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!

2014-10-15 20.48.22
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.

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!

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!

pace chart
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!

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!

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!

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!

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!

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!
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!
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.
Thanks to Krystal Hunt for this pic – can’t even see the paddle steamer or the dragonboat in this shot!
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!)
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!
And now for something completely different!
The markets were pretty cool too! All in all, a lovely day!
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!)
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!)
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.)
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.
With Sydney visitors Rob, Dani and Karin with the famous sign in the background – that’s Mayor Glenn on the right of the pic.
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.
With the fabulous Superwoman (aka Ruth!)
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!)

I think this was the 7am wave!
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!
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!
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?
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!
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!
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.
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!
(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!
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.

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!)

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…

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?)

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.

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).

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.

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!

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!

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!)

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.

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!

This was a bit after I’d actually finished, hence the reason why I’m standing still!
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!

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!

Cracking view! And a bit of warmth on a chilly morning! What’s not to like?
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!)

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!

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!

No forced smile here – LOVING it! Thanks to the official TRSA photographer for this photo!
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.

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’.

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!)

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…


Race report – Adelaide Marathon Festival 2017

This was the 4th Adelaide Marathon I’ve been involved with.

In 2014 I was thinking of volunteering, but with a girls’ night the night before, I decided not to commit to anything in case I didn’t make it! Instead I decided to dress up as a tiger and hang out by the zoo cheering on my friends who were running (along with everyone else!) As you do.



In 2015 I had my first experience as a pacer in the half marathon, pacing 2:00, and you can read all about that here.

With fellow half marathoner and event ambassador, the legendary Steve Moneghetti!

Then in 2016 I ran the full marathon for the first (and possibly only?) time, trying to get Beck across the line at BQ (Boston Qualifier) pace. You can read all about that adventure here.

No Steve, I’m not stalking you, I promise!

In 2017 I was back to pacing the half again. As I have stated in a previous post, I was originally slated to pace my usual 2:00 but after a particularly sluggish 16k Sunday run at slower than 2:00 half marathon pace, I decided to request a change to uncharted territory, 2:15. That was between 6:21 and 6:23 per kilometre.

Before pacing 2:00 (which I have now done 4 times) for the first time, I practised running at this pace in the weeks leading up to the event. This time, I was just winging it!

On the Saturday I went to the event expo at Next Generation to collect my bib and AWESOME event merch, and see if they needed a hand with anything.

Yes. I appear to have lost all of my limbs!

I ended up staying until the end and helping shift the gear to the nearby Adelaide Oval for the morning. In the process of breaking down some boxes for recycling, I managed to hit the window with my elbow with great force (fellow volunteer, pacer and board member Gary said the window shook!) and proceeded to walk around the room swearing for the next few minutes – hitting your ‘funny bone’ is anything but, except possibly for everyone else watching!

SARRC staff Cassandra, Lee-Ann and Harry still had a lot of work to go when I left at around 5:40, and would be there many hours before me the following morning. It seemed hardly worthwhile going home!

In the morning Beck picked me up and we arrived at the Oval around 6:30 to help out as needed with bag drop etc, but everything seemed to be in order so we were able to wish the marathoners well (including first timers Maxine, Dana and fellow SARRC board member Veronica, pacers Jim and Coralie, and runner of 3 marathons in 3 months, Peter!) and see them set off.

The reason we look so happy here is because we are NOT running the marathon like the suckers behind us! One lap was plenty for us!

After the marathon started we had 45 minutes before it was our turn! Time for a quick wardrobe change, toilet stop, bag drop, balloon collection and a few obligatory photos!

With Nat, going for a sub-2 hour, and Beck, hoping for the best but with no real expectations!
With the very awesome Paul Kitching, hoping to catch a ride on my 2:15 bus! Thanks PK for the photo!

It wasn’t too long before we were lined up at the start – I positioned myself between Gary, pacing 2:06 (6 minutes per km) and the 2:30 pacer.

Ready to roll!
One of my favourite pics of the day – thanks Sputnik for this start line pic!

I started my watch on the gun, aiming to cross the finish line in exactly (or just a few seconds under) 2:15. By my calculation that would be exactly 10am.

Unlike my first time pacing, I managed to hit my goal pace of 6:21-6:23 within the first 3km.

Official photo. From near the start where it looks like I have friends!

