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Monday, October 20, 2008

Trailblazer 2008 race report

Trailblazer report copied from Coolrunning post.

We got to the start with plenty of time to check in and only had to wait for the team infront of us. Other teams who arrived a bit later ended up waiting for quite a while, to the extent that the start was pushed back about 10 minutes. While we were getting ready I suggested we do it at the start line. Good move. Soon after, the crowds started lining up and I would have hated to have started back further and fight our way past all the walkers. In the starting area I was able to meet up with some friends and former teamates including Babette, the woman I ran my first Trailblazer with in 2004. We had a good chat while waiting for the delayed start. She mentioned at one point about the new route through Morialta, but I didn't make too much of it thinking that they had just altered the way up to the first falls. I was to discover later the ramifications of this "small change in the course".

The race started, and after a mad rush by a few teams, who by the look of their attire weren't going to be running for long, we settled into 5 min/km pace which we basically banged out consistently all the way to checkpoint 1, getting there in 1:35. I changed my shoes from road runners to trail runners there, then we set off up Amber's Gully.

Fortunately for us, although it was warm, there was some high cloud keeping the temperature from reaching the forecast maximum too early (it did eventually get to 35 degrees though). At the top of Amber's Gully I saw Sunny's sign (thanks again) and across the valley I could see a 50 km team and already knew in the back of my mind that unless they had injury or illness we would have trouble catching them. We didn't know at that stage that they were the first team though. Anyway, the rest of the climb up Blackhill went smoothly and the descent down to Montacute road was fine. Surprisingly, I had already nearly emptied my 2L hydraton pack and had a 600mL staminade in just 24 odd km! Refilled the pack, and set off up Montacute road and then up through Morialta. It really started to get warm up the top part of the climb up Morialta, but cooled off a bit as we went down the other side to the Morialta checkpoint which we reached in 3:30. Had a big can of "Mother" there and grabbed a bar to eat on the way and set off towards the climb back out of Morialta.

Then we discovered the new route. It is one of those fire tracks where they set Bessa blocks sideways into the ground and fill them with earth or gravel. They actually resemble a ladder somewhat, and when they are leading up a track that steep, they pretty much are a ladder! The track levelled out for a bit, went around a corner, and just as I thought they were going to take us up through they valley past the waterfall via the Yurrebilla/Heysen trail, the route went straight up the hill again on the same blocks! And it continued to go up until we were up past the powerlines. Then, cruelly, the course went back down to eventually join the Yurrebilla trail just before a nice flat section leading up to Colonial drive. Here I refilled the hydration pack again and we continued on, albeit with Wida experiencing some persistent calf cramps. It wasn't too long until we were at the top of Horsnell's Gully (now known as Giles Conservation Park). The descent to the bottom went well. After some fairly intermittant running since the bottom of Morialta, it was nice to get a few good km of faster running in. The fun of that was soon over as we started back up to the top. It was very humid down the bottom, especially in a couple of little patches where the sweat was just pouring out. It was another tough climb out of Horsnell's, but not as bad as Morialta. At Coach road we met up with Dad, I refilled the hydration pack again then we trundled along to checkpoint 3 in 5:52. I did grab a vegemite sandwich there and it was the best tasting thing I ate all race (sick of snakes and gu and staminade).

The final 6 km took us exactly 1 hour, it didn't seem like an hour, but numbers don't lie. This last bit was really all about just trying to find a balance between running all the downhills and flats, trying to run up the less steep uphill parts and not walking too slowly up the steeper parts. All the while I was secretly worried that another team would come breezing past us in the last few km. My legs finally went a bit jelly-like at the road crossing just below Mt Lofty summit, but by then it didn't matter too, much. I was pretty sure that we could crawl up the last bit and not give up a place or creep over the 7 hour mark. Wida kept trudging up the mountain, but when we got to the top, his legs wouldn't even allow him to run downhill through the finish line. Didn't matter too much anyway, I think only my wife and kids and my dad actually saw us cross the line, so if anyone asks, we cartwheeled over the line. Final time, 6:52, well outside the sub 6 hours that I had hoped for, but not too bad given the condition and the amount of extra time we spent walking. As I have found from this event before, nothing ever goes according to plan, but importantly we made it to the finish as a team.

I only ended up having one recovery drink (read beer) straight after the race (it was about the best tasting beer I've ever had) and another at the BBQ that afternoon. After that I was so tired, I couldn't cope with another. We went home and I went to sleep around 7:30pm and didn't wake until after 7am.

Found out today that the first team (of 2) in the 100 km finished in an astonishing 12:17! (well done Sonja and Mick) and the second team (4 members) in the 100km did it in 14:12 (well done power of 4). So despite the warm conditions out there, there were some extraordinary results. I also heard from my mate Babette that her and her daughter finished in 8:10 for 4th place and first all-girl team.

Feeling very good today. Went for a 1 km jog with the kids (they're training for the SARRC kid's marathon in December) and a longish walk to the playground and back. I'd say I'm a pretty good chance to toe the line for the Blackhill Challenge in a few weeks time, I feel like running up some more hills!

Finally, thankyou Wida for partnering me for this run. It was a big ask to back up from Yurrebilla, especially with the limited training that we had together, but we ended up doing very well. I hope I haven't made the same impression on you as I made on Babette (her daughter knows me as the one who nearly killed her mum), and we can make it an SA CR team for the 100 km next year.

2 comments:

Bay said...

Wow Dave, congratulations and nice run!

Now I understand why you're not coming out in the morning!

Tesso said...

OMG ... you've gone to the dark side!