Event: Peaks and Trails
Date: 3-4 August 2019
Type: Off Road
Distance: 6.4km, 11km, 22km, 26km, 50km & Mt Abrupt Challenge
Where: Dunkeld, Southern Grampians, Victoria
Event Partners/Sponsors: Steigen, VFuel, AGL, The Running Company, Royal Mail Hotel
When your husband designs the website and agrees to be one of the photographers you get a free entry.
I mean hello free entry, of course, you will enter.
Entering this event, I knew I would not be racing it. I would simply sit at the back of the back, and run my own race. The training plan had 4 hours on the cards. My goal 3:30 as I would be running under race conditions and I was also taking the elevation into account.
Arriving in darkness, Tom dropped me off and I meandered my way over to the event hub while he drove off to his photography location to capture the 50km runners.
Huddling in front of one of the fires to keep warm, I watch the 50kers start, while I just waited and watch runners arriving for the next event, the 26k.
Compared to my 30km event just weeks prior at the You Yangs, my mental headspace and emotions were more in line with the traditional pre-race nerves.
After collecting my bib, checking in my bag, and a good chat with some other runners, I did a quick running warm-up followed by some running drills.
The call was made for the 26k runners to make their way to start line. Hanging out the back, I decided this is where I was going to be, and if that meant that I was dead last, so be it.
It becomes a different type of race when you hang out at the back. You become more aware of your surroundings and you definitely enjoy the scene much more.
Watching the fast runners disappear into the landscape around you is really interesting to watch. You can’t help but think “who have gone out too hard?”
Just before hitting the first challenging hill, I passed my Tom. Needless to say, I blew him a kiss, it does, however, look like he caught me by surprise.
At the 5.5km is the first hill that can take you by surprise if you have never run this event before. You essential climb the base of Mt Sturgeon, before hugging the mountain and then heading over to the hiking track.
This year, I decided to pack my poles and using this up this climb really helped me to stay focus and supported.
Taking in some food and water, I was starting to get hot. I took off my head buff and pulled up my sleeves. I should have worn a short sleeve top. Oh well, that’s the thing with hindsight.
Having had the lead runner of the 21km fly past me, I thought to myself, gez I wish I was that fast, he honestly makes it look so easy.
One of the great things about the ascent of Sturgeon, is you get to see the lead runners on their descent from the mountain peak. They don’t even look like they have broken a sweat.
Grabbing just one pole I fast hiked my way up the mountain, passing many of those speedsters that went too hard at the start. That’s the beauty of starting at the back of the pack you watch those who speed unravels.
On my descent, I passed one of my fellow running friends Jess. She doesn’t feel confident on downhills, while I, on the other hand, find it one of my strong suits.
Arriving at the bottom, I took in fuel at the aid station and was so ecstatic to discover they had witchetty grub lollies. They are kind of like a cross between a milk bottle/banana lolly/strawberry & cream, but WAY better. You won’t find them in any commercial supermarket, and will only ever find them in specialized lolly shops. Needless to say, I took a handful and went on my merry way.
With my belly full of grubs the poles came out again, and I fast hiked my way up the Piccaninny. Just before arriving at the checkpoint a runner making her way down said to me “poles, now why didn’t I think of that, I could have so used them”. And that is exactly why I brought them.
I kid you know, when I arrived at the aid station and turn off point for the 50k runners, I was offered a shot of whiskey! Yeah no thanks, but that didn’t stop the runner in front of me taking one. Hey, you only live once, and it sure makes for one heck of a story.
The chunk of the course and elevation were done, but with 8km to go, anything can happen. While I had passed numerous runners, I was also getting past (I think by 22k entrants).
One of my poles came out of it’s holding. Luckily I heard it and stopped to pick it up. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the only thing I dropped and had to spend the time backtracking. Not ideal but if I take in, I take it out.
Headphone in, I listened to music to get me through the rest of the course.
When I passed Tom, I dumped my poles and a few other things with him. I noticed the instant weight difference in the pack.
I could feel the beginnings of a headache forming, and even though I was taking on fluid, I knew that this one was forming from me being too hot.
Now down in the meadows, I knew I wasn’t far from the end. Jess & I ran in silence for a while. Apart of me was like “I have to beat you”, the other part of me was “don’t be stupid, remember you are not racing this”. So I stopped and walked for a bit, and let her run ahead.
Yes, I could have let the competitiveness in me not let her beat me, but what point does that prove?
Crossing the last stream, the last 500m is all uphill, and my poor legs were feeling it.
Who shall pass me? Kellie Emmerson the 50km winner. So while it looks like I’m dying as I’m crossing the finish line, she looks like she hasn’t even broken a sweat.
Crossing the line in a time of 3:23 it was a course personal worst, and while I could be disappointed, I’m not. I’m actually really happy with how I ran this event. My pacing, effort, and fuelling were all on point. It’s these things will help me come September when I run my first Ultra.
Top: I/O Merino
Bra: Sport Skirts
Shoes: New Balance Hierro
Fuel: Water, Goulburn Valley, Huck Nutrition & Witchetty Grubs