Race report – Yumigo! Summer Trail Series Race 1 – Anstey Hill

This Sunday was the first race of the 4 race Yumigo! Summer Trail Series. There is a race every month from December to March, each with short and long options, and each one getting progressively longer! At the end of the series, points from each race are added up and prizes are awarded for the top 3 males and females overall in both the short and the long courses, and also the top 3 males and females in each age group.

I have only ever run a couple of races in the series. In 2015/2016 I ran Anstey Hill in December and then the final race at Newland Head in March. Last season I didn’t run any of the races (being interstate for the first 2) although I did volunteer at the last one. This summer, I plan to run 3 of the 4 races, as I will be away for January’s event (unfortunately the one that is closest to home for me!) It will mean that I miss the last 2 Gatti Triathlons, as unfortunately they clash with the last 2 races of the trail series!

This season I have decided I want to try for an overall age group placing. Both the Yumigo! summer series and the Trail Running SA winter series have series awards and I have never run enough of the races to be in contention!

I’m not sure exactly why, but I decided that this season I was going to focus on the short courses. I had always gone for the long course before, but this time around I decided that short was the way to go! Sure, I am doing a 100km trail ultra next May (and probably a 58k warmup in April) which I need to train for, but speed is still important! And how do you get speed? Well, in part, by running shorter events!

I had a great week of running in the lead-up. A fast, flat 10k on Sunday, a fastish hilly 11k on Wednesday and a fast flat 10k on Thursday. No trails, and not a whole lot in the way of hills, but I was very happy with my pace!

On Saturday I decided to make the trip down to Victor Harbor for parkrun, a nice change of scenery, and I picked a great day for it too. It was my 10th Victor parkrun (and the 7th time I’d driven down on the day to run it) and probably the best conditions I’d ever run there. Sunny, mild, and very little wind! I ran it with Simon, who was taking it really easy (hence the reason I was able to run with him) and we chatted the whole way about triathlons, as he was doing his first one on Sunday. It worked out well for me too, because I was able to run at a relatively fast pace, but slower than I otherwise would have, and I really needed to save my legs for Sunday!

I hadn’t really thought about what I was going to wear. I gave myself an hour to get ready in the morning, so that gave me time to decide what to wear and change my mind once or twice. It was an early start, 7:30 for both the short and the long course, so I was up at 5:30.

I ended up going with pretty much the same kit as I wore for Heysen. That was a good omen, as Heysen had gone pretty well! The only real difference was that instead of wearing my large race vest, I went with the smaller one. I probably could have managed without a vest altogether, given that the short course was supposedly only 8.5km, but it was going to be a relatively warm morning, and I wanted to have drinks on hand so I didn’t have any need to stop at the aid stations. This event was going to be all about speed! I had 2 x 250ml bottles of Gatorade in the front pockets, and the only other things I had in there was a nut bar (left over from the last time I’d used that vest!) and a snake bandage (which most likely would not be required, but it’s always good to have on hand!)

Even though it was relatively warm, my outfit was looking a little bit bland with the blue Mekong ‘Vegan Beast Mode’ top, black skirt and calf sleeves, and white hat. So I put my rainbow arm warmers on, just on my wrists, just to add a bit of colour!

As I got in the car ready to head up there, I got a text from Beck asking if race day entries would be accepted. The official word was ‘no’ but at a previous race, when I was on the registration desk, I had taken a late entry literally as everyone was lining up at the start! (And he ended up getting a placing!) She had always intended to enter, but just didn’t get around to it!

As always at these events, there were a lot of familiar faces, including the Adelaide Running Paparazzi (aka Gary) who ensured there were at least a few pics for me to use in this race report (my phone memory is almost full so I hardly have any room for any more photos!). Beck was there too, and managed to sign up with no issues.

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With Gary just before the start. Gary was also doing the short course!
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Good to go!

Given that we all started at the same time (short and long course) I didn’t quite know who I was ‘competing’ against! As a relatively late entrant, my bib number was in the 1000s. Theoretically the long course runners had the lower numbers and the short course runners the higher ones, but the late entrants were a mystery! I kind of assumed that the more elite runners would be doing the long course (another reason why I was doing the short course!) but I saw Jenny at the start and she was doing the short course. Other than Jenny and Beck, I wasn’t sure which other females were in the short course. Jenny I had met at this very event 2 years ago – on that occasion I had finished ahead of her, but that feat was unlikely to be repeated – she has certainly gone on to bigger and better things since then!

The race started with a little 500m loop around the start/finish area – I wonder if that was to try to spread the field out a bit before we hit the single track? It was a new course this year, significantly different from when I had run it 2 years ago.

Just over 1km in, we hit the first steep uphill bit. Almost 1km straight up, before we’d even got warmed up! New course designer Justin loves his hills!

Not long after we’d gotten over the first hill, we had another (shorter) uphill section and then it flattened out a bit.

Early on in the race we were on single track, making it difficult for anyone to pass. It wasn’t really an issue for me, I was quite comfortable sitting where I was sitting! I could sense at times people ‘breathing down my neck’ but I figured if they wanted to get past they would either call out, or wait until we reached a wider section of track and just go. I would have let them past if they’d asked (unless they were a female, especially one aged 40-44, in which case it would have been elbows out!) (That was a joke by the way!)

Early on in the race I was running alongside Cliff and his 10 year old son Sam, who were doing the long course. They were not racing, said Cliff, just taking it easy. I’d like to see their ‘racing’ because not long after our little chat, I couldn’t see them anymore! Which was particularly impressive as Sam was wearing a fluoro orange cap that was hard to miss!

Another familiar face I saw at the start was Adam, with whom I’d shared most of the Heysen 35k (actually, come to think of it, probably the last trail run I did!). He was just ahead of me for about the first half of the race, every time I got close we’d hit an uphill and I’m not so good on the uphills (but getting better!). Eventually I caught up with him, and in the approximately 30 seconds we were running together, I stepped on a rock and nearly rolled an ankle. After our little navigational mishap at Heysen I decided that us running together was a bad idea so I wished him all the best and went on my way!

Around the same time (before or after, who knows?) I was on a single track section, kicked a rock and was nearly sent flying, but managed to catch myself. I heard a voice behind me, I recognised it as Uli (not quite sure what he was doing behind me!) and called out “See, that’s why you don’t want to run right behind me!” Pretty soon after this he passed me on a wider section. He (like Adam) was of course doing the 14km. He said he wouldn’t tell anyone about my little almost-stack but really, if I didn’t mention this, I wouldn’t have much to write about in my blog! Races where everything goes perfectly don’t make for particularly interesting race reports!

Another familiar face out there was Claire, one of the Trail Running SA committee and a very good trail runner, especially going up hills (which I may have mentioned is not my forte!) I passed her early, then she effortlessly passed me going up a hill. She wasn’t carrying any hydration so I kind of assumed she was in the 8.5km, but when I did eventually catch up with her I found out she was doing the long course!

I was pleased that I was able to run most of the course. I walked a little bit on the early hill (only because I could see EVERYONE in sight ahead of me was also walking, so I figured it was OK!) and then towards the end I walked a couple of times, firstly on what I believe was the steepest part, up the bricks, approximately a 15 degree gradient. Amazingly a guy, who I didn’t know, who I had passed not long before this, passed me, RUNNING up the bricks! (It was kind of like Ambers Ridge in Yurrebilla 2016). After about the first half of the bricks I moved across to the left hand side of the bricks and was able to resume running, as it was not quite so steep.

Just after this, at the 7.5km mark, the short and long courses split. Up until then, we were all running together. Now I would know for sure who I was ‘competing’ against! (I made sure I followed the right path, as the long course runners would soon go up a hill known as ‘Torture Hill’. I had no desire to go up ‘Torture Hill’ – I’m sure it was as pleasant as it sounds – especially given that it was not part of the course I was meant to be running!) Theoretically that meant I only had 1km to go! (I didn’t know what the terrain was like though – for all I knew it could have been 1km straight uphill!)

I walked one more uphill bit after this, right near the end. I couldn’t see anyone ahead of me, and the people behind me were far enough behind that I was pretty confident they wouldn’t catch me, so I figured it was OK!

Although I was keeping an eye out for arrows and the magic red and white tape that showed that I was on the right track, I was also following people. It is helpful to make you run a bit faster – “I’ll just catch up to that person” – and of course also good to know you’re still on track! That is, assuming that the person you are following is in the race!

The last person I followed, as it turned out, was not. I recognised him, elite runner Matthew Fenech, who I would never be that close to if he was racing, plus he wasn’t wearing a bib. I had a quick chat to him, telling him I had been following him (to which he said he should have had a sign on his back saying “Don’t follow me!”). He said he was just trying to find the quickest way to the finish line, as a couple of his teammates were running the long course. I said that I was also trying to find the quickest way to the finish line! At this point I was sitting on about 8.2km so only had about 300m to go.

Or so I thought!

Trail race distances are notorious for not being exactly what you think they are going to be. And by this I mean they are ALWAYS longer. (Even if you don’t make an unscheduled detour!)

There was a bit more uphill, and then with the finish line in sight I commented to a marshal “This is the longest 500m I’ve ever done!” That last 500m turned out to be 1km – no wonder it felt long! My Garmin put the distance at 9km. I think that was reasonably accurate, because every kilometre there was a marker, and my watch was pretty close to the mark every kilometre! (This was probably one of the best marked courses I’ve seen – thanks to all the fantastic course markers for making it pretty much impossible to get lost!)

I crossed the line in 48:58 (according to the official provisional results) which was an average pace of 5:45 (my Strava tells me my average pace was 5:26, probably because Strava tells me I ran 9km whereas the official results are based on 8.5km). I was told as I crossed the line that I was in 4th place. I didn’t really have any expectations before the race, but when I found out I was 4th, I wondered how far off 3rd I had been?

Jenny finished 2nd and she said she hadn’t seen the 1st or 3rd place finishers (ie they were quite widely spaced apart!) I hadn’t seen anyone in front of me either, so I guessed I must have been a fair way back! Still – 4th place is not too shabby, I had gone one better than in my previous Ansteys run 2 years ago!

Just after I finished, a little kid in a race bib (he had done the newly introduced kids’ race just before we had started) came over and handed me a cup of water. A little later he gave me another one. Later again, while I was standing around chatting to a few people, he came back with a cup of Coke! “Now you’re talking!” I said to myself. “You know me well!” I said to him – nothing beats a Coke after a solid run!

When the presentations took place, I found out that I was about 2 and a half minutes behind 3rd, so that explained why I hadn’t seen anyone! (3rd was also in my age group so I ended up 2nd in the age group). Looking at the official results later, 5th was only 40 seconds behind me which is not much!

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Podium pic stolen from Jenny (2nd). These are the people I need to trip up in the next race! (That was a JOKE, by the way!)

So, all in all I was pretty happy with how the race went. I am extremely happy with how I’m running at the moment. It was, as always, a fantastic event all around and great to catch up with so many running friends!

Thanks to Race Director Ben for putting on another brilliant event (I am seriously going to get RSI from typing that phrase so many times, but it’s true!) and to all the wonderful volunteers for making it possible for me to run it! Thanks also to Justin for designing a very enjoyable and challenging course!

 

And thanks to all the fantastic people who were out there running both the short and the long course (I loved how we all ran together for most of it!), it’s always a great, friendly, community vibe, and everyone is so supportive of each other!

Looking forward to the next one!

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Obligatory Strava pic with Beck afterwards – both very happy with how we went!

I’ll ‘tri’ anything once!

So it happened. I entered my first triathlon! (Spoiler alert – I am now officially a triathlete!)

It’s something that has been on the cards for a while. I’m not sure exactly when I decided I wanted to do a triathlon, but it was late 2015 when Nat first gave me lessons in riding a road bike and using cleats, and when I first started going swimming semi-regularly (I had been a swimmer in the past, not a particularly fast one but a competent one, but I just found it incredibly boring so I gave it up and didn’t start again for many years!

That year, 2015, I competed in my first multisport event, the Sam White Memorial Aquathlons, at Glenelg just after Christmas. As a first timer, I opted for the short course (250m ocean swim and 1.7km run). There was also a medium and a long course (2 times and 3 times the short course). I managed to win my age group and also 10 passes to the local swimming centre which made it a pretty worthwhile exercise!

Then, a few months ago, not long after I finally got myself a bike, I did my first duathlon (run/bike/run) which you can read about here. (Another age group win – probably helped by the fact I was the only one in my age group!)

Now I had a bike, I had decided that this summer I was going to bite the bullet and get that first tri done. The Gatti series was a perfect choice – not far from home, and catering to a wide range of abilities. There were several distance options ranging from the Mini (100m swim/6.5km bike/1k run) to the Challenge (800m swim/26k bike/6k run). For my first one, I decided on the Tinman (300m swim/19.5k bike/3k run). The Mini was a little bit too short – I suspected my transitions would take longer than the actual swim/bike/run bits! And the Challenge was a bit too long – especially 800m in open water. I was pretty confident I could swim that far but I’d never swum more than about 400 in open water.

Because I wanted to look like a triathlete, at least until I got into the water and started to swim, I bought myself a tri suit online. I went with a 2XU one, I got it cheap and I knew the 2XU sizing from other stuff I have. It took a bit longer to arrive than I’d hoped, not arriving until the Monday before the race. I wanted to swim, ride and run in in before the day.

After my Glenelg Classic race on Sunday, I met up with Karen and Daryl, who were doing a long bike ride, for coffee. I also casually mentioned Sunday’s triathlon to Karen and said “You wouldn’t be interested in joining me for the triathlon on Sunday, by any chance?” Now she will probably tell the story differently but I can assure you there was no arm twisting. Let’s just say she required minimal convincing! (I hadn’t even entered by this stage!) We’d decided to keep it relatively quiet (ie not broadcasting on Facebook) but by Sunday evening we’d both entered and it was all over Facebook! (Hint: it wasn’t me who posted it!)

On Monday, which was quite a hot one, I went out to my usual cycling haunt, Victoria Park. Unfortunately my usual track was blocked off with a equestrian event being set up, so I had to ride a shorter loop (and consequently a lot more laps!). I’d opted to put a T-shirt on over my tri suit – the tri suit is sleeveless and I didn’t want to have to put sunscreen on my shoulders. I would of course do that on race day! I’m not sure if I would have wanted to ride much further without extra padding in the shorts, but 20k was relatively comfortable. I then racked my bike (by ‘racked’ I mean I took the front wheel off and locked it up in my car) and changed my shoes before setting off for a 3k run. Although it was quite hot, the tri suit was still relatively comfortable. I’d also gone with different shoes to normal – I had an old pair of Asics which I never run in anymore but they have the advantage of being really easy to slip into. For 3k it wouldn’t matter too much that they were no good for my feet! I’d also put elastic laces in them to further speed up transition. I calculated I did the transition in about 3 minutes which I was pretty happy with. All up, from the start of the bike leg to the end of the run leg, it took me 65 minutes. So, based on that, plus maybe 10 minutes for the swim, and add on another 5 minutes, I should be able to finish the triathlon in under 1 hour 20. It didn’t really matter, but I like to have some kind of rough idea going into an event!

I then had to fit in a swim somewhere. I needed to swim in the lake or the ocean – apparently chlorine is not particularly kind to the kind of fabric tri suits are made of! I decided to swim in the lake because that was where I’d have to swim on race day! Plus, there had been a shark sighting earlier that day. No sharks in the lake! Plenty of jellyfish, but no sharks!

Wednesday afternoon I headed to West Lakes only to find NOT ANOTHER SOUL there! I went in anyway, and did 2 laps around the buoys which I worked out would be probably around 400m. I touched 2 jellyfish! I had new goggles as I’d had issues with my previous ones leaking. However, I wasn’t particularly keen to see what was underwater so I pretty much swam the whole thing with my head out of the water (but still swimming freestyle, sort of!) The tri suit felt quite comfortable to swim in, so I was happy that it would work for the triathlon!

Thursday was a regular running day, and at post-run coffee I picked the brains of 2 experienced triathletes, Neil and Sarah, wanting to get some last-minute tips. Sarah mentioned something about not swimming in West Lakes after it had been raining, adding “do you know that rule?” Err, no, I didn’t know that rule. And it HAD been raining! Maybe that’s why there was no-one else there!

