we headed up Mt Beerburrum. The initial 4wd trail heading up was all runnable and relatively tame. Then once we hit the bitumen single path things got fun. It was a really good slog up the hill, steeper than anything Perth has on offer and I actually enjoyed it. Upon reaching the summit I was being passed going the other way by quite a few runners. I had gone up the hill with eventual 100 mile winner Ian Gallagher and last years 100km winner Oliver Zambon so thought that the pace we were going must be sensible. 

I ran the next section from the bottom of Mt Beerburrum through to Checkpoint 4 with the two 100mile runners Ian and Oliver and also Damian, another 100 miler. We were going along pretty cruisey and I was really enjoying the scenery and having a chat with them. It was more or less fire trail through this section with a nice section of single track thrown in there too. After running through the checkpoint at CP 5, I started pulling away from the 100 mile guys, not through intentionally doing so. During this section I caught up to a guy who had taken off from the start line too fast and he wasn't really moving too fast. Not long later i caught Ben Duffus, one of the pre race favourites and we ran together for about 6-7km. It was nice running along with someone and we had a pretty good chat. We passed through checkpoint 6 and then soon caught the race leader Dan Nunan. We then all ran together along some technical trails with some nice elevation gain thrown in and it was here when I started thinking that maybe I was going to do alright in this race. It was great fun running along with these guys and they seemed like top blokes. I seemed to pull away from the two guys on the hillier sections and then they were running faster to catch up on the flat. We did a bit of cat and mouse through to CP 6P before dropping down into the valley to tackle the power lines section. 

We had gone to CP 6P the day before with Rob and Chen to check it out as we heard that it was the toughest part of the course. We didn't run any of the course itself but had a look and took a few photos of where the trail went. After dropping into the valley I needed to take a nature stop so let Ben and Dan take off ahead of me. Once again I was left thinking when am I going to see these guys again. It was a decision I had to make to stop but I knew I would run better afterwards so wasn't a hard decision. About 10 minutes later I caught back up to the guys without expending any more energy than I wanted to which was pleasing. Gradually as this section went on I started to pull away from the two guys and entered the aid station at checkpoint 8 on my own. Here I had my weight checked for the first time which was bang on where I had started which was cool. My hydration and nutrition must be working I thought.

I then left CP 8 in really good spirits and I was just having a fantastic time. As I left in conversation with Liz I said my legs were feeling really good. At this point an aid station volunteer said that will change after the loop. The loop at CP 8 was really cool, some really nice trail through here and I was running along well. I had forgotten to ask what pace I was targeting for this section so stayed around 5min10sec per km as this was achieved quite easily. On this section I had my closest encounters with some wildlife being this big lizard thing and a big snake of some description. Seeing the snake definitely made me realise I needed to keep an eye out as I didn't want to have to use my compression bandage if I didn't have to. 

After the loop and returning to CP8 Liz told me that Uncle Glen and my wee cousins Harrison and Connor were going to be at CP7 waiting there. This gave me a real buzz and something to look forward to. This section was pretty good going, a few hills thrown in but all went well, and still no sign of Ben or Dan. In the back of my mind I was still thinking that either one of those two were going to come roaring past or even my new friend Chen the Chinese Ultra Man. I made sure I didn't do anything silly or get too carried away as there was still a loooong way to go. At the approach to CP7 I heard Liz calling out support and cheering and I could also see my wee cousins standing on the trail and as I got closer I could hear Harrison yelling run fast Scotty, run fast. It was so cool to have my family there cheering me on and supporting me. There was no sign of the other runners along the dirt road so things were still going well.

I headed off to do the loop at checkpoint 7 which I think was about 7km. About 4.5km in or 68km into the race disaster struck. I got to a track intersection which was a little confusing to say the least. Long story short, I missed the painted arrows on the ground on the inside left turn and carried on straight ahead following the usual white tape tied to trees. Turns out there was an equestrian event on the week before and they used the same white tape as we were. I think I got about 1 to 1.5km along here before deciding to head back to where I knew I had last seen Glasshouse markers. On the return I saw the painted arrows indicating to go left and when I looked further down the trail I saw Dan coming up towards me. I yelled out to him to turn left here so he didn't risk doing the same as me. I was a bit frustrated about getting lost but that's just part of trail running. Dan was walking up a hill that I ran up when I saw him so despite being gutted he had caught up I was confident that I could pull away from him again.