I didn’t have many people running with me throughout the 21.1km but one person I did run with for a short while was PK. He was behind me in the above pic, he was ahead of me for a while, and for a little while we ran together and had a nice chat – thanks PK!

The first hint that pacing might be a bit of a guessing game, was when my watch showed 4.8km as I reached the 5km marker. With GPS being notoriously inaccurate, I couldn’t rely 100% on what my watch told me.

One of the great things about this event is that you get to see the other runners quite a few times – both those who are waaaaay ahead, and those who are towards the back of the pack, including regular running/walking buddy Neil, who was the sweeper for the half marathon. We also saw the marathoners, although we mainly just saw the super fast guys and the people who were behind the 4 hour pacers. I didn’t seem to cross paths with the ‘middle of the pack’ people!

Among the ‘super fast guys’ was actually a woman, you may have heard of her, her name is Jess Trengove and she was the ambassador for the event. She was a great person to have out there, as she was so encouraging to everyone and really seemed to be enjoying herself! And afterwards she was more than happy to pose for pics with anyone!

Thanks to Ali, left of pic and undisputed Queen of the Selfie, for this awesome pic! And thanks to Jess for being part of it!

Unlike the previous weekend’s City2Surf, there weren’t a lot of people in crazy costumes – I guess it’s hard enough to run a marathon or half marathon in normal running kit, let alone Batman costumes or the like! I did see one ‘Batwoman’ running the half, and later on at the coffee shop realised it was someone I knew, accomplished triathlete (and Ironman) Karen!

Also dressed up but not running in the event was my Boston buddy Maree, who dressed up as Supergirl and encouraged runners up one of the last little hills in the last few kilometres. She later said she was quite sore and wondered why, given that she hadn’t been in the event – but then realised she had effectively done a hill repeat session! I was running with fellow SARRC board member Megan at this stage, Megan and I had been running much of the second half of the race together, and Maree was great, encouraging Megan. At this point I started running a little bit ahead, partly to pull Megan along but also because I really wanted to come in as close to 2:15 on the finish line clock as I could.

Thanks to Steve Trutwin for this great picture of Megan and me, taken in Elder Park with just a few kilometres to go!
Beck and I with Maree after the race! The first thing I said to Maree when I saw her during the race, was “I might need to borrow that costume for my next event!”

As we passed the Adelaide Oval and the spot where we’d started the race, the 3 hour marathon pacers and their ‘bus’ passed me. Theoretically we should have been finishing at the same time (the marathon having started 45 minutes before the half) – that was when I realised my pacing may have been a little bit off!

I was on my own by this stage, Megan not far behind. And apparently there were a few other runners with their eyes firmly on my red balloon, but it wasn’t until afterwards that I found out that I DID actually have some ‘friends’ following my ‘bus’!

I remember the run up King William Road and then the left turn onto Pennington Tce last year being quite tough – Pennington Tce in particular seemed like quite a steep hill by then! This year was no different – although my legs were a little fresher, it was no less steep!

From Pennington we ran down the driveway into the northern carpark and up to the entrance of the Adelaide Oval where for many years I’d line up at the crack of dawn each day of the Adelaide Test match!

Through the gate I ran, up the ramp and onto the hallowed turf!

And then the most surreal thing happened! Earlier in the day, before we’d started, the Adelaide Marathon promotional video, of which I had been a part, was playing on high rotation on the big screens both outside the gates and inside the Oval. So as I ran onto the oval, I had the very weird experience of seeing my mug, larger than life, on the big screen! Definitely not something that happens every day!


Then I spotted Mick in the grandstand, he took a few pictures with his phone and sent them to me – thanks Mick!

Nigel No-Friends! Thanks Mick for this great pic!

I crossed the finish line in 2:15:21. I was pretty close to hitting my goal time but the problem was that my Garmin showed I’d run 21.3km instead of 21.1, which accounted for my slower than expected time, even though my average pace was 6:20 per kilometre, actually slightly faster than my goal pace of 6:21 – 6:23. It had to be either a GPS error, or me covering more ground than I needed to by trying to high five all of the kids! I know the course was accurately measured! Anyway, hopefully everyone that was trying to stick with me, managed to get under 2:15 despite my little miscalculation!

After getting my BEAUTIFUL medal I met up with a few of my running buddies who had run the 10k and the half (all of my friends in the half had thankfully been WELL ahead of me – none of them had wanted to see me after the start! Even Voula, who had said she’d run with Gary for a bit and then with me, had never made her way back to my bus! (Don’t worry Voula, I won’t take it personally!)