Friday was another running day, I had a particularly good hills run. (I wasn’t bothered about ‘tapering’ for this event – I didn’t have any time goals, and regardless of how much running I did, I knew I was going to be able to manage the 3k run relatively comfortably.) I then went to work and proceeded to fall up the stairs, landing quite heavily on my right knee (for the anatomically minded, right on the tibial tuberosity!)

On Saturday I went out to Mawson Lakes parkrun, I had no issues with the run, there was a bit of bruising on the knee but it didn’t impede my running at all.

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Practising my finish line race face!

Then I got home and got all my kit organised for the big race – there’s quite a bit more involved in prepping for a triathlon than for a running event!

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I had a list as usual but it was a very different list! This was the basics, there were more items added later. Including my Garmin which I may as well have not had…
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Must. Not. Forget. Bike. (Cat optional!)

Sunday morning was an early start. I got up at 5:30, leaving home at 6:15 to be at West Lakes by 7. Registration was from 6:45 to 7:45 and as a complete n00b I wanted to give myself plenty of time!

After collecting my race number and yellow swim cap, I headed over to the bike compound to rack my bike. I had to try to find a spot where I would easily be able to find my bike! In the end I went with row 7 (thinking ‘lucky 7’) and as it turned out, Karen and Ros had the same idea! I’d first met Ros at the very first South Australian parkrun, way back in December 2012, and she was the person who put the idea in my head that I wanted to do a marathon one day! Ros was doing her first Tinman, but was a ‘veteran’ of a number of shorter triathlons. Her husband Roger was her support crew and ‘official’ photographer!

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All racked and ready! Not sure why I bothered with the drink bottles mind you. If I tried to grab one while cycling, I’d probably fall off!

Running buddy and Ironman finisher Sarah, doing her first triathlon since having a baby, came over to make sure I was all sorted!

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The bike racks started to fill up. The sky was blue, the lake was calm.

There were quite a few familiar faces there, most of them doing the Challenge (Karen, Belinda, Sarah, Luke, Rob and Matt) and also our regular running buddy Neil doing the little-known ‘Swim and Spin’ – essentially the Challenge distance tri but without the run! In the Tinman, other than Karen and Ros was Naomi who I’d met at a few running events over the years!

Most people opted to get into the lake before the start of the event, to acclimatise to the water temperature. Many were wearing wetsuits. Probably not so much in the Tinman and the Mini, but certainly in the Challenge most people seemed to be in wetties. I had opted not to wear a wetty, firstly because I don’t have one, secondly because I didn’t think it would make a significant difference to my 300m swim, and thirdly because I was sure any potential gains in the swim would be lost in transition!

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The competitors brave the water!
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It wasn’t actually that bad! (And where is my right hand?) Thanks to Roger for this photo!

Pretty soon we were all called out of the water for a race briefing. The director explained the course for the swim, bike and run, and I tried to take it in, but I figured I’d always have someone to follow!

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With fellow Tinman virgins Karen and Ros before the start!

The Mini competitors went first, followed closely by the Tinmen (is that what we are?)

I had my Garmin all set up in Multisport mode so all I had to do was press ‘Start’ as we crossed the mat to start the swim leg.

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And we’re away! I possibly should have had my goggles on before this, judging by everyone around me! Thanks to Roger for the photo!

 

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Into the drink! That’s Karen in the fluoro yellow! Thanks again to Roger!

Although it was really quite slow, I was really happy with how the swim went. It was essentially three-quarters of a square – straight out, around one buoy, across to another, and then straight back to shore. I didn’t get kicked, I didn’t kick anyone, and miraculously I even passed a few people! I felt very comfortable throughout. I probably could have gone faster, but as it was my first triathlon, the last thing I wanted to do was burn myself out on the swim! A lot of people had told me that they often panic in the swim and can’t get their breathing right, but I didn’t have any such issues. And I didn’t end up drinking too much of the lake so I’m counting that as a win!

There were a lot of people doing breaststroke which was my Plan B but I had been swimming freestyle exclusively for the past few years. I’m sure I can swim breaststroke faster than I can swim freestyle at the moment, and the added bonus of being able to look straight ahead AND breathe, made it quite a tempting option, but I was determined to stick with freestyle which is what I did. Again, as I didn’t really want to see what was down there, I didn’t actually open my eyes underwater, and I did have my head out a lot of the time (mainly to see where I was going!), but technically it was still freestyle! (Apparently someone was even doing backstroke! I didn’t see it, but I thought that was pretty brave!)

The hardest bit was the swim into shore, because we were looking RIGHT into the sun! Even though my gogs are very darkly tinted (a godsend in this case!) I still had trouble seeing the yellow caps in front of me! I saw people start to run while I was still swimming, and I remembered 2 pieces of advice I’d been given. First, start kicking with about 20-30m to go. Then your legs won’t be so jelly-like when you get out of the water. I don’t normally kick when I’m swimming freestyle, but apparently that’s not particularly unusual! And that goes to show what an advantage a wetsuit, with its super buoyancy, is – your legs don’t sink when you aren’t kicking! The second piece of advice was to keep swimming until your hands touch the bottom. It’s much easier to swim than run in water! My swim time was 11:23 which was 81st out of 103 competitors overall, and 29th out of 44 females. I had a bit of work to do!

I made it to shore, and my legs felt OK. I pulled off my cap and goggles and made my way to transition. I had never practised the swim to bike transition, and had no idea how long it would take. I had my towel laid out so I quickly dried off, mostly my feet so I wouldn’t be putting socks on wet feet. Firstly though I put on my helmet and race number, the 2 things that were made very clear at the briefing! I got my socks and bike shoes on, and was ready to roll! T1 took me 1:47, I was relatively happy with how it went, I know a lot of more experienced triathletes have their bike shoes clipped into the pedals already and just slip into the shoes as they mount the bike, so that could possibly have saved me some time or maybe caused me to stack it right in front of all the spectators – who knows? On T1 I was 51st overall and 20th female. Bit better than my swim!

Then came 3 laps, 19.5km, on the bike. On my last ride before the triathlon I’d noticed the bike was making a noise that didn’t sound right, so I’d asked Nat, from whom I’d purchased it, if she wouldn’t mind taking a look at it for me. She suggested that her son Fraser, whose bike it had been, would be better able to assess it, so I’d left it with him for a few days to take a look at. In the end it was just the bike seat was a bit loose (probably from when I’d been gradually easing the seat height up, as recommended by my cycling buddies!. When I had got the bike back on Saturday, Fraser had told me that he had adjusted the seat height so I’d need to adjust it back. As I hadn’t marked where the seat height HAD been, I had to guess a little bit. It was way too high, so I was gradually lowering it, sitting on it in my lounge room, holding onto the couch! I got it to a height that felt comfortable and I could clip in on both feet, so I guessed that would be OK. I hadn’t actually ridden it since I’d adjusted it, though.

My biggest concern with the whole triathlon, and one that I pretty much didn’t have any control over, was the possibility of getting a puncture. Given the distance of the ride, and the fact that I haven’t practised changing a tube, my plan if I got a flat was to pull out. Most people I have spoken to since would have the same plan. In a longer ride, different story. I certainly don’t plan to pull out of Murray Man 2018 with a flat. (Did I just say Murray Man 2018?)

So I ran the bike to the ‘mount’ line and hopped on board. The seat height seemed OK. It took me a little while to clip in (maybe 100 or 200 metres?) but once I was in it was all plain sailing. And there was no more of that noise – the only time the bike made any noise was when I stopped pedalling, for example to go around a tight corner and especially if there were other riders coming up behind me.

The ride was a surprise! I felt entirely comfortable throughout, I managed to overtake a lot of people, and going around corners was made SO much easier by being clipped in. I did use my brakes on one or two corners, but compared to when I did the duathlon in running shoes, well there was no comparison.

I did not use gears. I have mastered the cleats – gears are the next lesson!

I did see quite a few forlorn figures walking up the road with their bikes. Clearly they had the same ‘Plan B’ as me!

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Thanks to Roger for this pic on the bike leg (and yes I know my seat is still too low – I’m working on it!)

With some relief that I hadn’t gotten a puncture, I completed the ride and ran back into the bike compound to rack my bike and get ready for what I always expected to be my strongest leg, the run. I had completed the bike leg in 40:57, which was actually the fastest ride (other than short sprints of course!) that I’d ever done! So that was a pleasant surprise when I found that out! I was 67th overall on the bike leg, and 19th female.

T2 was pretty quick, as I’d practised that one (albeit ‘racking’ my bike in the car, which would presumably take longer than racking it on an actual rack!) – I got through it in 48 seconds but I did have a few false starts putting the bike on the rack, so I can still improve on that! I was 47th overall on T2 and 19th female. All I had to do after racking the bike was swap helmet for cap (I didn’t want to be ‘that’ person who started their run still wearing their helmet!) and bike shoes for running shoes. I noticed quite a few people riding in running shoes, which would have made their transitions much quicker than mine, but unlike wearing a wetsuit in the swim, I knew that wearing bike shoes on the ride would make me much quicker on the bike, and more than make up for the slightly slower transition. The elastic laces on my running shoes helped a lot! I did somehow get a rock in one of my running shoes in the process, which did not make for a particularly comfortable run, however with it being only 3k AND my best leg, I pressed on regardless. I heard occasional running buddy and very accomplished triathlete Piet praise my transition! I was pretty happy with it myself!

As I pressed the ‘lap’ button on my watch for the last time, I realised that I hadn’t actually pressed ‘Start’! (Well I HAD pressed it, but obviously not hard enough!) So I went into the run with no way of knowing how far I had to go!

Running off the bike is always hard. I had practised this a number of times. But it’s hard for everyone, so despite my legs feeling a bit like jelly, I still managed to pass a lot of people on the run.

Because the last part of the run leg was the same route as the bike route, which I’d ridden three times, I was aware when I was getting closeish to the finish line. It certainly felt like a long 3km!

And then there it was, the last turn, and I could see the finishing arch! I saw Shelley and Piet who had come down to watch (Piet has been trying to talk me into triathlon for years, and later told me he thought it wasn’t my first triathlon, he said I looked like I knew what I was doing!) and with a huge smile I ran, arms aloft, through the finishing arch!

I AM A TRIATHLETE!

I had completed the run in 13:32 which was an average pace of 4:31 per kilometre. My 5k race the previous weekend was 4:30! So given that I’d swum and ridden before that, I had to be pretty happy! (It definitely did not feel that fast!) My run split was 18th overall and 4th out of the females. It was a great way to finish!

First things first, I took off my shoes and socks – stupid rock!

Then Justin, who had been down there all morning taking videos of Karen and myself to capture this epic moment, stuck a camera in my face, I gave the thumbs up, thinking he was taking a photo and then he started interviewing me! Luckily I didn’t swear! He later put together a bit of a compilation video as a memento of the day, which was really great – thanks Justin!

It wasn’t long before Ros crossed the line to complete her first Tinman (and also win her age group – well done Ros!)

Then we were all waiting for Karen – she hadn’t been far behind Ros in finishing the bike leg. There was an out and back section in the run leg, I’d seen Ros heading out as I was heading back, but I hadn’t seen Karen. And in her fluoro tri suit, it’s not as if I could have missed her!

And before too long I spotted Karen approaching the finish line! And in true Karen style, she nearly got lost at the finish line! I’m not sure how she could have missed that HUGE YELLOW ARCHWAY but she looked like she was veering right, perhaps to follow the Challenge course and do another lap of the run course? Maybe as an ultramarathoner, 3k was just not long enough? Anyway, we all yelled out to her and she did manage to find the finish line! (And thankfully she loved the event too and is already planning her next one, otherwise I may never have heard the end of it!)

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WE ARE TRIATHLETES!!!!!

As I had pre-existing lunch plans, I wasn’t able to stay long after the event, and consequently missed the presentations. As it turned out, I kept up my tradition in multisport events and won my age group! (And before you ask, YES, there were other people in my age group!)

My overall time was 1:08:30, which doesn’t really mean a lot to me because I don’t have anything to compare it to. It was significantly faster than I was expecting, though! The swim was a little bit slower, the ride quite a bit quicker, and the run probably about what I would have expected (maybe a little bit quicker). I think I was 10th female overall which was almost certainly thanks to my run leg (and a good T2!)

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With no Garmin times, it wasn’t on Strava, so does that mean it didn’t happen? Here’s proof that it did!

So! Triathlon! I loved every minute! This definitely won’t be my last!

Things to work on for next time.

  • Pressing ‘Start’ on my Garmin.
  • Racking my bike a bit quicker.
  • Swimming a bit faster.
  • Maybe even some gear changes on the bike leg!

So for anyone who’s thinking of trying a triathlon. You don’t need to be a great swimmer, cyclist OR runner. Piet said to me at the finish line (after asking me when I’m going to join his Tri club!) that triathlon is a very inclusive sport. Which I agreed with, then adding “AND VERY EXPENSIVE!” But you don’t have to have all the latest and greatest gear. This really is an event for everyone!

Thanks to everyone involved in putting this event on, and congratulations to all participants, especially those fellow ‘triathlon virgins’! Hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did!

Race report – Glenelg Classic 2017

Ahh, the old ‘anniversary’ run! Everyone has one – the first ‘Fun Run’ they ever did. There’s always something special about running that event each year.

For those who find my race reports a bit long-winded, I’ll save you some time.

Glenelg Classic Race Report 2017.

Went out too fast.

OK for those who are still reading, I’ll elaborate a bit.

I won’t rehash all of the history of me and this event. I’ll just direct you to my report from the corresponding event last year. Read this and you’ll be up to speed!

This year I haven’t done a lot of 5k races. In fact, from memory, I think my last 5k race was way back in April, at the Clare Valley Half Marathon! That was even before Boston – seems a lifetime ago now! Other than this, I’ve had plenty of practice running 5k, doing parkrun most weeks.

A few weeks back, I ran my fastest parkrun in 18 months, at Mount Barker (I believe it to be SA’s fastest course – I’d love to hear from anyone who thinks otherwise, because if there’s a faster one, I’ll be there next weekend!) – just a touch over 22 minutes.

My major events this year have been longer distances – 100km in January, Boston Marathon in April, the 12 hour in July (another 100km) and the ‘mini Heysen’ 35k just a few weeks back. But I still think I should be able to run a fast 5!

Yesterday I decided to give the fast Mt Barker parkrun a miss – would just be too much of a temptation to try to run fast and break 22 minutes! Instead I went to Aldinga Beach, which was very similar to the Glenelg Classic course in that it was a 5k out and back along the coast. I paced it VERY conservatively – running 5:30s into the wind on the way out, and then couldn’t help myself on the way back, running 4:30s (admittedly with the wind behind me, but I definitely pushed a bit harder in that back half). I remember thinking, “this is what I need to do tomorrow” (albeit a little bit faster!)

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Me at the finish line at parkrun yesterday. For a nanosecond I contemplated trying to chase down that guy who had just passed me RIGHT before the finish line – but realised that would not have boded well for today’s race!

Today’s weather conditions could hardly have been a bigger contrast from last year’s wind-fest (and for the 10k runners, bonus sandblasting!). It was warm (warm enough for the start time to be brought forward from 9am to 8am) and there wasn’t much in the way of wind.

It seemed like there were more runners out there this year than last, which wouldn’t be surprising given the less than perfect conditions of the 2016 race! Today there were 105 runners, 67 of them female, in the 5k, all of whom finished. (I can’t confirm the number from 2016 because I can’t find the results!) Consequently I had to park further away than I remembered parking last year, but it didn’t really matter as I was there in plenty of time and a nice walk along the coast was a good way to loosen up the legs!

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The start/finish arch before the event – I’d be pretty happy to see this, second time around!

Just before the start of the 10k the start/finish arch decided it didn’t want to play, but with minutes to spare it was up again and ready!

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Bit hard to run through, that!

I had a chat with SARRC manager Cassandra who commented that since she’s been on board the weather has always been good for our events. I said that’s kind of funny because RD Ben has a reputation for bringing the WORST possible weather! So I guess they cancel each other out!

