Race Review: Peaks & Trails 26km

One of the first things I do in race week is to look at the weather prediction.

This gives me an idea of what to wear and pack on race day.

Things were not looking good for this year’s Peaks & Trails.  With a high possibility of rain and strong winds, race conditions were going to be a far contrast from the year prior.

Mandatory gear was going to be required, but I was ready, rain hail or shine, I was going to run this event regardless. In the worst-case scenario, I would have been happy to finish in 3h 30m.

We stayed overnight in Halls Gap, to make the trip down quicker, the weather was atrocious. It was blowing a gale, and the rain, well let’s just say it was sideways.

Race morning it wasn’t fairing any better. Tom kept telling me “The more it rains now, the less it will rain later.”  Yes, that WASN’T HELPING.

With an axe in the car, it was a quiet drive down to Dunkeld. Luckily no fallen trees, or kangaroos.

As we edged closer to Dunkeld, things were starting to clear up.  Hopefully, the weather was going to hold off.

Once at race central, I collected my bib, caught up with some running friends, and made a dash to the loo before the event started.

It was fantastic to see how much this event has grown from its humble beginnings, it’s definitely become a must-do event amongst the trail running community.

While it was a cold start, I shouldn’t have worn my jacket or my headband.

Next time I will just suck it up. I ended up wearing them for only 3km before they both came off.  The gloves, however, I’m so glad I had.  I had them on for 70% of the run.

The first 5km run through farmland, before a short elevation climb that takes you around the boundary of Mt Sturgeon.

With all the rain it was muddy.  I was glad that I wore leggings and my Trail Gaiters (which I had made a slight modification to the night before). There was no avoiding the muddy puddles.

Just after the 10km mark, the course splits.  Those doing the 22km course would turn off right while those running the 26km would begin the ascent up to Mt Sturgeon.

The rule was, if you saw a runner coming down you gave way.  Fair enough, they have speed on their side.

Having trained on similar terrain with Boronia Peak I was feeling strong throughout my climb up the mountain.

At the top, I had my name signed off, took some photo and started my descent down, giving words of encouragement to all those still making their way up.

Last year I remember after finishing Mt Sturgeon I felt exhausted.  This year I was feeling great. 

I only have to look at the photo that Tom took to see that I look comfortable and more importantly happy.

The next challenge was the Piccaninny.

Passing the aid station, the climb up to the Piccaninny is a lot smoother since they upgraded the track.  A combination of fast hiking and slow walking to help preserve energy and I made it to the top with a smile on my dial.

While all the hard work with mountain climbing was done, the race wasn’t over.  With 10km left to run, I knew I would still be out there for another hour at least.

I picked up my pace on the downhill but didn’t push it.  Took a couple of sprays of my magnesium spray to help prevent the stitch, but just enjoyed the run.

Coming down the rifle range you see the back of the Piccaninny and Mt Sturgeon, running through native grasses and black boys, you are immersed in nature.

The 22km mark brings you through the Mt Sturgeon / Piccaninny aid station again.

I grabbed a banana and a few lollies and walked and ate for a bit of recovery.

Things were tracking well.  A quick look at my watch and according to my mental math I was going to finish in at least 3h20. Roughly the same time as last year.

Following the ridge line of Mt Sturgeon, we went through some spectacular muddy grazing farm sections.  There was no point going around, it was wet from all the rain we had the night prior.

I remember last year it was around this point I was feeling pretty emotional.  I was a bit overwhelmed by it all. This year, while tired, I felt strong.

This year, while tired, I felt strong. I was prepared and ready.

Crossing the line in 31st (overall) place, in a time of 3h15m58s.

Smashed my 2016 time by 3 minutes.

Needless to say, I’m really happy with that and ready to tackle my next event.

Leg 3 of Surf Coast Century on September 9th.

Top – Puma Long Sleeve Thermal, & I/O Merino singlet (underneath)
Bottom – Gore wind & waterproof thermals
Socks – Injinji
Gloves – The active
Underwear – Bonds & sixty4
Hat – 2016 P&T finishes hat
Shoes – New Balance Hierro
VestUltrAspire Astral
Fuel – Tailwind Blueberry
WatchPolar M430

6 thoughts on “Race Review: Peaks & Trails 26km”

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