With Beck and Nat after the race. Both had come in under 2 hours!
Another great selfie by Ali! Nat’s very excited in the background! And Sally’s hair is showing how windy it was by this stage!
With Nat, Beck and Libby showing off our bling! Libby happy to get through under 2 hours after coming back from injury!

We had time for a quick coffee and wardrobe change before heading back to the finish line to see Max, Dana and Veronica finish their first marathons, and Peter finish his 3rd in 3 months!

Bling – check. Coffee – check. Feet up – check!

As always, there are a LOT of people to thank. Adelaide Marathon is the biggest event of the year for SARRC and it takes many people to make it happen!

In particular I need to give a big shout out to Race Director Ben Hockings who put on another stellar event. I always enjoy running (and/or volunteering at) your events Ben and this one was no exception! Luckily Ben is superhuman and does not require sleep! Because I don’t think he would have got much in race week!

Then there were the SARRC staff, including Cassandra, Lee-Ann and Harry, and Board vice-president Voula who put in a seemingly impossible number of hours on the day and in the weeks leading up, to make this event happen! (There were many others too, but they were the ones I was particularly aware of!)

Then of course there were all of the wonderful volunteers! HUGE thanks to each and every one of you! A particularly tough job was the marshal role, especially those who were in isolated spots and spent many hours standing there directing runners (no doubt many of whom were wearing headphones!) – special mention to Riesje, Ziad and Gary’s wife Joanne.

With the super awesome bike marshal Tracey who got many positive comments for her spectacular outfit and bubbly manner!

And of course, well done to all the runners, without whom there would be no event!

Will run for bling!

What a GREAT day!

Race report – City2Surf 2017

For some reason I decided 2017 was the year to give the iconic City2Surf another crack, along with 80000 of my closest friends, after having had a fantastic run 2 years ago, ‘rewarded’ with probably the most disappointing medal I’ve ever received!
It was my first ‘proper’ road race since Boston (I’m not including the Barossa half as I was a pacer there), and there were many parallels.
Firstly, it involved travel. I flew to Sydney on the Thursday, having got myself a bargain fare, for the race on Sunday. Secondly, it involved a huge crowd (30000-odd at Boston, and 80000 in Sydney). Weirdly though, I don’t really like big crowds!
Like at Boston, I didn’t have any huge expectations. I had run the 14km in under 64 minutes last time, and knew I wasn’t going to get close to that. Still, I was hoping to get under 70 minutes (and thereby justify my red bib and my starting position just behind the elites) but wasn’t super fussed if I did or I didn’t. Also like Boston, with the huge crowd and the way the city really gets behind the event, I thought, why not give my ‘JANE’ top another run? Because it was easy, I decided to go with my whole Boston outfit! (A happy coincidence was the rainbow arm warmers, very timely given that the marriage equality question is so prominent at the moment! I had a few people ask me about them, and I had to be honest and say it was just a coincidence but it was a pretty cool one!)
I had only managed one ‘proper’ run since the 12 hour event 5 weeks ago. That was last weekend’s Victor Harbor parkrun, and on a flat and largely devoid-of-wind track, I managed to get a sub-24 minute 5k. It didn’t exactly make me think sub-70 for 14k C2S was a certainty, but at least it was a chance! (The lure of vegan cupcakes may have made me run faster on that particular occasion!)
I flew to Sydney on Thursday – I thought I might have given myself a bit TOO much time in Sydney but I managed to fill my time without too much trouble! I got to the airport WAY too early (after the foiled terrorist plot a few weeks ago resulted in heightened security measures).
After dropping my stuff off at my cousin’s place, where I would be staying for most of the weekend, I made the long trek to DFO for a bit of retail therapy. For some unknown reason shopping does not really interest me when I’m at home, but when travelling it’s often the first thing I want to do!
On the way back I made a stop at the Cruelty-Free Store at Glebe and found vegan foodie heaven!
On Friday there was more shopping, eating and coffee drinking, this time in Newtown, my old stomping ground from when I lived in Sydney 10 years ago, and neighbouring Erskineville. Erskineville is just as I remember it but Newtown has changed a lot! The op shops are still there though, I spent most of the day browsing through those, as well as second hand record/CD/book shops.
Lunch was a ‘fish’ burger from Bliss & Chips, an all-vegan ‘fish’ and chip shop. I don’t know what they make their ‘fish’ from but it was sooo good!
And for dessert I stumbled upon an all-vegan gelato shop, Gelato Blue. I was spoiled for choice! Rather than my usual 2-3 flavour options, I had the pick of the whole store! I opted for coconut and pistachio – an excellent choice!
On Saturday I did a little parkrun tourism with Sydney running friends Rob and Richard. We went to Willoughby parkrun, a very interesting course including a lap around the oval to start with! We took it really easy, given we were all running C2S the next day, but Richard couldn’t resist a little push at the finish, beating Rob and me by 1 second!
With fellow Boston finisher Richard! Love the blue and yellow!
After parkrun and post-parkrun coffee in Crows Nest, I went to check out Paddington Market. It wasn’t really my scene, so I decided to make the journey to the Glebe Market instead – lots more stalls, second hand clothing and vegan food options (both within the market itself and on Glebe Point Road).
Lunch was a delicious ‘pulled pork’ burger from yet another all-vegan joint, Soul Burger. It’s perhaps a good thing none of these shops are in Adelaide!
I decided to stay at a hostel on Saturday night, the same one where Maree and I had stayed 2 years ago. An easy 5 minute walk to the start location. No messing around with buses and trains. Sounds perfect, right? I even booked a private room (shared bathroom though, but the room did have a TV – pretty swanky for a backpackers!)