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Normally the winner is interviewed AFTER the race! Cassandra interviewing eventual 10k winner John just before the start. Beside John is second placegetter Piete! Spooky!
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Moments before the 10k runners set off!

After the 10k start I had 15 minutes to get ready for my start, so I went out and did the same warmup I did last year, past the marina up to the Buffalo restaurant and back. It felt pretty good!

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On my warmup run I ran past the marina and couldn’t help having a chuckle over the name of this boat – ‘SHE GOT THE HOUSE’!

I didn’t recognise any fast females at the start, actually there weren’t many people I knew in the 5k at all! (Most of the people I knew were either running the 10k, or volunteering) One familiar face was Patricia, from West Beach parkrun, who I also remembered seeing at the McLaren Vale half, wearing a particularly funky looking crop top. It stood out to me because I have the same one! And today, she was wearing it again, and I just so happened to be wearing mine!

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With Patricia, after the race!

We lined up at the start and it was a bit of a ‘surprise start’ as I was expecting “On your marks…” but one minute I was chatting with some of the other runners and all of a sudden the gun had gone off and we were away!

At the start, one girl was already ahead of me and another soon passed me, so for a fleeting moment I was in 3rd place.

The first kilometre felt OK, but when I got to the 1km mark, where one of my regular morning running buddies Trish was marshalling, my Garmin went off to tell me I’d just run 4:05 for the first kay. (This was just after Tracey had passed me to move into 3rd spot). I said hello to Trish and also that I’d done the first km WAY too fast! I’m not sure if Tracey heard me, and I don’t know if she plays mind games like I do, but if the roles were reversed and I’d heard the person I’d just passed say they were running way too fast, that would have filled me with confidence!

I’d have to say that I didn’t really enjoy my run much after that, although I did make sure I posed for official photographer (and old friend!) Tracie, both on the way out and on the way back, and Coralie snapped this pic of me as she filled the Sweeper role admirably!

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That smile is most definitely fake!

I kept Tracey and the 2nd placed girl in my sights, and on a positive note I don’t think they got much further ahead, but I didn’t seem to be making any ground, so I set my sights on holding onto 4th spot. At the 2.5km turnaround I got to see how far behind me the other runners were, and I thought I had a reasonably comfortable buffer, but I didn’t take it easy (although my split times might suggest otherwise!)

I did have thoughts in the last kilometre of trying to make a move on Tracey with a view to a sprint finish, but even though I think I made a bit of ground in the last little bit, it wasn’t enough for me to give it a really good crack.

In the back half I was greeted by Race Director Ben on his bike, not just RDing but also Lead Bike for the 10k – is there anything this guy can’t do? I did ask him for a lift but he told me I’d have to run faster to catch him! Just behind him was 10k winner John. In the last kilometre (just as I was contemplating a late push for a podium spot!) I was overtaken by 10k second placegetter Piete. (Just to put that into perspective, they’d started 15 minutes before me but run 5k more!)

Once I’d established that there was no way I was going to get 3rd, I had a sneaky look over my shoulder to see if there was anyone breathing down my neck. I couldn’t see anyone, so I took my foot off the pedal a little bit. It was pretty hot out there, and whatever I did now wasn’t going to change my placing, so I figured there wasn’t any point in busting my arse!

In the end I finished in just under 22:33 which was 9 seconds SLOWER than last year! Yes, it was quite hot today but I would have expected to beat last year’s time given how challenging those conditions were.

In the end Tracey ran just under 21:50 to take third place. To beat her I would have had to run my fastest time in 18 months. Could I have done that if I’d paced better? Probably not! We’ll never know!

And 5th place was 25 seconds behind me, so really, 4th place was where I was meant to be this year! (Pity, because I really liked the look of those trophies!)

Annoyingly, the girl who finished in 2nd place was also in my age group!

So now in hindsight this is what I SHOULD have done. I should have run at 4:30s in the first half. Then I would have had something in the tank for the second half. And even if I’d stayed on the 4:30s and not picked up the pace, I STILL would have done a better time than I actually did. Essentially what I did (start fast and then get slower) was the OPPOSITE of what I should have done.

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How NOT to pace a 5k, by Jane. (Maybe I need to start using the pace alerts on my Garmin again!)

My 5k goal for some years has been to crack 20 minutes. I got close, way back in August 2015. It’s still a goal but since then I’ve discovered an affinity for stupid long loopy runs and also more recently I’ve rediscovered my trail legs. I am sure I can do it IF I train for it. The problem is there are so many running events that I love doing and I can’t seem to focus on one thing! (And just quietly, it’s not just running events either, but that’s a topic for a future blog post!)

After the race I sat down on the grass and stretched for a bit, at which point the physio providing the free massages asked me if I’d like to be her first ‘customer’ – an offer which I quickly accepted! She massaged the backs of my legs, gave me a few tips on exercises and stretches (which of course I knew but don’t actually do – maybe I will this time!) and then had to wring out the massage table after I sweated approximately 1 litre all over it! I really need to start getting regular massages – I know after I had one a few weeks ago from friend Wendy who is training to become a massage therapist, I had 2 of the best runs I’ve had in a long time!

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Thanks to Aspire Physiotherapy for the free massages! First time I’ve taken advantage of one, and it won’t be the last! (That’s not me by the way!)

Another great way to recover after a race is a dip in the ocean – I didn’t take advantage of that this time around but plenty of people did!

 

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The benefits of running on the coast!

Well done to all the runners in the 5k and the 10k and thanks to all the fantastic volunteers as always for making it possible for us to run! Special mention to SARRC marketing guy Harry who was up at arse o’clock (along with other SARRC staff Lee-Ann, Paul, Cassandra and Ron, to name just a few) on what happens to be his 21st birthday! Hope you had a fantastic morning Harry and enjoyed the rest of your day!

After the race was over, Lee-Ann was telling me about how they made sure every single runner was informed of the time change (from 9am to 8am). Firstly an email was sent out to all participants (as well as the information being posted on social media, which was where I first saw it, as I can be a little slack at checking emails). Then, a list was generated through the wonders of modern technology of those who had NOT opened the email. And Lee-Ann then personally texted ALL of them (over 100 I seem to recall).

The move from 9am to 8am was great for the runners but I did spare a thought for the volunteers who, as a result, had to get up an hour earlier. And they were ALREADY going to have to get up at arse o’clock! (A few people had suggested a 7am start would have been even better – sure, it would have been good for us but the volunteers – not so much!)

And congrats again to RD Ben for another great event, and I think he has well and truly made his peace with the weather gods, although he really COULD have slowed down a bit on the bike and given me that lift…

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A slightly blurry selfie with some of the regular Sunday runners – I was the only ‘sensible’ one who decided to do the 5k! 

 

 

 

Race report – Heysen 105 2017

First let’s get this out of the way. Why the 35k? Even the event briefing booklet describes the 35k (and to a lesser extent the 57k) distance as a ‘taster’ for the ‘big one’, the 105k. I’ve done the 105k twice (in 2015 and 2016) so why would I now want a ‘taster’? Surely that would be like buying a bottle of wine, drinking it, and then paying for a tasting of the same wine!

Well, actually it’s not as silly as it sounds. (The bit about the wine IS as silly as it sounds)

According to the race briefing, the 105k has about 1600m of elevation gain. (To put it in perspective, that’s less vert than the Yurrebilla 56k. Walk in the park, right?) The 35k on the other hand, has about 1000m. In other words, more than half of the overall elevation gain of the 105 is in the first 35. So it’s not exactly an ‘easy’ option!

I didn’t really want to do the 105 again. Not this year. Everything fell into place last year – I managed just under 13½ hours and I didn’t see how I could have improved on that this year.

Truth be told, the main reason I entered in 2016 was because I had ‘unfinished business’ after notoriously getting lost just after leaving Checkpoint 3, costing me a good half hour. That point has now been permanently marked with my name as a reminder – I challenge ANYONE to get lost there now!

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Justin and Vicky paying the appropriate respect to ‘Jane’s post’!

I didn’t really start training for this event until late September, so I probably wouldn’t have been prepared for the 105k or even the 57. 35 seemed like the perfect distance! Also, it would allow me to be at the finish line to see the 105k runners finish (and that promised to be quite an epic party!) and also do a bit of volunteering.

Other than my usual diet of road running, my training for the 35k consisted of 3 long trail runs, punctuated with the McLaren Vale Half Marathon. I was also doing a bit of flat cycling, mainly just to get used to the bike and the cleats in preparation for dipping my toes into the triathlon world. I’m not sure if this was a help or a hindrance!

I didn’t make it to either of the official training runs for the 35k due to other commitments. I also couldn’t be arsed driving all the way down there to do the runs by myself on another day. I’d run the 105k twice (so theoretically I had also done the 35k twice) plus I’d run the course in training runs in previous years.

My training runs were all the same. Adelaide trail runners would probably be quite familiar with this route. I would start on Waterfall Terrace, just at the end of Waterfall Gully Road, run up to the start of Chambers Gully, follow the Chambers Gully Track, Bartrill Spur Track, Long Ridge Track and Winter Track back down to Waterfall Gully Road, then run down the road, do that loop all over again, and then run back down to the coffee shop for a well earned coffee and vegan Snickers! It was around 23-24km (depending whether or not I went up to the Long Ridge Lookout) with about 700m elevation gain.

As I kept doing the same route again and again, I got better at it, including being able to RUN the whole loop on two occasions, AND, finally overcoming my fear of running down the steep bit of Winter Track just after the hairpin corner! You know THAT bit – where you have to decide whether you’d be better off faceplanting on the gravel or diving headlong into blackberry bushes. (Interestingly enough I’ve never done either of those things!) I would normally be quite hesitant here and try to almost walk down, but the first time I did the ‘double Chambers’ run, a switch must have flipped in my brain and suddenly I realised I could run straight down!

In the lead-up my last ‘proper’ run was on Tuesday, followed by a swim on Wednesday and a slightly abbreviated run on Thursday.

On Friday I went down to Myponga to mark part of the course with Kate. Kate wasn’t running in the event this year but she was going to be buddy running with SA trail running legend Kym for the last 30km. Our section was only 10km but took us well over 3 hours! The section we marked was just after Checkpoint 2, which was the finish of my race. So neither of us were going to be running ‘our’ section on the day but we still wanted to make sure it was impeccably marked! We may have been overzealous with the markers especially in the beginning, but personally I think it’s better to over-mark than under-mark. (The person who had to de-mark the section may have other ideas!)

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Just part of the beautiful section we marked!

I can highly recommend having a go at course marking if you get the opportunity. Especially on such a well-marked trail as the Heysen. Generally you do it in pairs so you can meet up at the end of your section, take one car back to the start, and then when you get to the end you have a car to drive back! Last year I marked with the experienced Tina, this year I was the ‘master’ and Kate was the very able ‘apprentice’ – it’s definitely a good idea to go out with someone who’s done it before!

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Nope. Definitely do not attempt to walk this trail. It’s truly awful! I do not recommend it!

One thing I took from last year’s experience was the idea to bring a pair of secateurs to trim back bushes that were obscuring signs, and also tidy things up where they were really overgrown, to make it easier for the runners to get through!

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Kate doing a little gardening!

Before meeting up with Kate I had my first blonde moment of the weekend. I went to Myponga for a toilet stop, and while I was there got a message from Kate to say she was running late. So I decided to get myself organised and get out all the stuff I needed from the boot, including my old trail shoes which I put on the roof of the car. You can see where this is going, can’t you? Heading back down the main street I noticed a shoe in my rear window. That was weird! Then I remembered! I quickly pulled over and found just the one shoe, so I turned around and went back towards the toilets, sure enough there was my other shoe right in the middle of the road! Fortunately it hadn’t been run over! I wasn’t too bothered about the shoes themselves – they were retired, and I had brand new ones to run Heysen in, but I DID need the orthotics that were inside, and I DID need the shoes to do the course marking – I don’t think my pink Birkenstock sandals would have cut it, somehow!

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The 45km sign that marked the end of our section. It wasn’t until we got to the end, where my car was parked, that I realised we could have left this sign in my car rather than Kate having to carry it the whole 10k!

Because we took so much longer than I’d anticipated to mark the course, it was a bit of a rush to get back to Adelaide, run a few errands, gather up all my stuff I needed for the next few days, and drive back down south to Victor Harbor where I’d be spending the night. It also meant that one of the items on my list, a trip to the Bakery On O’Connell for vegan chocolate donuts, unfortunately didn’t happen! I always feel like I’m organised, even when I’m really not, if I have a list to work from. It helped that I had done the 105 twice before, so I had my list from last year as a guide!

Friday night was a vegan pasta carb loading feast at Simon and Clo’s place, around 10 minutes from the start line. They had kindly invited a lot of running friends to come for the feast and stay the night if we wanted! For me, even though my first port of call on race day would be my finish line at Myponga, from Victor it would be about a 25 minute drive versus just over an hour, so it was well worth it!

At dinner were fellow Heysen runners Sam, a Victor local doing her first 100k and Tyler, last year’s 57k winner back to do it again. Volunteers Tania (also Tyler’s mum) and Liam were also there for the dinner, and super volunteer Tracey popped in for a while before heading down to camp at the start line. I had to hold myself back from going crazy with the pasta (and falafel, and hummus, and Sam’s bliss balls, and Tracey’s raw carrot cake, and the rest!!!) as I had to remind myself I was ‘only’ doing the 35k!

I put the cushions from the couch on the floor, set my alarm for 4am and had a very comfortable night’s sleep, under the watchful eye of Whiskers the cat! To be woken by a cat sniffing my face was nothing new for me – I felt quite at home! I woke naturally just after 3:30, then closed my eyes for a bit and when it was 3:45 I decided I might as well get up and start the day – I had to leave around 4:45 to get to Myponga.

My outfit for the day was a bit of old and a bit of new. Starting from the bottom, I had my new trail shoes which I’d christened on last Sunday’s trail run, and old white Nike socks (I prefer black for the trails but my only pair of black Nike socks had a hole in them and I hadn’t been able to find a replacement pair) and black calf sleeves. I’d gone with a black skirt over black compression shorts, and I forgot to bring my usual running undies (because they weren’t on the list!) but luckily I had a spare pair that would hopefully do the trick. On top I had a BRAND NEW TOP which I had only received on Friday night, a very awesome ‘Vegan Beast Mode’ top which was organised by Simon and made by Mekong Athletic, the clothing company started by Simon’s brother Ben and his partner Dai. I love their stuff – and the fabric on this top in particular was so luxurious! (I’m not sure if I would have run the 105 in a brand new top but I figured I was pretty safe in the 35k. In previous years doing the 105 I’ve changed tops at the 57k mark anyway so I’ve never ever worn the same top for a whole 100k) I also had my rainbow arm warmers, cycling gloves (to protect my hands from electric fences, barbed wire fences and possible falls!), a hat, sunnies and a buff around my neck (mostly to pull up over my nose and mouth while running on a gravel road if a car went past).

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Mandatory start line selfie!

I had originally planned to wear a different outfit, similar to my Boston outfit, until I found out that the Vegan Beast Mode tops would be ready! I brought the original outfit with me anyway and showed both outfits to Tania at the dinner to see what she thought. Tania immediately chose the new top with the black skirt. So if there were any issues with the new top I had someone to blame!

After brekky and getting my gear together (I’d done most of it the night before) I was out the door just before 4:45 and off to Myponga for the bus.

In my pack I had: 2 bottles of Gatorade, 2 extra scoops of Gatorade for a possible refill, 2 nut bars cut into pieces, 2 Clif bars, a Zip loc bag of sweet potato chips, one peanut butter sandwich (in quarters) and one chocolate spread sandwich (in quarters). I wasn’t anticipating needing anywhere this much food but I always like to have a variety of flavours and textures, plus I would want something to chow down on after I’d finished! Mandatory gear-wise we had a lot of the same stuff as the 105k and 57k people, only we didn’t need hi-viz vests and head torches!