By the time I got back to CP6P we think I added about 4mins during a 7.5km section. By this stage Nana Shirley and Auntie Mitzi had tag-teamed with Glen and the boys to cheer me on. A quick drink change and some protein shake and I was away again heading for CP5. Checkpoint 6 through to Checkpoint 5 was by far the toughest section of the course. What I thought was going to be relatively undulating turned out to be just that, but some of the biggest undulations I had come across in a while. There was basically just a lot more power hiking in this section than I predicted. This was fine though as I was still feeling strong and happy to get the job done. Arriving at CP5 I was feeling pretty hot and had been having problems with my visor feeling too tight so I decided to change to my old hat and Liz being the clever one poured some ice cold water into it which was awesome!!

As I left CP 5 (89km) to head for the finish, Dad called out and said I just needed to do sub 6min K's if I wanted to break the old course record. By this stage after getting lost I was just hoping to maintain 1st place and concentrate on finishing well. As I left I began running downhill and felt remarkably strong. I ran the last 11km to the finish really strong and felt great. I kept thinking why am I feeling so good after running 90km already? I put it down to my training and getting some good mileage in the weeks leading up to the race, and also from wearing my Hoka One One shoes. I managed to sneak in a few 4min40sec K's leading into the finish and when I saw my support crew with 2km to go I felt I was going to get there.

I crossed the finish line at the school in 9:04:09 and in first place, and breaking the previous record by just under 10 minutes. I felt overwhelmed with excitement as I had just finished running 100km over some pretty rough terrain with some nice elevation thrown in to keep me honest. We stayed at the school for around about 20mins in which time no one had come in. We then left to go back to Nana Shirley's place to have a rest and get ready for her surprise 60th Birthday Party.

It was an absolutely fantastic day that I will remember for the rest of my life. It was such an awesome experience running that far and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. 

For the surprise dinner that night, despite being dressed up in pants and a dress shirt I convinced Liz that it would still look flash if I wore my Hoka's with my jeans. I tried putting on some other shoes but none compared for comfort with the Hoka's.

I need to thank so many people for helping me achieve this massive goal. Thanks to Cleggy from and Clontarf for covering my Sunday shift allowing me to go. Thanks to the wonderful kitchen ladies at the boarding house for giving me all the food I needed in the weeks leading up to the race. Thanks to all my friends and family for all of your positive messages along the way, they all helped! Thanks to Roger at Hoka One One for suggesting the Bondi B's for me, they were outstanding!! Thanks to my family who were there on the day, it was so special having you there for such an occasion. Thanks to Mum and Dad for being such an awesome support crew with Liz and always being there for support along the way. Thanks Dad for your straight up approach to running a race and getting it done.

A huge, Mc Massive, never going to be big enough thank you to my wonderful wife Liz. I could not achieve any of this without your constant love and support. All of the time we sacrifice spending together so I can head off into the trails and everything you do from cooking wonderful nutritious meals, somehow justifying spending 100's and 1000's of dollars on gear and race stuff, massages at 9.30pm at night and the list goes on. 

This probably/definitely isn't a text book race report by any means as I feel there is more to running a race than the boring nitty gritty details of every kilometre. I hope it gives you a bit of an insight into what made up the Glasshouse 100km for me and feel like you were there for some of the way. 


Me, Rob D, Chen Penbin at the Powerlines section (CP6P)

Just after the start
Near CP8

Along the first 9.7km loop

Mt Tibrogargan

The Hokas and jeans combo, I feel it's working for me ;)

Bill Thompson, 69 years old and finishing the 100miler strong. Inspirational!

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