I had a bunk bed, and even though I normally would prefer a bottom bunk, I went for the top, purely so I could see the TV! And I laid all my gear out on the bottom bunk – my own little private dressing room!

After I got settled in there, Sam came to meet me for dinner. We wandered down to Barangaroo, where I’d never been, and had a really nice Indian meal at Spiced by Billu’s (on the water) and shared a bottle of pinot noir. I wouldn’t normally opt for curry and half a bottle of wine on the eve of a race, but as I’d set reasonably low expectations, I figured it didn’t really matter! Dinner was followed by sorbet at the nearby gelato place (decision-making was not so difficult here!)

You know hostels are pretty basic. I was given a pillow case, a sheet and a blanket when I checked in. The sheet was so small it didn’t even cover the mattress. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to sleep on top of the sheet or under it. In the end I opted for the former. I know what hostels are like. I didn’t want any part of me touching that mattress which had undoubtedly seen some stuff over the years!

The pillow could be best described as feeling like a couple of bricks inside a pillow case. Not super comfy!

So I wrapped myself in the blanket like a burrito, but even so, I still got cold in the night. I couldn’t be arsed getting out of bed to get my hoodie off the bottom bunk, so I executed a daring manoeuvre – I leaned over the edge kind of like the way bats sleep hanging upside down, and somehow managed to grab the hoodie without falling head-first on the floor. Winning!

It wasn’t all bad though – I didn’t have any roommates so I was spared the usual hostel joys like snorers and amorous couples. I have had the ‘pleasure’ of both of these in the past and it was well worth the extra money to get a private room on this occasion!

I set my alarm for 5:45am but I was well and truly awake by 5:30 so I figured I might as well get going! I started the day the same way I started the day of the 12 hour event 5 weeks ago – with a little motivational music (‘Let’s Go’ by Def Leppard) only this time I went with headphones rather than the portable speaker. I presumed most of the clientele of the hostel would have only just made it to bed and probably would not have appreciated the unwelcome awakening! I needn’t have worried though – it seemed that everyone on my floor was also running C2S!
It was a warmish day so I decided sunscreen was needed – I had had to go and buy some, as I hadn’t factored it in to my packing plans (what with Adelaide’s Arctic conditions before I left!) I had a disposable hoodie which I did end up wearing but probably could have done without, and a disposable poncho that I had found during a decluttering spree a few weeks earlier, which most definitely would NOT be required.
Rob arrived at the hostel just before 6:30 so we could make the long 5 minute trek to the bag drop and then the start line. Our start time was 7:50am but the bag drop closed at 7am so we needed to be there before then. On the way we passed a Marriage Equality booth and were asked if we’d like to come and chat with Ian Thorpe – we said “no thanks, we have a race to get to!” In hindsight I probably should have stopped – I’m sure they would all have appreciated my rainbow arm warmers!
In the queue for the bag drop I saw 2 familiar faces from Adelaide, Rob and Des, within a minute! How Adelaide is that, you go to the biggest fun run in Australia (and I think maybe even the world) and don’t even get to the bag drop before you see 2 people you know!
We then made our way to the Red Bib start area via the portaloos, where I wondered if I’d made the right choice trying to run ‘properly’ rather than dressing up and just having a bit of fun! There was a woman dressed in a superhero costume right up front, who got interviewed! There was also a guy in a white suit, Afro wig and sunglasses – I called him Disco Stu, I presume that was the look he was going for! Most of the Red Bib runners that I saw were ‘serious’ runners though. I got to meet a whole lot of the guys and girls from Rob’s running club in Sydney, the Turramurra Trotters.
Psyched at the start line!
Just a small section of the Red Bib crew!