Given that the first checkpoint where we could have drop bags was at CP2 (our finish line) I would have to carry all my stuff on me. As my car would be at CP2 I didn’t bother with a drop bag, I just left everything in my car that I would need afterwards. As the weather forecast was for a relatively mild morning, I was hoping not to have to stop at CP1 at all – the only reason would be to refill my bottles, but if (as I expected) I didn’t drink much in the first half of the race, I’d have enough on board to get me through to the end. As I was hoping to be done under 4 hours, I hopefully wouldn’t even need to reapply my sunscreen (but I did have it in my pack just in case).

I hadn’t looked at the 35k start list. It was the same last year with the 105 and also this year with the 12 hour. I prefer not to know who else is on the list! Whatever plan I have is based on me running my own race, and knowing who else is out there shouldn’t change that.

It was only a small busload of people leaving from CP2 – familiar faces Dione and Toni, Tim and Adam, and one other guy (Kevin) who I hadn’t met before.

The bus called in to Victor Harbor for a toilet stop, as there were no toilets at the start line. (This is a very important piece of information for people running in this event, particularly those who are getting dropped at the start rather than catching the bus. THERE ARE NO TOILETS AT THE START LINE. Make sure you stop off on the way!)

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Victor Harbor at arse o’clock!

We arrived at the start line in time to see the 6am 105k runners head off, and I had enough time to collect my race number and mandatory map (as if I was even going to refer to that – I had the offline maps app on my phone which I would be far more likely to use), sneak into the bushes for a last minute pit stop, and at the very last minute put sunscreen on while Race Director Ben was giving the briefing.

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Snapped by Glen doing my sunscreen!

On the start line, other than those I’d seen on the bus, were familiar faces Luis, Atsushi, Laura, Candice, Marlize and Lauren. Lauren had won the 35k last year and Marlize had won the first 6 hour event that I did. There were quite a few people there that I didn’t know, but I could safely say that 3rd place would be the best I could hope for!

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Ready to go! Thanks to Ziad for this pic!

 

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Just minutes before the start!

Right on time at 6:30 we set off. Luis, Atsushi, Tim, Marlize and Lauren were off like a shot, and I ran briefly chatting with Candice and said “My race plan is NOT to try to stick with those people in front”. I didn’t see most of them again until after I’d finished!

I was expecting to be mostly running on my own. I expected to pass many of the 6am 105k starters, as they were going 3 times as far as me! I expected to be passed by many of the 7am57k and 105k runners. But I wouldn’t be running WITH any of them. That didn’t bother me – I’m quite happy running on my own especially for a relatively short distance. I kept Adam in sight, I have run with him before and he’s probably just a bit quicker than me but he had just got back from a 2 week overseas trip so he was, by his own admission, a little undertrained! Also ahead of me after passing me quite early on was Derek, in hi-viz yellow so he was easy to spot!

The first people I passed were Ros and Mal, which confused me a bit as they were fellow 35k runners and I hadn’t seen them at the start! Turned out that they had started at 6, along with another group of runners who I passed shortly after. I then started to pass some of the 105k runners including Kym and Kristy, and another group including first timer Linna, also in hi-viz yellow (it seemed to be a popular colour!). Also early on I ran past Kim, who was doing the Heysen 105 for the first time, and after having had to pull out of UTA 100 last year, it would be her first 100km.

I made a decision that I was going to try to run the whole way to CP1, approximately 18km, with about 400m elevation. I figured it couldn’t be any harder than a Chambers loop!

Eventually I caught up with Adam and we ran together for quite a while. He had run the 57km last year and had been entered in the 57 again this year but after a less than ideal preparation had ‘downgraded’ to the 35. Having fully expected to be on my own for the bulk of the race, it was nice to have someone to run with for what turned out to be a fair chunk!

During one particularly long road section, I commented “I don’t remember there being this much road in this section!”. Some time later, Adam remarked “I always get nervous when I can’t see someone in front”. You can see where this is going, can’t you?

A little further down the road we saw our first and only kangaroo for the day. It was some form of consolation, as we soon found out that we were never meant to see that kangaroo. Because we were no longer on the Heysen Trail!

Luckily it wasn’t a very long road (for the record, the road is called “Roads Lane” in Inman Valley) otherwise it could have been quite disastrous! Looking at maps after the event, I am estimating it was around a 2km detour.

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If you look really closely you can see where we went wrong. (The bit to the left of the map is the run into and out of CP1 – it looks like another navigational error but it’s actually the correct way!)

We were running and chatting, and failed to notice that there were none of the distinctive red and white Heysen Trail markers on this road, nor was there any of the red and white tape flapping in the breeze, signifying that we were on course. It wasn’t until we reached the T junction with Inman Valley Road that we knew that we had ventured off the Heysen! Quickly I got out my MAPS.ME app (thankfully I had re-downloaded it, after having previously deleted it to free up space on my phone!) and could easily see we just needed to head back down Roads Lane, and we would meet up with the trail again. And as we ran, me consulting my map frequently, we were quickly approaching the missed turn off. I would guess it cost us about 10-15 minutes all up.

When we eventually found the turn off, we realised one thing that had contributed to us missing the turn. (Along with not paying enough attention, of course!) There was a big ‘X’ sign attached to a pole, signifying that Roads Lane was NOT the correct way to go. However, that part of the trail had been marked 2 days earlier, and somehow the X had swung around to the other side of the pole, so it was only visible to us when we were coming BACK from our detour! (It could also have been done deliberately, there are some people out there who do deliberately flip signs around to mess with people, but let’s give people the benefit of the doubt here!)

Anyway, we did get back on course, and fortunately it appeared that no-one else had followed us and missed the turn! (There was an earlier turn that I WOULD have missed, had there not been a group of people not far ahead of me, that I had seen turn off. Adam wasn’t with me at the time, but when I mentioned it, he said he also could easily have missed that turn!)

Despite planning to run the whole way to CP1, I did walk for a bit after that. My watch showed about 16km but I wasn’t sure at that stage how far off course we’d gone, so therefore I didn’t know how much further CP1 was!

One positive thing I can say about the whole experience, and it probably has something to do with the fact that I wasn’t alone at the time, is that I didn’t let this little ‘mishap’ ruin the rest of my race. After my notorious misadventure just past CP3 in 2015, I did lose the plot a bit and it probably cost me a sub-14 result. This time I was a little annoyed but was able to refocus my attention on the job at hand! One thing I had no idea about though, was if I was still in 3rd place. Someone could easily have slipped past unnoticed while Adam and I were on our detour!

One funny thing was when we passed people for the second time! Firstly we passed Linna and co, and then one of the Southern Running Group, Sue. On both occasions, Adam was ahead of me. When I passed Linna, I jokingly said “It was all his (Adam’s) fault!’ to which Linna replied “He said the same thing about you!”

We did eventually reach CP1. CP1 is a weird one, you have to take a right turn, run to the hall where CP1 is located, do a U-turn back to where you turned right, then turn right again. Even though I wasn’t going to stop at CP1 I still had to do this little manoeuvre, to get my name checked off at CP1. Adam made a stop here but I just went straight back out. I had a bit of ground to make up! Adam ended up catching me not long after CP1 and we ran together for probably 3/4 of the next section.

CP1-CP2 is what I believe to be the hardest section of the whole 105. Many would say CP2-3 is the hardest, being 22km between aid stations, and with some quite challenging terrain and exposed sections, but as someone who is not the greatest at uphill running, for me it’s 1-2.

I managed to run the first little bit but then I came to this section.

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Steeper than it looks! That’s Adam just in front of me, and the dot in the distance is Tyler. This was the ONLY place I took photos during the race!

 

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Looking back, while walking up the hill!

Adam was just ahead of me at this stage. This was where Tyler, leader of the 57km race, came flying past us. A little further up the hill though, I saw him walk!

And not too long after that, I was passed for the first (and as it turned out, only) time by a 105km runner. That was Dej, looking in great form after having to walk much of the 105 last year due to injury.

There was quite a bit of single track in this section. Adam was just behind me, and I kept asking him if he wanted to pass, but he said he would probably drop back a bit, and for me to go on ahead, which I did. Not long after this, I ran into Justin and Vicky, who were aiming for sub 16 hours, which would earn them a belt buckle. (The belt buckle is a relatively new concept in Heysen but it’s been around for a long time in large international ultras. Last year all the 105 finishers got a buckle, this year only the sub 16 finishers would get one, and the remainder of the finishers would get a medal). I ran and chatted with Justin for a while, and told him about my little ‘adventure’. He was the one who had put a permanent plaque with my name on it, on the pole where I had got lost in 2015, so I did hesitate to tell him the story, but I figured he’d find out eventually! There wasn’t much chance of him getting lost out there, as the organiser of the training runs this year, he knew the trail like the back of his hand!

And then came quite a lot more road as we approached CP2 and the 35k finish line! On the approach to the finish line I passed quite a few more 105k runners including Bec and first timer Cherie (who got a quick good luck hug from me, I was getting pretty excited as I knew I couldn’t have long to go! I then saw Stephan up ahead, I almost caught up with him, I got close enough for a quick chat and then I decided to walk a bit, I could see there was no-one anywhere near me that could pip me at the post, so I figured I had nothing to lose! He was still looking pretty strong at this point, although he has always been much better than me on the uphills!

Heading into the checkpoint I started to see some funny signs that were a welcome sight – I was already pretty happy given that I was almost done, but I’m sure they would have been even more welcome for the 57 and 105 runners who still had a long way to go! (They probably wouldn’t have been quite as excited as me to see the sign that said “35km runners – 1km to go!”) The signs were the work of one of the amazing volunteers at CP2, Brenton. He told me he had measured it out in his car! It was the first real indication I had had, after my detour, of just how close I was to the end!

I saw Luis and his distinctive red calf sleeves up ahead, and I tried to catch him, but he turned around, saw me, and found another gear! He later thanked me for giving him a bit of a push at the end!

And there it was – CP2! Although there was no finish ‘line’ as such, this was the end of the road for me! And what a good feeling that was! (Especially when I was told I was 3rd! Marlize was 23 minutes ahead of me, I’m sure that we didn’t lose that much time on our detour, but it might have been a little bit closer if I’d been paying attention!)

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Marlize (2nd) and me (3rd) at the presentation

The volunteers at CP2 were amazing – all dressed up in Halloween theme and happy to do anything needed for the runners! Thanks so much to Karen, Debbie, Brenton and Penny in particular – you really made me want to hang around there longer! Such a fun atmosphere!

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Best. Aid station. Ever. Pic stolen from Dione!

I had to have a laugh at one of Brenton’s signs, ‘Susan’s checklist: Eating? Drinking? Weeing?’ – this was a reference to the head first aid officer Susan at the 24 hour event who would ask the runners these 3 questions at regular intervals! Unfortunately in relation to the 3rd item on the list, there was no toilet at CP2!

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Susan would have approved of this I’m sure!

My first priority was getting my shoes off and getting my chair out of the car to sit down and watch the rest of the runners come in! Tania offered to go and get stuff out of my car for me but I said thanks but no thanks, she’d never find ANYTHING in there! So I went for a slow walk to the car, and wow did it feel good to get my shoes and socks off!

We had the presentations soon after, another piece of silverware for my collection, to go with the beautiful looking medal!

I had hardly eaten any of my food, and I always expected to have plenty of leftovers, but I think during the race itself I only had 2/3 of a nut bar, 1/3 of a Clif bar, and 1/2 a sandwich. I did drink about a litre of Gatorade, definitely not enough but I had another litre ready to go for afterwards!

I got to see a lot of the runners come through CP2 which was great. After finishing just after 10:30 I didn’t leave until about 1:00! I decided to stay and wait for Mal and Ros to finish, as there was no hurry for me to get to the finish line. In the 105 I saw the first 2 women, Bronwyn and Kazu, who were unbelievably close together – it was going to be a great race! Not far behind was regular running buddy Zorica who was smashing it!

I started to get a bit cold so I decided to do a full wardrobe change in the car. This was a bit challenging as the car was parked on James Track, and the 57 and 105k runners had to run straight past me as they left the checkpoint. So I had to time my manoeuvres in between people coming through! Particularly challenging was getting my post-race recovery compression tights on! I was halfway through putting them on when I could see Graham (doing the 57k) approaching. I quickly wound the window down and gave him some encouragement, hopefully he didn’t notice that I was only half dressed at that stage! I also saw Glen, doing the 105, and he asked me what I was doing – I told him I’d done the 35 and was now finished, he responded by (jokingly I hope!) calling me a “slack b****”!

I went over to Merrilyn, who had her own little aid station set up, waiting for husband Mal. She offered me a coffee which I gratefully accepted! Also there was Maurice (the maker of the brownies!) who was waiting for his wife Sue who was also in the 35k. Maurice also asked me “why the 35k?” I had a feeling I’d be asked that a lot! I was having absolutely no regrets about my decision, no FOMO whatsoever!

I saw Kristy and Kym, still going strong. Kristy had pulled out at this point last year so she said she would be much happier once she’d got PAST this checkpoint! Around the same time, Candice finished, she thought she had beaten her time from the 35k last year, and she needed to be reasonably speedy as she then had to go to work! Now that’s dedication!

Mal and Ros finished not far behind, as did Dione and Toni, all having had a good day out, and I then decided it was time to make a move!

Eventually I made it to the 105k finish line in Kuitpo Forest. Things were starting to take shape, with Race Director Ben and super vollies Michelle and Tracey getting things set up. Michelle and Tracey were in the middle of an incredibly long day – after having been at the start line from arse o’clock until after the last runners had set off, they then had to mark part of the last section of the course! You see, generally the course marking is done on Thursday and Friday in preparation for Saturday’s race, however Friday was a total fire ban, meaning there was no access to the forest. (It also meant that the people who had intended to camp in the forest on Friday night had to make other arrangements at the last minute). Fortunately the conditions on Saturday were ideal!

The finish line was an awesome setup, with lots of lounges and warm blankets, and little fires to gather around.

 

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What a welcome sight this must have  been for the 105k finishers!
I borrowed a tent from Tracey, and thought I’d better set that up straight away, before it started to get dark. I’m not a frequent camper, so I didn’t fancy trying to set it up in fading light! With admittedly a little bit of swearing, I can happily report that I did eventually manage to get it set up all by myself!

 

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My digs for the night!
There wasn’t a huge amount for me to do – helping to set up gazebos, and cutting up watermelon on the world’s smallest chopping board! And eating Michelle’s amazing chocolate hummus – OMG!
The finishing arch was put up, and with high winds expected, it was decided that it needed to be secured with ropes. Unfortunately the ropes needed to be attached to the top of the arch, and we didn’t have any 10ft tall people handy! So as Tracey and I walked back from having put some fairy lights along the track to guide the runners to the finish, it was quite amusing to watch people trying to throw ropes to catch onto the hooks! (I think generally the ropes are attached BEFORE the arch is put up, but where’s the fun in that?)

 

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This is NOT the best way to get the ropes attached!
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Robbie’s 105k race had not gone according to plan but he did manage to find an ingenious use for the podium to get the ropes attached!
A ranger vehicle pulled in to the carpark opposite where we were. He advised us that there was a total fire ban from midnight! Fortunately we were allowed to stay but we were told we had to vacate by 9am, and all our fires had to be out by midnight.
And then it was time to wait for the first runners to come through! Having had the privilege of seeing practically EVERY runner cross the finish line at Yurrebilla, it was exciting to be at the finish line before dark and able to watch the pointy end of the field come through!
And because there wasn’t an actual podium for me to stand on at the end of the 35k, I decided to get me a podium pic while I was waiting!

 

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It’s not quite the finish line, and only one out of the three spots is occupied, but it’ll do!

 

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Tracey and I decided to have an impromptu jam session while waiting for the finish line action to start!
First across the line in 11:18 was the very popular winner in Dej (along with his buddy runner Daniel) who still looked remarkably fresh!
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Dej triumphantly crosses the line!

He then had a brief sit down on one of the recliners, but there wasn’t much time for resting as the first female finisher was hot on his heels!

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… and then puts his feet up for, like, a minute…
Bronwyn was the first woman across the line in 11:21, backing up her win in 2016. Quite a dramatic improvement from 2 years ago when she finished 3rd in around 13 and a half hours! Bronwyn was accompanied by her buddy runner, Howard, who won Heysen in 2016!

