Forecast was for cool weather which every runner must have been looking forward to. As we settled into the first climb of the day my intentions for the first lap was to take things as easily as possible but ensure I stayed within contact of the front runners. Not long after the first climb of the day began, my good mate James was controlling the pace up front and I had settled in about 40-50 metres behind. About 6km in was the first aid station which was where the infamous "3 steps climb" commenced. This is a climb that I have done numerous times now but every time it seems to hurt just as much. About 200m into the climb I caught up to James and we ran some of the climb together until it got a bit steeper and we started power hiking which was where I put a bit of a gap on James. Soon after, James caught back up after a bit of a downhill which was where he was making up a lot of ground.
After about 1hr 15min of running we were at the Jarrahdale aid station. It was pretty cool being in a race and being up front with one of my good mates. Throughout the previous 16km I kept on telling James about the awesome 9km of downhill single track that we got to tackle after the aid station. I jokingly said to James just after the aid station to look out because the super quick marathon runner Todd Ingraham might catch us on a brief 1.5km road section. I then looked over my shoulder to see another mate Tom chasing us hard on the road section. I was then pretty keen to get onto the technical single track and try and make a gap on Tom because I knew that he is a really strong runner.
James and I had an absolute blast tearing along the single track trying to stay upright in certain parts due to things being really slippery because of some rain that had been falling. About 3km from the start/finish line I slowly started pulling away from James and ended up completing the first 25km loop in 1:55:xx with James close behind as I heard the crowd cheer him across the line.
I finished the first lap feeling pretty good considering what we had just run and I was confident of running a solid second lap. I soon got into a groove and knew I had my climbing legs on today. The first decent climb hurt a little at the top but I was able to get all the way to the start of the 3 steps climb feeling pretty good. I felt before the race that this was where I was going to push hard on the second lap and make a break. The hills are always my strong point so figured here was going to be as good a time as any. The situation was quite different to what I had envisioned pre-race in that I was out front and after beginning the climb I could not see James, Tom or any others coming down the steep descent to the start of the next climb so I knew I had a reasonable lead.
I kept things really steady through the flat section from about 8km-16km and was rolling off some 4ish minute km's and loving the rolling flat stuff and a few sub 4min km's on the downhill stuff. I was making sure I kept up with my nutrition and hydration plans to make sure I didn't fall apart later in the race. I went back to using GU gels for this race as my normal Perth provider of Hammer Gels had run out of any flavours I had used before. The GU's worked an absolute treat throughout the race and had no stomach issues and maintained pretty steady energy levels throughout the race.
I was really looking forward to seeing Liz at the 16km aid station and had a quick few words whilst I filled up my handheld and then was off on my way. The legs were feeling a bit fatigued by now after covering 41km so I kept on reminding myself about my previous training sessions and that there was no point in doing core strength and speed tempo runs if I was just going to roll over and slow up just because I was a bit tired. And then I hit the single track! My legs instantly felt lighter and I must have looked like some crazy man to the bush walkers I was passing as I was hammering it along tight, technical single track with a big cheesy grin in the rain. I was having an absolute blast running this section and was so happy being out there.
During the last few km of single track I was able to relax a little and really enjoy the trails. I was running along thinking "this is it, this is what it's all about". I was so happy running along through the bush and trails and thinking about what else is to come in 2013.
The last few hundred metres involved a very steep descent down to the valley floor which was a bit hectic as I was sliding down greasy rocks looking forward to hitting the finish line. I crossed the line in 3:50:55 for first place. I was super happy with how the race went and was glad to have put in a solid performance. The podium was rounded out with solid times from James in 4:06:xx and Tom in 4:16:xx. I couldn't believe that I had gone sub 4hrs on that course. Pre-race James and I had discussed a time of around 4:15-4:20 which we thought was realistic. This race felt like a bit of redemption from what happened in New Zealand and I am really happy to have had a good run.
A special thanks to Bernadette and Rolf for putting on such an awesome race that I know everyone loved! I can't wait to see what's in store for 2014!!
I'm now starting to get really excited about our trip to the USA and Alaska where I am hoping to run some amazing trails and see some amazing sights. Especially looking forward to climbing up some mountains in Alaska and also running in the headlands in San Francisco.
I'd like to thank my sponsors Hoka One One and RaceReady for their support and for helping me achieve what I am hoping for in 2013.
For those interested in the gear I used:
- BCR branded Headsweats Hat
- Ryders Eyewear Sunglasses
- RaceReady Tech Shirt and Shorts
- Compressport Calf Guards
- Hoka One One Stinson Evo Trail Shoes
- Injinji Performance Toe Socks
- GU gels
- Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes
Here's a few shots from the race...
|Crossing the finish line in 3:50:55|
|Me followed closely by James just before the sweet single track|
|Everyone taking off at the start|
|Me and James leaving the 16km Aid Station|
|Approaching the 16km Aid Station for the second time|
|The awesome aid station volunteers|
|Enjoying some fast flat trail|
|Podium Women and Men in the 50km. L-R: Helen Roberts, Beck Hefferon, Jamie McLoughlan, RD Bernadette Benson, Me, James Roberts, Tom Bakowski.|