After the traditional national anthem we were away! Unlike last time, I managed to keep my feet at the starting mat – so far so good!

C2S is known for the notorious Heartbreak Hill, all 1.6km of it, but the rest of it is not exactly flat, nor is it all downhill. In fact the start seemed to be a little uphill! I had decided not to look at my watch where possible, and I had set a slow alert of 6 minutes per km, only so I would be alerted if my GPS stopped for some reason. (I was pretty sure I would also be going slower than 6 minutes per km up HBH but that didn’t really matter. What mattered was that the run was recorded in its entirety so I could put it on Strava – because we all know, if it’s not on Strava…)
Other than a guy pushing past me on my left (when I was running as close to the left of the road as I thought was possible), the crowd was not a negative factor for me at all – a few people accidentally bumped me but apologised which was nice!
The 14km route was lined with crowds of people and live entertainment. I didn’t find out until a few days later that among the army and police bands entertaining the runners and spectators, was legendary Aussie rock band You Am I!
So I wasn’t looking at my watch during the run, but on looking at the Strava data later, I was sitting on 29:17 at the 6km mark, just before the start of HBH. I’m not sure what I would have made of that had I known it at the time – I knew HBH would slow me right down, but who knew if the downhill bits that followed, would make up for any time lost on HBH?
The Strava segment for HBH is 1.3km with 85m elevation. In the official results it’s 1.6km. I did that 1.6km in 9:13. Out of the 3 segments (start to HBH, HBH itself and HBH to finish), I was ranked lowest in the HBH section. Not really surprising since I’ve sworn off hills for most of the year!
Just a little speed bump!

According to Strava, the rest of the run from HBH to the finish was downhill or flat. There were definitely some little uphills in there though – I kept wondering when this big downhill was going to come!

The 12th and 13th kilometres were definitely downhill and were a lot of fun to fly down! I still had no idea what time I was sitting on, but I thought I might as well give it a crack! (There was a time clock at the 10km mark but I managed to avoid looking at it!) If Strava is accurate my time there would have been 50:38. That was just off 5 minute/km pace but if I’d known there was some nice downhills coming, I probably would have thought I was a chance of getting that sub-70!)
I did make up a bit of ground in the overall rankings in that last section. I’d dropped significantly in the rankings on HBH but I finished in a higher position than I had been in BEFORE HBH. My strength traditionally has been in my finishing – I tend to start conservatively and reel people in towards the end. It’s a great feeling!
When we had about 1.3km to go I accidentally saw a clock and somehow managed to do some quick mental maths to work out that sub-70 was definitely on the cards!
The last kilometre or so was a bit different to the last time I ran C2S. We ran seemingly MILES up Campbell Parade, past the beach, before making a tight U-turn and heading back to the finish. I had really picked up the pace by now – when we first approached the beach and I could see (on one of the rare looks at my watch) that we still had nearly 1k to go, I had managed to resist putting on a final burst, but with only a few hundred metres to go, I decided to leave nothing out there!
As I approached the finish line I saw the clock and it was just on 69 minutes, and I KNEW I had it! I was so pumped, there was much screaming and cheering and fist pumping! It was probably the most excited I’d been to see a finish line time clock, since I realised I had broken the 60 minute mark in my first City-Bay Fun Run back in 2013 (and on that occasion, I did not even have a watch, so I was pacing entirely by feel!)
I was pleased when I was handed my medal and it was VASTLY superior to the Westpac ad that I was given 2 years ago!
The gear collection was a bit of a shambles – it was kind of like bingo where you held up your bib and waited for your number to be called! Still, the weather was lovely so it wasn’t all bad, to be able to stand out and enjoy the sunshine!
Can’t wipe the smile off my face!
From there, Rob and I went to meet the rest of his running buddies, I took a few pics with a few of the costumed runners (including the previously mentioned Disco Stu!) before we all went for a well earned beverage at Icebergs!
Disco Stu!
Last time I got a pic with Superman, this time it was Batman!
Of course the guy in the onesie beat me!
Perfect way to rehydrate after an awesome run!
Rob and I timed our exit perfectly, managing to get onto the bus that was already waiting near Icebergs, and then taking a train from Bondi Junction back to the city.
It was another brilliant day – I think my lack of expectation made for a much more enjoyable experience than it otherwise might have been! The weather was perfect, the crowd was awesome, and I managed to achieve my goal which I was not at all expecting!
The main reason why I came back to run it again was to get a decent medal. I did not think I would do another one after this, hence the reason why I wasn’t too fussed whether or not I managed to retain my sub-70 Red Bib status. Now, I am sure I will be back again before too long! If for no other reason, than to spend another weekend in the beautiful Harbour City!
This view NEVER gets old!
Thanks SO much to my awesome cousin Hope for the amazing Sydney hospitality, and to Rob (and Richard and the rest of the Trotters) and Sam for the catch ups over the weekend!
We MUST do this again soon!