 

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What a great run by Bronwyn!
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Dej congratulates Bronwyn as Howard follows close behind.
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Race director Ben congratulates Bronwyn on her big win!
Next to finish was 2017 Yurrebilla winner Kazu, with her buddy runner Tracey. Kazu also finished second to Bronwyn last year. She is having a great year!

 

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Kazu and Tracey cross the line together!
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Kazu is congratulated by Dej
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Dej and Bronwyn share top spot – nice work both of them, getting up on the podium after running 105k!
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Technical difficulties! After snapping this pic, I offered my assistance – my height proved to be a bit of an advantage here!
There was a bit of a break after that before the male podium was complete, thanks to the familiar faces of Shaun and Chris, who frequently run events together. I THINK it was Chris who finished second in a sprint finish, with Shaun close behind in third!

 

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Dej waiting to congratulate Shaun and Chris!
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It’s Chris – JUST!
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Robbie congratulates the boys!
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2 very happy finishers!

 

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The ‘serious’ podium pic…
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Not quite sure what Shaun is doing here! And Dej doing his signature pose!
I was starting to get a bit tired (soft, I know – I only ran 35k!) but decided to wait for the 3rd female to cross the line before hitting the tent for a nap. It was close between Linda and Zorica, in the end Linda took the podium spot (accompanied by her buddy runner and husband Brenton) with Zorica not far behind in 4th place. After the presentation for the women (Bronwyn and Kazu were both still there, nearly 2 hours after finishing!) I decided to hit the hay.

 

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A couple of the awesome finish line vollies, Rula and Rebecca, making sure the runners had plenty of fuel when they finished!

 

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The female top 3!

 

Sleeping in the tent was not super restful – I couldn’t really get comfy and I was mostly either too hot or too cold, and kind of could have done with a pit stop but just could not be arsed getting up! Throughout the night I heard bells, happy voices, and Michelle yelling at runners approaching the finish, “TURN YOUR LIGHTS OFF!” (to make finish line photographs better!)
Eventually I heard Kym’s voice at which point I decided I needed to get up. If Kym was there, that meant his buddy runner Kate was also there, and I’d promised her some vegan Baileys. It was 3:30am! I’d been in the tent for 7 hours and missed the bulk of the finishers including first timers Cherie and Sam who both smashed it, along with Vicky and Justin who earned their belt buckles, as did (a different) Kate. Uli was also there, wrapped up in a blanket looking very relaxed on one of the couches!
Good thing I got up when I did, because I was just in time to see Kim finish her first 100k! And here is my favourite story of the day.
Kim had missed out on ordering an event T-shirt, as they’d sold out quickly. She was doing her first 100, and had wanted to mark the occasion with a T-shirt! Undeterred, she went about designing her own T-shirt. She traced the outline of a kangaroo from the Heysen shirt from a couple of years ago, with her finger on her phone. She described it as looking like a kid drew it. She then got it made into a transfer and managed (with some difficulty) to find a white running T-shirt to transfer it onto! And so she had her own, unique, incredibly special memento of her awesome achievement!

 

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Kim and her special T-shirt – pic courtesy of Sheena, taken at Checkpoint 5 earlier in the evening!

Gradually the other runners crossed the line, Kim was happy she’d finished, AND as a bonus didn’t finish last!

And then, the only runner left out there was a guy called Tass. I’d met him at the 24 hour earlier in the year (I think he was in the 24 hour event) and when I saw him all those hours earlier at CP2, I thought he was already looking a little bit wonky! He was accompanied overnight by the sweeper Beck (if you’d read my report from last year, Beck was the buddy runner for George, and also ran Western States and UTMB last year, as well as being the overall winner for the inaugural Hubert 100 miler earlier this year! This was a bit of a contrast from that! Unfortunately Tass didn’t quite make it, he had to pull out with only about 4km to go, apparently he just could not walk another step!

Once Tass was out, that was the race over! Ben went out to pick up Beck (Tass had been picked up by the first aiders) and the huge process of packing up the site began! It was probably 5:30ish by this stage – so I decided it wasn’t really worth going back to bed!

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At the end of the party!
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I can think of worse places to spend a Saturday night!

Many hands make light work as they say – Ben, Michelle and Tracey who had been there for well over 24 hours, did the bulk of the work but there were a few of us there to help load the gear into the trailer and Ben’s car! Remarkably, one of them was Uli, who had run the 100k, had a bit of a nap and then was there right to the end, helping to pack up!

We eventually got out of there about 7:40am, well before our deadline of 9am.

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And with that, Heysen was done for another year! (Well not quite – Ben still had to unpack the car and trailer!)

So now, I guess it’s time to give some thanks. I apologise if I miss anyone – there’s just so many!

Firstly, as always, to Ben for putting on another amazing event. I am running out of things to say about Ben! Luckily he does not require sleep because I seriously doubt he gets much around event time! Thanks Ben for everything you do for the running community – it is hugely appreciated! (And thanks to Ben’s wife Courtney for letting us steal him for days at a time!)

Next I have to thank the volunteers, special thanks must go to Michelle and Tracey who put in a ridiculous amount of hours to making this event happen! You girls ROCK! I don’t think I can put into words how grateful I am for everything you’ve done!

Also I must thank the CP2 team for being awesome. So much fun!

Merrilyn, who already does so much for the running community, for making me a coffee after I finished. Never has an instant coffee tasted so good!

Simon and Clo, for giving me a place to stay on Friday night and a bloody amazing vegan feast to fuel up for the run! And Whiskers the cat for making sure no-one attacked me in the night!

Kate, for coming out course marking with me on Friday. It was such a great day out! We must do it again!

To all the runners in all the events for being so friendly, encouraging and supportive of the other runners. That’s what I love about this community!

And finally to Adam for being an awesome running buddy, even though he did get me lost 😉

Such a great day. Such a great event. See you all there next year!

Race report – SARRC McLaren Vale Half Marathon 2017

Running. Wine country. A match made in heaven!

I learned a few things yesterday. Not the least of which was the fact that Mourvedre (the ‘M’ in GSM) is actually the same as Mataro (also often in GSM!) Mind = blown!

I also learned a few things about how to run (or not to run) a half marathon. More on that later!

This was my 4th consecutive McLaren Vale Half, making it the only half marathon I have done 4 times.

In 2014 I went into the event pretty unprepared. After my first marathon in May, I hadn’t done ANY long runs, as I had come back from my overseas trip and gone back to playing soccer every Sunday, although I had still been doing my regular weekday runs, so it’s not as if I hadn’t been running at all! I had no pacing strategy and low expectations. It ended up being a ‘personal worst’ at the time, but there would have probably been something wrong if it HADN’T been! It was still a respectable time mind you – 1:46.41 which was the PB I was aiming to beat this year!

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And I was pretty happy with that, by the look of it!

In 2015 I paced 2:00, the day after having set what is still my half marathon PB (managing to score a gold medal as well, and celebrating accordingly!) at the Australian Masters Games. You can read all about that one here.

In 2016 I paced 2:00 again, this time dressed up as the Devil for some reason. It was a Devil of a day as well, as those who were there will no doubt remember! If you want to refresh your memory, you can read all about it here.

This year I decided to run it ‘properly’ for the first time!

My friend Donna, seeing that I was going to the event (thanks Facebook!) suggested she could come down with me and we could go wine tasting afterwards. To which I replied, that sounds great, but if you’re coming down, you might as well run the 5k while you’re there! So she entered!

At the end of August, after a little over a year of mostly avoiding hills, I started running hills on Friday mornings in lieu of speedwork. And then I started doing trail runs on Sundays instead of long road runs. I decided I quite liked this, and actually felt it was making my running better even on the flat. Consequently, I decided not to do long road runs to train for a half marathon, instead I was doing long trail runs around Cleland with quite a bit of elevation. MUCH more enjoyable! (Plus, the Heysen 35k run, with 1000m elevation gain, was only 2 weeks later, so I needed to train for that as well)

I had a pretty good week in the leadup. I had 2 fast flat morning runs, a few easy hilly runs, and a trot at Carisbrooke parkrun on the Saturday. I also did my first proper ‘brick’ session on Monday – a 20k bike ride followed by a 4k run. Probably not in any way helpful for McLaren Vale but certainly a step in the right direction when it comes to my triathlon aspirations!

Sunday morning Donna picked me up and we arrived at McLaren Vale in plenty of time for the 8am half start (and WELL in time for Donna’s 9am 5k start!). It was all a bit of a blur though because I spent most of the 40 minutes in the toilet queue then I had just enough time for a 1km warmup before it was go time!

The weather conditions were PERFECT. At the start it was around 15 degrees with no wind to speak of. A far cry from last year!

I had seen quite a few familiar faces (as I had expected!) but I hadn’t seen Beck who had entered at the semi-last minute. We hadn’t planned to run together but I had expected to see her at some stage. There were a LOT of people there for the half though (well over 650 finishers which is phenomenal!) so I guess it’s not really surprising that we didn’t cross paths!

At the start I saw a 1:45 pacer which I was pretty happy about, I figured I could stick with him for about the first half, and then, all being well, take off after that. 1:45 would be just under 5 minutes per kilometre which on recent form should be very doable. I had never planned to run with a pacer but figured if he was there I might as well let him do the work so I could switch off for a bit!

We started, me trying to stick close to the pacer but even in the first few kilometres I was struggling to keep up. I then looked at my watch. After 2km I was averaging 4:44 minutes per kilometre but he was still ahead – I’m not sure quite what his game plan was but I guess he was probably factoring in a fade at the end, and/or some drink stops. Whatever the plan, I was kicking myself, this was way too fast for me to be starting and I definitely could not sustain this pace for the full 21.1! I should have just stuck with my own plan, which was to start at around 5 minute kays and try to pick up the pace towards the end.

LESSON #1 – Never rely on someone else to do the work for you!

The great thing about a course with out and back sections is that you get to see everyone, from the leaders to the back-of-the-packers. I was pretty sure I saw Beck, probably less than 5 minutes behind me, and wondered if she’d catch me! I was certainly slowing down by this point.

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Early days. Happy days!

At about the 7km mark we went back past the start again, where the 5k runners were getting ready to start their race. The next time we came past here, we’d be DONE! But before then came a pretty tough out and back section. It was loooong. I’m sure that I looked pretty grumpy on the ‘out’ bit, with the faster runners coming back the other way, many offering encouragement!

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Another early pic!

Around this point I made my second mistake of the day. There was a guy right in front of me with a very ungainly and distracting running style. Don’t get me wrong, it was effective! He was, after all, AHEAD of me. However, I didn’t really fancy watching him for the rest of the race so between the 8km and 9km marks I passed him. The problem was that almost immediately he tried to pass me again. I was working WAY too hard to stay ahead of him, and then eventually he passed me anyway. All that effort for nothing, and that definitely took its toll!

LESSON #2 – Don’t be too keen to get ahead (and stay ahead) of someone in the early stages! Save your energy and you’ll be reeling them in in the final kilometres!

After this it was very much ‘head down’ and ‘get it done’. My pace had dropped to slower than 5 minutes per kilometre which was going to make sub 1:45 very tough, unless I could find something at the end. I actually considered slowing down and waiting for Beck to catch up with me so at least I’d have some company!

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My pace was slowing from the first few kilometres. Around 13km I dropped below 5-minute kilometres. I was able to regain some speed and get my average below 5 min, but there were a few very slow kilometres in there!

The last turnaround was a godsend! Still there was over 5km to go, but it somehow felt easier. This was when I started to get some pace back (mostly because it was a bit downhill!) and started passing a few people who had passed me earlier. There was one girl with red shoes who had passed me a long time ago and I was surprised to see her. I did eventually pass her and I believe I stayed ahead of her!

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This was pretty early on. Sorry Kathy for photobombing your shot!

A few other familiar faces were (like me) finding the run a bit tougher and slower than expected, including Claire, who had made the same mistake as me, of trying to go with the pacer early. Late in the piece I also overtook fellow SARRC Board member Amanda, who has been running really well lately so for her to be struggling as well, made me realise it wasn’t just me!

Towards the end I went back and forth with a guy called Christopher who I later realised I had met before. It wasn’t until we’d been running and chatting for a while that he mentioned this was his longest run in SANDALS! It certainly didn’t seem to be doing him any harm and he ended up finishing just ahead of me!

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Working hard! Note the sandal, bottom right!

My pace quickened – but it seemed like every time I got back up to 5 min kays I’d drop back to 5:01 – I may have sworn at one point! By the end, I’d got my average pace down to 4:58.

The last kilometre or so was quite comical. I have this ‘policy’ if you can call it that, in any race where there is a medal involved, that I can’t get a medal unless I have high fived at least one kid during the race. I hadn’t managed to get any high fives in so I just needed to get one before I finished! All the kids were on the wrong side of the track though! After a few ‘false starts’ where the kids wouldn’t come to the party and the parents high fived me instead (which was nice, but it doesn’t count – has to be a kid!), just as I ran up the road towards the entrance of Hardy’s Tintara winery, finally a little girl got on board and gave me what I was after – just in time for the sprint to the line!

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I like everything about this photo except my face looks a bit grim!

My finish line video! I was just a tiny bit excited!

Then I looked at my watch – I was so sure I would have gone sub 1:45 but was a bit disappointed to see 1:45:43! (Officially 1:45:39) I may have sworn again, this time in front of Christopher, his wife Rebecca and their two young kids – oops!

Oh well, at least it was a McLaren Vale PB! And the medal was pretty sweet so any disappointment was quickly forgotten!

In hindsight, maybe hilly trail runs were NOT the best prep for a flattish half! Actually, on Friday night I was running with Cherie, who is a trail runner who has done a few ultras but never a road marathon. She is planning to do one one day. I told her for a marathon you can’t really avoid doing long road runs, trail runs just don’t cut it! I guess maybe I should have taken my own advice! Hopefully though, the hilly runs WILL be beneficial for Heysen which is now less than 2 weeks away!

I was pretty sure Donna would have finished before me (and if she hadn’t, I would have passed her towards the end, as I had passed a lot of the 5km walkers in the closing stages) but I thought I’d hang around at the finish line to wait for Beck. After about 5 minutes I saw Voula (another SARRC Board member) and asked if she’d seen Beck, to which she responded that she’d pulled out at the 7km mark (when she came back past the start line) – so it was a good thing I hadn’t slowed down to wait for her to catch up with me!

Eventually I found Donna and she had done better than expected – the old competitive spirit kicked in and she ended up finishing under 40 minutes, well above expectations!

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Beautiful day to kick back on the lawn! Again, a far cry from last year!

We didn’t stay long at the finish line, although the atmosphere was great and there was plenty to keep people hanging around! We had wine tasting to do!

Thanks as always to all of the fantastic volunteers and staff for putting on a brilliant event! Special thanks to Donna for being the designated driver so I could get all my rehydration in!

And especially thanks to Race Director Ben for organising perfect weather for an event – for once!

AAAAND of course last night I came home and signed up for the next SARRC event, the Glenelg Classic! It will be my 5th anniversary of running so that event is always a special one! As always I’ll be doing the 5k, that sounds pretty civilised to me!

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Wine, bling, views and a beautiful day 🙂

Race report – Goolwa Huff N’ Puff

Yesterday I drove 180km roundtrip to run 3.5km.
Sounds crazy, right?
Remember this is the same person who drove 500km for a parkrun!
Yesterday’s event was the Goolwa Huff N’ Puff, a race against the Oscar W paddle steamer, to celebrate Oscar’s 109th birthday. There were a whole lot of festivities happening in the wharf precinct as part of the celebrations.
I had heard about the race through Facebook, it was organised by Simon, a fellow vegan/health professional/runner who is slowly morphing into a triathlete. There was a 3.5km one way race against the paddle steamer, as well as a 7km out and back. I decided to do the 3.5km as I have been regularly running a fast 4k and 5k but 7k is that little bit too far for me to be ‘racing’ at the moment!
Quite a few people I knew were running/walking – Denis and Sara (who had started my running journey nearly 5 years earlier!), a few people backing up after Yurrebilla last week (Tim, Steve, Sam and Claire) as well as Ros and Roger, Michelle and Daniel, and Dani who was walking with her daughter. Many of them, like me, had just driven down in the morning!
It didn’t help that daylight saving started yesterday, which meant we lost an hour’s sleep. Luckily the 7k started at 9am and the 3.5k an even more civilised 9:15am!
I did toy with the idea of running it in my tiger onesie if Richmond won the Grand Final but I decided against it. It was still in my car just in case I changed my mind at the last minute, but in hindsight it would have been a bad idea!
I got to the finish area around 8:30 to get my bib, and decided that the best way to get to the 3.5km start (and 7km turnaround) was to run there. I needed to do a warmup anyway!
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Our main ‘competition’ in the race!
The Oscar W wasn’t quite at the start line by the time we started at 9:15, but our other water-based rivals, the Coorong Dragons in their dragonboat, seemed very eager to get going!
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I suspect the dragonboaters may have exceeded the 4 knot limit! This was just before the start of the 3.5k race.
Before we started, some of the faster 7km runners reached the turnaround, led by Denis and a very fast woman, who I later found out was Olympic race walker Claire Tallent!
There were a few fast kids ahead of me when we started, one of whom I quickly passed, but I was never able to catch the other one!
Before we started, Roger said there was a head wind on the way back – and he was right! It wasn’t super strong but it did have an impact. Probably more of an impact on the boats, though!
Being only 3 and a bit kilometres, the run was over pretty quickly! I passed Michelle who ended up 2nd female in the 7km event. She later said she kept me in sight and it was good to have someone to follow!
I could hear breathing down my neck, I could tell it was a guy but I still didn’t want him to pass me! He did eventually get past me with about 1km to go but he did give me someone to follow, as the lead runner had disappeared out of sight!
This was the first time ever that I had run the entire course in reverse before the actual race, so I knew when I was approaching the finish! I had a sneaky peek over my shoulder and couldn’t see anyone, so I waited until I got onto the grass before I picked up the pace.
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Thanks to Krystal Hunt for this pic – can’t even see the paddle steamer or the dragonboat in this shot!
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Those finish line feels! Thanks to Ian Porteous for this photo!
It was cool to be able to see the paddle steamer and the dragon boat finish – the latter winning that particular race (only just!)
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Photo finish!
It was a really cool concept for a fun run – something I’d never done before and would definitely do again! Thanks to organisers Simon and Andrew as well as all the volunteers for making this thoroughly enjoyable event happen!
Afterwards I joined in a ‘Come and Try’ dragonboating session which was challenging and fun! And I got to work my upper body and rest my legs a bit!
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And now for something completely different!
The markets were pretty cool too! All in all, a lovely day!
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Bling for all finishers – a nice touch!

Yurrebilla 56km ultramarathon – from the other side!

Apologies that this is a bit late, but it’s been a busy week!
Yurrebilla 56km ultramarathon has been a fixture on my calendar for 4 years now.
In my first year of running, 2013, it was just something crazy people (such as my friend Denis, who was indirectly responsible for getting me involved in running in the first place) did. I had thoughts of going along to one of the checkpoints or the finish to cheer him and the other crazy people on, but I may or may not have been a little worse for wear after celebrating the first of Hawthorn FC’s recent ‘three-peat’ of AFL premierships so I didn’t quite make it. (Yes, Yurrebilla used to be on the day after the AFL Grand Final – ouch!)
2014 was when things started to get a bit more serious. I ran my first marathon that year, and thought that there was no way I was ready for an ultra as well (even though some of my running buddies tried to convince me otherwise) so I decided, to save myself from myself, I’d put my hand up early to volunteer. The race again falling the day after the GF, and anticipating my team would be there again, I requested a late-ish start. I didn’t think a 5:30am start line gig would be very pretty! I was rostered on to the finish line aid station – perfect! And good thing I did request a late start because I was celebrating another premiership on Saturday night!
It was a biatch of a day for running – hot and windy AF. We couldn’t have cups of water and Coke set up on the table as they’d blow away! Some of the marquees even threatened to become airborne! It was also not a great day to be wearing a short skirt – luckily I had shorts on under my Snow White outfit (why Snow White? Because Yurrebilla, of course!) otherwise the runners might have got more than just an icy cold cup of Coke from me! (We actually ran out of Coke at one point – but then when some was brought down from the closing checkpoints, MC Karen got on the mic and announced that we had Coke – and I was swamped!)
I discovered that most ultra runners never normally drink Coke except during an ultra! (If I had a dollar for every time I heard that that day…) I LOVE Coke! Another good reason for me to run the thing!
Despite all this, watching the runners come through, I knew that in 2015 I would be out there with them!
I won’t go into 2015 and 2016 in any detail – I have written very detailed reports on both of them which you can read if you’re interested!
And that brings me to 2017. I had Yurrebilla on my calendar and had every intention of running it, until about July. A few things happened that made me decide to give it a miss this year. Firstly, I looked at the calendar and realised I would miss at least the first 2 of the 3 training runs. Now there’s nothing stopping me from running those courses myself on different days, but I just couldn’t be bothered organising it! The group runs are always fun, very social, and all finish with Mal and Merrilyn’s epic aid station complete with hot coffee and soup! Running it on my own would not be the same! Secondly, I did the Yumigo! 12 hour event which took a lot longer to recover from than I would have anticipated!
So I decided that I would volunteer again, wanting to be involved in some way. Quite late in the piece I was asked to be involved in the organising committee and was very excited when I found out that at the end, instead of the traditional dinner at the local footy club, there would be a ‘finish line festival’ at the new finish location, Foxfield Oval. (Such a festival would not be possible at the previous finish line, the actual Yurrebilla trailhead, due to space and parking restrictions).
Until the Sunday before, I didn’t know what I would be doing, but when I popped into the SARRC tent at the City-Bay finish line, I was asked if I would MC the start. I said sure thing, it sounded like a lot of fun! And then, after all the runners had left, I’d have time to sneak in a quick run myself before making my way to the finish line in time for the forst finisher. Club Manager Cassandra was going to MC the finish but requested my help as I know a lot of the runners!
Saturday was a lovely day, starting with a parkrun down at West Beach with interstate visitors Rob and Richard, followed later in the day by wine tasting and lunch in the Adelaide Hills and then watching Richard’s team, GWS, in the AFL prelim final.
It was an early night on Saturday night as I had my alarm set for 4am!!! I took my breakfast on the road with me, as 4am was WAY too early to be eating! I got to the start line at Belair at about 5:15am dressed appropriately in a tiger onesie. (Incidentally, for anyone wondering, it had NOTHING to do with the fact that the Richmond Tigers had just won their way into their first Grand Final in forever, it just happened to be one of two onesies I had in my house, and the penguin had had a run recently!)
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It was still dark when I started!
My job was to get on the mic every now and then and tell people where the bag drop was, where to pick up bibs and pre-race snacks, and most importantly, that the coffee van had EFTPOS! (It took about 3 goes before I got the bag drop instructions right – Cleland on the blue tarp, Morialta in the trailer and finish line in Ben’s car!)
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With super volly Ziad!
It was great to see so many familiar faces out there! Yurrebilla first-timer (and Thursday morning run group leader) James didn’t start his day in the best way, forgetting his bib, but that was easily fixed with a replacement. Another Thursday morning regular, Kate, had forgotten her hydration vest! Luckily I had a spare collapsible cup in my car so she borrowed that. It wasn’t a hot day so a hydration vest was not essential although most people were wearing them (I would have too – even though this event is extremely well supported, I just like knowing that I can have a drink or a bite to eat any time I want to, not just at the aid stations.)
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With Yurrebilla virgin Gary at the start line!
There were 4 start groups, the first at 6am, with the Mayor of Mitcham firing the starters’ pistol.
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With Sydney visitors Rob, Dani and Karin with the famous sign in the background – that’s Mayor Glenn on the right of the pic.
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With PK who was not running but supporting a friend and making sure that the donuts were OK. PK also ran the first few kilometres out and back and alerted me to a potential hazard near Echo Tunnel which I was then able to warn the later waves about.
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With the fabulous Superwoman (aka Ruth!)
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Probably my favourite pic of the day – with the Northern Running Group, Cherie pretending I have just shot her with the starters’ pisto

I was then pleasantly surprised to be given the honour of starting the next 3 groups – timing guy Malcolm even showed me how to load the pistol myself which I did prior to the final (elite) start – I was relieved that I managed to do it right, as these were the serious racers, competing for the AURA (Australian Ultra Running Association) national short course championship (yep, 56km is considered ‘short’ by ultrarunning standards!)

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I think this was the 7am wave!
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The elites preparing for the 8:30 start!
I did ask experienced Race Director (but Yurrebilla RD ‘virgin’) Ben if he wanted to start the elite group but he said he was happy for me to do it, so he must have thought I was doing a reasonable job!
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Super volunteer Annie, *spoiler alert* eventual winner Kazu and RD Ben keeping warm in the trailer!
The starters’ gun is pretty loud by the way!
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A onesie, a firearm and a microphone. What more could a girl want?
By the time the elites had started and I went back to see if I could help pack up,  was surprised to see most of the packing up had already been done! These guys are a well-oiled machine! All that was left to do was find somewhere to safely store the folding tables and empty rubbish bins (the answer to that question? In the portaloos. Obvs!)
According to my Strava, everything was packed up and I was out running by 8:51 – not bad considering the elite wave set off at 8:30! I ran the first 5km of Yurrebilla, with no worries about getting lost, thanks to the impeccable course marking! Finding my way back was a little trickier but those red and white flags ensured I never went wrong! I did have to negotiate my nemesis, the Echo Tunnel, twice, but I survived! (I think it’s the combination of pitch darkness and having to duck to avoid hitting my head on the roof, that I’m not so keen on!)
There were a few familiar faces out on the trail too – a bunch of the Adelaide Harriers (speaking of red and white!) as well as fellow start line volunteer Angela who was doing exactly the same run as me (only she had started a bit earlier). That’s so Adelaide though – be it road or trail, you can’t run in Adelaide on a Sunday without running into someone you know! Well I can’t, anyway!
It hadn’t rained yet, but gnarly weather was forecast. And sure enough, as I approached the 10k point (and therefore the end of my run), the drops started to fall! I made it back to the car before the shower really started, and it rained all the way home!
I had time for a quick shower and a brief visit to the Botanic Gardens in the city to catch up with school friend Christy, who was visiting from Brisbane, before making my way to the finish line.
I decided, in true Yurrebilla MC tradition, that a change of outfit for the finish line was in order. (My previous Yurrebillas had been MC’d by Karen and Michelle, both noted for their wacky costumes!) I thought Snow White was due another run. However, I didn’t think a blonde Snow White would work, so I also put on a brunette wig!
The finish line looked AMAZING! A marquee with fairy lights, tables and chairs, bean bags, a massage tent (staffed superbly by fellow runner Amanda), fires, food trucks including the awesome vegan pie truck, ‘Give Peas A Chance‘ (which I visited a couple of times during the afternoon) AND A WINE BAR! Seriously, what more could you want?
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Pretty!
It was at this point Cassandra asked me to MC the finish which I said I was happy to do. I had MC’d a trail race earlier in the year using the same timing equipment, so I knew how the system worked. I was given an iPad and as runners reached the ‘spotter’ timing point (which on this occasion was only metres from the finish) their names would pop up on my screen so I could announce them. This year all runners had the same coloured bibs, unlike previous years when different colours signified the different start waves. To make it easier for me to identify the elite wave runners (and therefore the placegetters), Malcolm had listed them all as ‘Open’ age category. Still, I only had seconds between them popping up on my screen, and them crossing the finish line!
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Mic in one hand, iPad in the other. Bottle of wine behind me. I could have used a 3rd hand!
Luckily, because the system was not working perfectly at first, someone told me, before I could see for myself, that Andrew Hough was approaching the finish. I knew this meant he was the winner! He smashed it in just under 5 hours, a PB! I first met Andrew at The North Face 100 (now Ultra-Trail Australia) in 2015, where we stayed at the same house, and that was the event that made me decide I wanted to run 100km ultras! (I’ve since done 6, and just this week signed up for UTA100 next year!) Also at the same event I met David Turnbull – I later found out that that was where Andrew and David had also met, during the race!
I recognised David before he reached the spotter, he was about 5 minutes behind Andrew in 2nd place. It was great to see two locals (as well as being all around great guys and very encouraging and supportive of fellow runners) take out the top two places! In previous years we’ve had ambassadors brought in from interstate, who usually end up winning!)
Rounding out the top 3 males was a runner I didn’t know by the name of Oowan, who had come over from Victoria (which explains why I didn’t know him!)
In the women’s race, another local and well known trail runner prevailed – Kazu Kuwata, who had previously finished 2nd at Yurrebilla as well as at last year’s Heysen 105, and Sonja Jansen finished 3rd, with Rachael Tucker splitting them (another unfamiliar name who turned out to be from Queensland!)
It was fantastic to see elite runners from interstate coming over for the event, especially considering they weren’t paid ambassadors – it just goes to show the high regard this event is held in! (But, it was SO good to have local SA runners taking both top spots – we have a fantastic running community here and some brilliant athletes!)
MCing the finish, I got to see many friends, familiar faces who I didn’t really know but had seen at events, and a whole lot of people I didn’t know at all! I especially liked seeing people cross the line together, such as Ryley and Alex, Justin and Vicky, Shaun and Chris in their distinctive headwear, and the always awesome Sheena and tiara’d Tracey, who I later found off had stopped for a drink at the pub at Norton Summit! Now THAT’S doing an ultra in style!
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Sheena and Tracey doing it in style as always!
A few individual mentions too. Zorica who at Mt Hayfield had threatened NOT to do Yurrebilla, had absolutely killed it in 6:42! Kate had smashed out a PB too! First timers Peter (‘fresh’ from 3 marathons in 12 weeks) as well as the 2 Garys, had all finished in style. Then there was Neil who remarkably WALKED the whole thing in 8:48! Sadly James had had to pull out with injury but was at the finish line with his 2 boys handing out medals.
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First timers Gary (in blue) and Peter (fixing his hair!) along with veteran Kate!
And it was absolutely brilliant to see Barry McBride get to run in the event he had RD’d for a number of years, and do it in style too!
3 of the 7 Yurrebilla Legends – those who had run every event since its inception – Terry (the Godfather of Yurrebilla), Sue and John had unfortunately been unable to run this year, but the other 4 (Brett, Paul, Kym and Doug) all finished well. I didn’t get to call any of them across the line though as they happened to cross while there was a band playing, so I was silenced! (I was later told by some of my friends that they could hear me from about 2km out! That beats being able to hear the finish line announcer at UTA100 when you still have 40km to go!)
From the time Andrew crossed just before 1:30, till the last finishers after the advertised cutoff time, the finish line party was in full swing! After all the runners had finished and/or been accounted for, the people who really put in a ridiculous number of hours to make this happen, finally got to put their feet up and have a well-deserved drink! I’m talking about the SARRC staff Cassandra, Lee-Anne, Harry, Paul and Ron, who were there from start to finish on the day, not to mention the hours in the leadup! You guys ROCK!
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SO. MUCH. AWESOMENESS.
(A few of us may have had a sneaky little dance too, as the band continued to play after most of the punters had left!)
Let’s not forget Ben, the Race Director, who never ceases to amaze me with his ability to function on next to no sleep – he really did put on a brilliant event!
And of course no event would be complete without thanking all of the wonderful volunteers – especially those who had to brave the elements at aid stations or marshalling points!
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Like these guys, who manage to outdo themselves every year with their costumes! Which always seem to involve Harry wearing fishnets… and putting us girls to shame with those legs!
Oh and well done to all the runners too – after all, you are the reason the event exists in the first place!
I had SO much fun! Thanks to the team for trusting me both with the mic and the starters’ pistol – hope I did the role justice!
I’m very excited at the prospect of running my 3rd Yurrebilla in 2018 – I’ve seen video of the last kilometre or so and it looks amazing!
And I CAN’T WAIT to cross the new finish line and join the party!

The joys of streaking!

It’s not what you think!

‘Streaking’ is a running term for running every day for a lot of days in a row.

You were thinking something totally different, weren’t you?

It’s not something I have ever embraced before, I’ve always felt the need to have at least one day a week off running, to keep myself fresh and prevent injury.

The thing that got my ‘streak’ started was the ‘Run Against Violence’ virtual run. I was part of a team of 10 that got pretty competitive, and to, I guess, pull my weight, I decided to run every day during the 18 day challenge. Even so, I was not contributing anywhere near the miles that some of my teammates were! We reached our 1300km goal in just 9 days, but decided to keep going (albeit not running such crazy distances!) for the full 18 days to see how far we could get. We got to just over 2000km and I contributed 175km, significantly more than I would have, had I not run every day.

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My first run of the ‘Run Against Violence’, and Day 2 of the streak. I called it ‘Junk miles’ but I’ve since realised that a run for the sake of running, doesn’t necessarily have to be junk!

The next thing that motivated me was a little thing on the ‘parkrun adventurers’ Facebook page called ‘Streaky September’. I found out about it after September had already started, but I hadn’t missed a day yet, so I decided I’d run (the rules say at least 2km each day) every day of the month.

So what has streaking done for me?

Well firstly, I’ve started a new routine of running Monday and Wednesday mornings (normally my ‘rest’ days) straight after my Pump class at the gym. It’s a way to get my run in in the morning, and without cooling down too much after my class. I mapped out an easy 4k loop which included a bit of uphill and a bit of downhill.

I’ve now run this loop 4 times, and each time has been significantly faster than the last! I doubt this trend will continue but it seems that it’s good speed training (which works out well, because I haven’t done ‘proper’ speed training in quite a while!)

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This is a pretty good looking graph!

It’s interesting to see how I am going on each of the Strava segments (I’ll get a CR on one of them, one day!) but there is something a bit sus about this one…

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Check out that average pace! That HAS to have been done in a car!

SA’s biggest running event, City-Bay, happened this weekend just gone. I’d run it 4 years in a row, but this year I’d decided for the first time since I started running, to give it a miss. My main reason was that I didn’t think I would be able to do a time I’d be happy with. I wasn’t even sure if I’d get sub 60 minutes (which would have made it a personal worst!) so I thought it was better if I didn’t run, and trained properly for next year.

Because I wasn’t running City-Bay, I went up to the launch of the new Nuriootpa parkrun in the famous Barossa Valley, and, because most fast runners were resting before City-Bay, managed to snag the course record (I expect for one week only!) and celebrated in the only way I felt appropriate, with coffee followed by wine tasting!

There was more wine later in the day too – my friend Donna is getting back into running after a long break, and was keen to do a run up in the Hills with me, suggesting we could go wine tasting afterwards! Of course I said yes! (I had previously convinced her to enter the 5k at the upcoming McLaren Vale Half Marathon, with the promise of wine tasting afterwards – are you sensing a pattern here?)

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Part of the tasting menu at Hahndorf Hill Winery. I hadn’t really heard of this winery before but they had one wine, the Blaufrankisch, which blew my mind!

Then on Sunday, I wanted to go down to the finish of City-Bay at Glenelg to see my friends. Driving there wasn’t really an option, as the main road to Glenelg, Anzac Highway, would be closed. And I wanted to keep my streak going. I could have run there and back, but I didn’t really want to run that far. I thought 12km was ideal, as that was the distance of City-Bay. So I decided to drive to Seacliff, about 6km from Glenelg, with the bike in the car, and run a little ‘out and back’ 12km.

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Cracking day for it!

My time for the 12k was 1 hour 1 minute, so that pretty much justified my decision not to run City-Bay. Sure, I probably would have run the race slightly faster but there’s still an excellent chance I would have been slower than my slowest and first City-Bay.

I then jumped on the bike and rode to Colley Reserve where I saw a lot of people I knew, all happy with how they’d gone! My old nemesis Graham was there and asked me why I hadn’t run, and I told him. He then said “But you’re doing Yurrebilla next weekend, aren’t you?” to which I replied “No, and for the same reason!” His response was “You do realise that not everything has to be a race?” This is true, but I don’t really fancy running an event when I know I probably will be slower than I have been in the past. It’s the same reason I’m not running the Heysen 105 this year. Tower Trail Run back in June was an example of a run I went into, not expecting to do well, but just wanting to go and enjoy it. So it is possible! (And I DID enjoy it!)

It was good to get in a little ride on the road in my bike shoes too – the first time riding on the road since I’d bought the bike. I haven’t quite figured out how to turn right yet – oh well, all in good time!

The streak continues! Yurrebilla 56k is on next Sunday and I will be volunteering. I have been asked to MC the start (the first group starting at 6am so no chance of a run beforehand!) and also to help out at the finish. I said yes, absolutely, on the condition that I get the chance to go for a sneaky run sometime in between the start and the finish!

Race report – SA Duathlon Championships 2017 (All about my first duathlon, and how I got there!)

Hang on, this can’t be right, can it? Duathlon. That’s running AND cycling. I’m a runner, not a cyclist!

Well, you read it correctly. This past weekend I stepped well outside of my comfort zone and competed in my first duathlon.

It all started a while ago – around 2 years ago I think, when I was doing a Heysen 105 training run with a bunch of guys from Victor Harbor – noted runner Simon, and two accomplished triathletes, Jono and Shane (Simon’s brother). They were also all parkrun Run Directors (Simon and Shane were also the Event Directors and the people you have to thank for bringing parkrun to Victor!) so we had plenty to chat about. I remember asking Shane if he was going to run the Heysen 105 but being so close to a fairly important triathlon event (Murray Man), that was not going to happen. Not that year, anyway!

A little further down the road my friend and regular running buddy Nat offered to give me a few lessons on the bike. I didn’t have a bike at that stage, and I had NEVER ridden a road bike, or with cleats! (Like most kids, I had had a bike, but since being an adult, my cycling experience was pretty limited. I had done an easy cycling tour in Berlin, a ride across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, a ride through Stanley Park in Vancouver, and most recently rode around Inis Mor off the coast of Ireland (near Galway).

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Inis Mor, 2014

The bike I was ‘learning’ on was her son’s bike, he was 13 at the time and still growing, so Nat said that when he grew out of it, she might be wanting to sell it. I said I’d definitely be interested in buying it – it was a great bike, a Bianchi (if that means anything to you!)

This was during the summer of 2015-2016.

One of my goals for 2016 was to complete a triathlon. I didn’t specify a distance, I just wanted to be able to tick one off. I did do an aquathlon in late 2015 (swim/run – I went for the short course which was just one swim and one run!) but had yet to incorporate cycling into the equation! My lack of a bike was a small disadvantage here…

Sometime during 2016 there was some banter between Shane and me regarding him doing the Heysen 105 and me doing a triathlon. I guess theoretically you could say I had the easier part of the deal – a mini triathlon is still a triathlon, but he still had to run 105km! I kept using the fact that I didn’t have a bike as an excuse, he would send me invites to all these triathlon events but somehow I always managed to have a running event on (or some other excuse!). Plus, 2016 (at least the first part of it) was consumed with my trying to qualify for Boston!

Then, in October 2016, it happened. Shane became an ultramarathoner by completing the Heysen 105. (Hey, if you’re going to do one ultra in your life, it might as well be a 100k!) I thought to myself, I guess I’m really going to have to keep up my end of the deal now!

Then things went relatively quiet. 2016 came to an end, then my Boston training began, and any thoughts of doing one of the summer triathlons went out the window.

And then, in early July, I got the message from Nat that I’d been kind of hanging out for. I WAS planning to buy a bike, but I always had in the back of my mind that the Bianchi might become available any time, and it was going to be vastly superior than any other bike (new or secondhand) that I could afford to buy. Her son was about to turn 15 and he was getting a new bike for his birthday. Did I want to buy the Bianchi? You bet, I said (or words to that effect).

So then, for about 6 weeks, it sat in my bedroom, bemusing my cats, and generally gathering dust. In my defence, the winter weather was pretty crappy for riding and I didn’t really want to start riding in adverse conditions.

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Isn’t she pretty?

Around 3 weeks ago I went to yet another parkrun launch down at Aldinga, Simon and Shane were also there along with a few other members of their family! Shane mentioned a duathlon coming up at Victoria Park in a few weeks, he was entering his son in the ‘Enticer’ distance and he was doing the long course (also the State Championship race). I thought, yeah, I can probably do that! I SHOULD do that! It’s not a triathlon but it’s a start!

A week later, I was all set to go for my first ride on Saturday afternoon when I realised the seat was too high and I didn’t have an Allen key to adjust it! Luckily I have one at work so on Monday I brought it home, lowered the seat, and went out for a quick spin before the light started to fade. I didn’t even get out of my work clothes – just threw the helmet and the Garmin on, and was out the door! (I decided to leave the cleats for another day!)

My first ride was up and down a newly resurfaced back street near where I live. The U-turns were a bit tight, but I wasn’t quite ready to tackle proper roads (plus I still haven’t mastered the art of signalling!) I managed 5k quite comfortably and decided to enter the duathlon. It was a 2.5km run/9km ride/1.25km run, all on bitumen, and dead flat. I could definitely do that!

So I entered, but I didn’t want to tell too many people. I didn’t want witnesses! In my favour was the fact that the duathlon clashed with the final Yurrebilla training run, and many of my running friends would be there, safely clear of Victoria Park! I told Shane of course – he would be there anyway, and it was pretty much his fault I was doing it anyway!

Fast forward to race weekend. I thought I’d better get out and do another ride so on Saturday afternoon I ventured a bit further afield (this time I was at least in ‘activewear’, having done a run earlier) and rode laps around the block, including 2 main roads (one with a bike lane, one without). I attempted left signals but I don’t think they were that great. At least at that time of day there was not a lot of traffic! I only did left turns! (Signalling was not going to be an issue in the race so I can work on that later!) I rode just under 9km which was the distance I’d have to ride on Sunday.

Gear-wise I didn’t have a trisuit but I did have some shorts which I think might be tri shorts versus normal bike shorts (I have a pair of bike shorts that are extremely padded, and these ones have padding but not quite so much. I got them from an op shop, still with the tags attached! Winning!) and I just went with a plain black tank on top. Thought I might keep it low key. Then I couldn’t help myself so I added rainbow arm warmers!

On Saturday night while I was getting my gear ready (and entering new territory in setting my watch to multisport mode!) I was chatting with Shane on Messenger and he sent me a few funny videos (mostly what NOT to do in transition) and also gave me one piece of advice which I took very seriously since it was all in caps!

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Shane’s valuable advice!

How bad would it be if I forgot my helmet? Or my bike?

I had the helmet and the bike ready in the lounge the night before so I couldn’t forget either!

In the morning I got ready as usual and then went to put the bike in the car. Now bear in mind I’ve ridden it twice. I certainly haven’t taken any bits off it! Well the plan was to fold the back seats down and put it in in one piece. But one of the seats wouldn’t fold down so the only way I could get it in was to take off the front wheel. It was a bit of a tight squeeze but there was no way I was taking off the back wheel too!

I got to Victoria Park way early, and was just sitting in the car thinking I might listen to a few more tunes before getting out, when a car pulled up just near me, it was Shane, Simon and Shane’s son Finn who was doing the Enticer with me.

Luckily I had professionals to help me reattach my front wheel! It looked so easy! I didn’t have any pockets in what I was wearing, so I shoved my coffee money down one side of my shorts, my car keys in the other, and my energy drink down the front of my shorts as we rode around the track to the registration area.

First stop was the transition area to rack my bike. The guy there was very helpful, he even helped me adjust my helmet straps. He and Shane showed me how to get the bike off the rack and also how to put it back on when I’d finished the bike leg. The helmet was placed under the bike and I went to collect my bib and a few extra pins to pin my car key and my coffee money inside my shorts!

After keeping this event VERY quiet among people who might come down for a look, I ran into a few people I knew very early on – former colleague, runner and triathlete Sarah, well known trail and ultra runner Marlize, and marathoner and triathlete Belinda – all of course doing the long course! (There were only 7 people entered in the Enticer! I assumed they’d all be kids!)

We went for a little warmup ‘jog’ and then it was time for the race briefing. I must say I was probably more confused after the briefing than before!

The Enticer and the Sprint (long) distance both started at the same time. It would be up to us to count our own laps. We had a 2 lap run, a 4 lap ride and a 1 lap run. The Sprint distance was double that. I was glad that the highest number I had to count up to was 4!

We started with a run, I was pretty comfortable with that! I’d done 2 races here before – the Clipsal Hot Lap Fun Run which followed the Clipsal 500 (motor racing) track and the SARRC loop event, both last year. It’s a good, flat, fast course! Our run was only 2km so that was pretty much a walk in the park for me!

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So far, so good!

I was possibly one of the first (well I was definitely one of the first 7!) to enter transition for the first time. Helmet ON. Helmet DONE UP. Bike unracked. Walked through transition to the section where we could mount the bike. Most people would run here. Not me! On my first lap, I didn’t have to contend with other riders coming back the other way, as all the Sprint competitors were still running. By my second lap, I’d be being overtaken left, right and centre (well maybe not so much centre!) by the fast cyclists!

While I was messing around with my helmet (I’d stupidly left it buckled up, so I had to unbuckle it first – definite rookie mistake – and then managed to pinch myself with the buckle on the first attempt) Finn came into transition, his bike being right next to mine. We got onto the bikes and we had pretty much the whole track to ourselves, well for a short time at least! Another one of the Enticer guys, who wasn’t there when I was in transition, flew past us. At least now I had someone to follow!

The bike course had a few tight turns in it. On my first proper turn, not one of the hairpin turns but more of an easy right turn, I couldn’t find my brakes! Luckily at the last second I found them and eased them on gently as I cornered. By the last lap I thought about not braking at all, as I got used to the feel of the bike and the course (I still braked, but not quite as much!)

Towards the end of the lap there was a U-turn which I totally missed – I ended up going a bit too far but still managed to turn safely without causing a pile-up (my biggest fear in the bike leg!) – then as I was going back the other way I saw Finn turning at the proper place. And I didn’t make that mistake again – after missing it the first time, I could see it was actually very well marked. It was just because I didn’t have anyone close in front of me at the time, and I tend to rely on following people – definitely not used to being at the front!

The U-turns (there were 2 on each of the 4 laps) got easier as I went along but I still slowed down almost to a stop. Each time I’d look behind me to make sure there wasn’t anyone coming. On one lap there were 2 riders flying up behind me so I did pretty much stop and let them past before I carefully went around myself! (Later on, after I’d finished and was watching the Sprint competitors on that very turn, I noticed that they all slowed down quite a lot. Maybe not quite as much as me, but they definitely slowed down!)

As I completed my final lap and went back into transition, I was in uncharted territory. A ‘run off the bike’ for the very first time! Fortunately my second run was only just over 1km but still, wow, my legs were heavy! (And that was only after riding 9km!)

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Didn’t fall off. Didn’t cause any pileups. I’m calling that a win!

There was one of the Enticer guys just in front of me on the run but I was pretty confident I’d catch him, and I did, without too much trouble. I wasn’t sure who the other Enticer people were – as it turned out a few of them had probably already finished!

I got over the heavy legs pretty quickly and managed a decent pace for my last run. The guy who I’d passed wasn’t too far behind me, and Finn a few minutes back from him.

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Legs like lead – but got it done! Thankfully just the one lap!

Although I was happy to keep it low key for my first event, it was nice to have some support from the crowd in the form of Ian and Julie, Simon and Shane’s parents who had made the trip up from Victor to watch their sons and grandson compete!

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This was a bit after I’d actually finished, hence the reason why I’m standing still!
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I stuffed up the Garmin a bit on the transitions, it seemed to think my last leg was on the bike (which would have been INCREDIBLY slow!) but thankfully I managed to correct it on Strava!

After finishing and getting the all-important post-run coffee, I watched the Sprint athletes finish off their ride. It must have been hard for them to count laps – Shane wasn’t sure what lap he was on as he passed us the last time, but he guessed by the distance on his Garmin that he had to be on his last lap!

Then one by one they finished the bike leg and went back through transition to the final run leg. At that stage Shane was ahead of Simon but not by a great distance, but Simon didn’t look like he was making up any ground. They had 2 laps, and by the back half of the second lap you could see that Simon was making his move! It was pretty exciting stuff – Julie even said at one point that it would be nice to see them cross the line hand in hand! (As if that was ever going to happen!)

In the end, Simon paced his run perfectly and passed Shane just before the finish, beating him home by 4 seconds!

After the Sprint event had nearly finished (with just a few runners on their last lap) the Junior draft legal race started (same distance as the Enticer, but drafting is legal unlike in the earlier events – I’m not going to pretend that I know what drafting is, but all I can say is those kids are scary fast!)

After that came the presentations and I was pleased to win my age group and get a shiny medal – I wasn’t expecting to come away with bling, an added bonus!

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A hotly contested age group win. Well, an age group win anyway. I’ll take it!

(OK I’ll come clean. Of the 7 entrants, 6 turned up, and 5 of those were male. So not only did I win my age group BUT I was also first female. The person who didn’t show up was also in my age group! But on the plus side, of the 6 people who did race, 5 of us were adults, Finn was the only kid!)

All in all it was a fantastic introduction to transitions, running off the bike and the other new experiences that come with the multisport world! I LOVED it! The weather was perfect, the other competitors were great (I managed not to get in anyone’s way, and the riders were all really good at calling out when they were about to pass me) and the volunteers as always were fantastic!

I’m definitely keen to do another duathlon soon – maybe I’ll go and play with the big kids next time!

Special thanks to Shane for talking me into it in the first place and for all the advice!

Oh and I know I haven’t quite held up my end of the deal yet but at least now I’m 2/3 of the way there!

 

 

 

 

 

Race report – Mount Hayfield 2017

I’ve done this before. Last year, in fact. I didn’t read my 2016 race report in preparation for this year’s race. But you can, if you want to, by clicking here.

All I could remember was, a big bastard of a hill. And a crapload of mud. And having to go straight to a Fathers’ Day lunch, no time for a shower, had to make do with baby wipes. My sweaty, muddy running gear did not get any better smelling after 2 hours in the car in the sunshine!

Anyway, I digress. Mt Hayfield 2017 is what we’re talking about here.

2017 for me has been a year dominated by road and track events. Sadly I have not got in anywhere near as much trail running as I would have liked. Consequently I made the decision some time ago to have a year off from running the Yurrebilla 56km ultra.

I did, however, enter the ‘soft option’ 35k at Heysen which is coming up next month. After 2 years of doing the 105k, I knew I couldn’t do much better than last year, so I wasn’t going to run Heysen at all, but as I had done some course marking last year, I had free entry into Heysen 2017. Hence I’d entered the 35k.

But that still requires training! The 35k goes from the start to Checkpoint 2. In my experience, the section from Checkpoint 1 to Checkpoint 2 is physically the hardest of the whole 105.

So, even though I wasn’t really in peak trail form, I decided to enter the Mt Hayfield long course again. A glutton for punishment, you could say!

The previous weekend I had gone out for a VERY enjoyable and cruisy Chambers loop with Beck, which was meant to be 10k but turned out to be 13.5k. As trail runs often do! I remembered how much I enjoyed trail running and hanging out with kangaroos and koalas!

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Like this little dude 🙂

Running the long course at Mt Hayfield would also help me to contribute some kilometres to my team tally in the RAV Virtual Run. This is a virtual run supporting Run Against Violence – teams of 10 have to complete 1300km in 18 days. I am part of an Adelaide-based team featuring some pretty big names in the local running scene, and am hoping to be able to contribute my 130km, although the way my teammates are going, we may well knock off the 1300km long before I get into triple figures!

One of the main rivals of my team, RADelaide Runners, is another SA team, Yumigo Runners. I knew a few of the Yumigoans would be out at Mt Hayfield, as well as Brody, one of my RADelaide teammates.

Mt Hayfield is a BLOODY LONG WAY away, especially when you have to get up at arse o’clock on a Sunday morning to get there from Adelaide! I had to get up at 5am and leave home at 5:45 to meet a couple of other runners in Yankalilla (not far from the race location) to carpool to the start. Carparking was at a premium and was also likely to be MUDDY. Utes and 4WDs were the order of the day. My little Corolla was neither of those and therefore was unlikely to cut it if the mud got really gnarly!

I had a busy but not too strenuous Saturday, in preparation for a challenging run on Sunday. I did cover a lot of kilometres by car though – I drove to Gawler to try out their parkrun for the first time (I have now done all the parkruns in SA except Port Lincoln – a 6.5 hour drive from Adelaide so that will require some planning!) and then after a quick dash back home I went out with a few other runners, Beck and James, for a lovely lunch for fellow runner Kate’s birthday! (I volunteered to be designated driver – I figured I needed all the help I could get to make Sunday’s run a good one!)

I decided at the last minute to put tape on my feet to prevent blisters – I don’t do that all the time now, only really for marathons or longer, but with likely wet trail conditions I figured it would be a good idea! It rained a LOT overnight and I wasn’t sure if it was going to rain during the race itself, so just to be on the safe side I took 2 rain jackets – one lightweight one that was about as comfortable to run in as a plastic garbage bag but that would fit easily in my small race vest and/or tie around my waist comfortably, as well as my UTA-compliant Gore-Tex jacket which would not be all that great to run in but which would keep me dry if it looked like it would rain quite a bit. (In the end I opted for the former, stuffed into my pack, ‘just in case’). Given that all Trail Running SA events are now cup-free, I also took 2 small bottles of Gatorade in my pack. (I’m glad that ‘cup-free’ has finally caught on – I remember a couple of occasions when I was volunteering on drink stations and some people refused to carry cups or bottles, so when they got to the drink stations they would actually drink directly out of the water casks – that is NOT OK!!)

One of my favourite things about some of the southern races is the drive down. I really enjoy driving by myself, mostly because then I can crank the tunes I like, and sing if I want to! To get to Yankalilla I had to drive through possibly one of my favourite parts of road in Adelaide, the section between the Victory Hotel at Sellicks Hill and Myponga, including passing the epic Buddha statue! (I hear that this spot was chosen out of places around the world!) It’s truly a magnificent view and never gets old, no matter how many times I drive down there!

I got to Yankalilla in plenty of time, so gathered all my stuff and met fellow runner Melissa, a relative newbie to trail running, who was also getting a lift with Adelaide trail runner Jon (Jon is one of the Event Directors and instigators of Cleland parkrun, SA’s first and so far only trail parkrun) who had anticipated the mud and brought his wife’s 4WD along! Jon and I were both running the 20k, starting at 8am, and Melissa was doing the 8k, starting an hour later.

We made it to Mt Hayfield, parked in the mud pit that was the carpark, and made our way through the sludge to collect bibs, say hello to people and do all the stuff you do before a trail race!

A lot of people were gathered at a spot behind the baggage tent, assistant Race Director Maurice jokingly suggesting we were there to get warm, rather than gathering around the fire that the volunteers had gone to great trouble to get going! Actually, we were there to admire the view, but as it turned out, it WAS pretty warm there!

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Cracking view! And a bit of warmth on a chilly morning! What’s not to like?
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Thanks to Gary Denham for this very cool, slightly eerie pre-race photo with the Sykes family!

The sun was out a bit, so I decided to wear a cap and sunglasses. The cap would do double duty, it would keep the sun but also any rain out of my eyes. I also had gloves on as well as the obligatory arm warmers! It was pretty chilly but I was relatively comfortable in what I had on – it was certainly nowhere near as cold as it had been at the previous TRSA event at Mt Crawford! (And fingers crossed, it might not even rain!)

We gathered at the start for the race briefing and then headed off at 8am. I had no expectations, no goal time in mind, in fact I hadn’t even looked at my results from 2016 to aim for a PB. My goal was to just go out there, enjoy it, and use it as a training run. And hopefully finish at a reasonable time so Jon and Melissa didn’t leave without me (joking – they would never have done that!)

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Pic of the start line stolen from Gary! I just realised I’m in it too (well the back of me) at the right of the photo (green shirt, purple skirt)

The first few kilometres were a bit of a blur. We started out running downhill and I managed to run the first few kilometres (I know that because I was almost ready to walk for the first time, looked at my watch, saw I was on 1.9km and thought “I should at least get to 2km before I start walking”!)

As always, there were a lot of familiar faces out there as well as a lot of people I’d never seen before! Trail running in SA is growing constantly so there are always new people getting on board! TRSA puts on fantastic, extremely reasonably-priced and very ‘doable’ events. There’s always a short course on offer, as a great introduction to trails and a perfect option for walkers (and some REALLY fast runners!) The events are in places that are accessible from Adelaide, with challenging and varied terrain as well as often spectacular scenery – there really is something for everyone!

One of the things I like most about trail running is the friendliness and camaraderie out there on the trail. Because most of us mere mortals are running (and let’s admit, often walking) at a much slower pace than we would in a road event, we actually get to chat a bit! (One woman who I was ‘to-ing and fro-ing’ with towards the back half of this race, kept asking how I could be talking AND running at the same time! It’s one of the many charms of trail running!)

Early on I was passing and being passed by a lot of people I’d spent a lot of time with on the trails! One was Stephan, who had just run the course of the Cleland 50k ultramarathon the other day, just for fun! Also there was Trevor, who had run a 20-odd kilometre section of the Heysen trail the previous day! I couldn’t quite understand it, my tactic is to have a relatively quiet few days before an event (some might call it ‘tapering’) but clearly this is not the case for a lot of my fellow trail runners! I suspect many people were using this race like I was, as a training run of sorts. Most of them were probably using it as training for Yurrebilla, which is now only 3 weeks away!

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With Stephan (in the blue) and Brody, looking like we’re having WAY too much fun! Thanks to the official TRSA photographer for this photo!

I passed one of the TRSA committee members, Murray, within the first kilometre or so, only to have him absolutely FLY past me going down one of the early hills! I was like, “I want to be able to run down hills like that!” – I didn’t see anyone smash a hill like that for the rest of the day!

I’m not sure quite what point in the race we were at, but it was early on, before the first big hill, when I met up with Brody. He is a very good runner, and I would not have expected to be running with him at any point, but it turned out that he, like Stephan and Trevor, had gone and smashed out some kilometres on Saturday! (Doing his bit for RADelaide Runners, unlike yours truly!) As a result of that, Brody was a bit tired and so we ended up running together for the rest of the race. Which was really nice. I can only recall one previous occasion when I’ve gone into a race expecting to run it essentially on my own, and ended up running a significant chunk of it with someone else, and that was UTA100 last year when I ran with Anna for a long time – probably at least 8 hours!

Every now and then one of us would say to the other, “Feel free to go ahead if you want to” but both of us were pretty happy to take it relatively easy. We would walk up the steeper hills (and some of the not-so-steep ones) and run the flats and downhills. Brody was more confident on the downhills especially the slippery muddy ones! At one point we had to cross calf-deep water which I didn’t recall having to contend with last year!

If one of us decided we wanted to walk, the other would usually be MORE than happy to follow suit. And one of us might then decide to run, but set a goal that we would run to (usually a tree – there were plenty of those about!) and then we’d both run to that point before walking again. It was a really, really, enjoyable run! I hadn’t run with Brody before so we had a good chat about our running histories and I couldn’t believe he had only been running for a year or so and had already done 2 100km ultras!

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No forced smile here – LOVING it! Thanks to the official TRSA photographer for this photo!
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Pretty muddy and soggy out there! But that just makes it more fun! Thanks to the official TRSA photographer for this photo!

We also saw 2 kangaroos bounding across the track at different parts of the race, making it look easy! I jokingly said to one, “Can I borrow your legs please?” (weirdly enough he didn’t respond!)

Normally I’m pretty competitive, and whenever I see another woman in front of me I am pretty keen to get ahead of her. This time I wasn’t too fussed but I did go back and forth with Zorica a few times. I asked her at one point as Brody and I passed her, if she was doing Yurrebilla and she said something like “Probably not, after today!” Not long after this, I could hear footsteps behind me and there she was, powering (running) past us as we walked up a hill. I called out to her (something like) “You SO have to do Yurrebilla!”

The long course, purportedly 20km, was 2 loops, one 12km and one 8km. The second, 8km loop, was the same course that the 8km runners were doing. We had been assured that it was ‘flat’.

It was not.

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Yeah, nah. Not flat. Not by any stretch!

You could probably have called it ‘RELATIVELY flat’. Certainly flatter than the first 12k which contained 2 hills that I would describe as ‘unrunnable’.

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One of said ‘unrunnable’ hills. See all those tiny dots of people in the distance? They are ALL walking. It did however give us a chance to enjoy the beautiful scenery 🙂

But there was at least one unrunnable hill in the back 8k too! (After the race I was chatting to Ros who was saying that she had been lied to by all her running buddies, having also been told the 8k was flat!)

We started to see 8k runners and walkers who all seemed to be enjoying themselves. In fact, I don’t recall seeing anyone who didn’t look like they were enjoying it.

At one point I saw Kristy, who had started behind us, coming back the other way and got very confused, I couldn’t figure out how she had got in front of us without me knowing! At which point Brody informed me that we were on an out and back section, she was on her way out and we were on our way back! We had been here before! I had no idea!

We were pretty lucky with the weather, all things considered. It started raining lightly in the second half of the race, at which point Brody got his rain jacket out. And then it stopped. I told him “You do realise it stopped raining as soon as you put your jacket on, don’t you?” It did rain again right near the end but I didn’t think it was worth getting my rain jacket out by that stage!

Brody and I had discussed the ‘forced smile for the photographer’ phenomenon, essentially you only have so much energy during a race, and you don’t want to waste any of it forcing smiles EXCEPT when there is a photographer! We saw a photographer right near the end, when we were walking or about to walk, so we ran up the hill and gave it our best smiles, but I commented that they didn’t really need to be forced at this point as we were SO close to the end!

After passing through the last gate it was then a few hundred metres UPHILL to the finish. I’m sure I would have walked at least some of it if I’d been on my own, but Brody started running so I ran too! We discussed who was going to finish first and I said I was MORE than happy to cross the line together (if he didn’t want to go on ahead) which is what ended up happening! (Just like Anna and me at UTA!)

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This picture really sums up the day nicely! Thanks to the official TRSA photographer for this photo!

First port of call was the food tent for an apple and one of Maurice’s famous vegan brownies, then the coffee van, then out of my wet shoes and socks and into some warmer clothes! (I later realised I may have been a bit premature in my removal of shoes, remembering that I still had to walk back through the mud to the carpark!)

Always a popular part of TRSA events is the trophy presentation and the subsequent random prize draw. OK maybe the latter is of more interest to most of us! It’s always nice to see the placegetters get their sweet medals but let’s face it, most of us are not going to be involved in this part! For the random prize draw, on the other hand, there is one rule. If your name is called, and you’ve already left, you not only DON’T win the prize, but you also get to cop the ridicule of all your friends!

I’ve done pretty well out of the random prize draws. In my very first trail event I won a $200 pair of Salomon trail shoes! I’ve also won a Salomon race vest and most recently a $50 voucher for The Running Company! However, today was not to be my lucky day, so after the prize draw was over, Jon, Melissa and I made our way back through the mudbath, into the car and back to Yankalilla to make the longish journey home!

As always, I have to end my race report with a few thankyous. Thankyou firstly to the committee at Trail Running SA for putting on yet another fantastic and highly enjoyable event – I feel a bit like a broken record as I’m pretty sure I say this after every TRSA event but it’s always true! The many volunteers who made it all happen, thanks to each and every one of you, but extra special kudos to those who were on carparking attendant duty – that was a particularly challenging job in the mud! All the runners for just being an awesome bunch of people to share the morning with! Thanks to Jon for giving me a lift from Yankalilla and back again afterwards! And special thanks to RADelaide Runners teammate Brody for being an awesome (unexpected, but very welcome) trail running buddy! I was not expecting to enjoy today’s run anywhere near as much as I did, and I’m sure running most of it with a friend, with no pressure (from myself or anyone else), played a huge part!

Here is a FANTASTIC video of the run, guaranteed to make you want to go out and run it!

Dare I say it, I’m almost kinda wishing I was running Yurrebilla now…

NO. STOP!!!