Hello Mojo!

Well it’s now been 4 weeks since the 12 hour epic and I was beginning to wonder if and when I’d ever get back to running ‘properly’ again!

Saturday was my first ‘proper’ parkrun since the one I ran in Mount Gambier about 6 weeks ago. Even that day, I was holding back a bit, saving myself for the Tower Trail half marathon the following day.

I opted to make the journey down to Victor Harbor parkrun, because they were celebrating their 3rd birthday, with birthdays always come cake, and with Victor Harbor birthdays come VEGAN cake! It’s also a fast, flat course (albeit often with a fairly nasty headwind one way) so it was the perfect way to try to get a bit of speed back!

Beautiful morning for it!
One of my favourite parkruns!

I ran a respectable 23:16, much slower than I have previously run in my 8 parkruns at Victor, but my fastest in nearly 2 months and my second fastest in 4 months. The wind wasn’t much of a factor, I felt like I had something left in the tank, and the cakes were well worth the long drive!

Where was the pot of gold?
Even better than gold – a veritable crapload of vegan cupcakes!
And afterwards I got to test drive one of the AWESOME new Vegan Beast Mode Team tops by Mekong Athletic!

Next on the agenda was something completely different. I was volunteering at a trail race at Mount Crawford the following day. A lot of people had planned to camp there the night before, and I thought that might be a bit fun, so I signed up despite not having a tent! Not to worry, Tracey had one I could borrow. On the day, Tracey (along with a LOT of other people) decided the weather was too gnarly for camping, but still offered to get the tent to me somehow. I decided that if the weather was looking pretty horrendous, I might as well sleep in the car – at least the car wouldn’t leak or blow away (hopefully!)

So from Victor I made my way home to collect my stuff and then made the long drive up to Mount Crawford, planning to get there well before dark so I could get my bearings! I made it in plenty of time, and parked near where fellow runners Kristy and Trevor were swagging. Most of the hardcore campers were still going with tents!

We went to the local pub in Birdwood for a meal (I had a very nice curry) and then back to the campsite, by which time the rain had started. It would continue for much of the night and on and off the next day. I went to find the hut with the open fire, trying to warm up a bit with a glass of wine and some chocolate while Linda was toasting marshmallows! Even though it was still early it seemed much later (I guess I’d had a long day of driving!) so I hit the ‘hay’ reasonably early, listening to the end of the footy on the car radio and reading a few chapters of my book before attempting to get comfortable in the Corolla!

Snug as a bug in a rug! Still with very cold feet!

It wasn’t the worst, I had the seat reclined right back and changed position often. I figured it couldn’t be any worse than trying to sleep on a plane!

I woke up naturally just before my alarm and all I had to do was throw some clothes on and make my way across the campsite to the registration tent. I was lucky enough to have 2 ‘undercover’ jobs – firstly registration manager, then MC. I felt for the people manning the drink stations and the car park – in the rain!

Look at all those bibs!

There were over 900 people registered but the forecast nasty weather deterred quite a lot of them – there were a few hundred no-shows, and quite a few people decided on the day to ‘downgrade’ to a shorter distance. Amazingly, 6 people registered at the last minute, even knowing EXACTLY what they were getting themselves into!

The 35k run was the first to start, a short hailstorm coinciding nicely with the start of that event! Then an hour later was the 24k, then an hour after that the 13k. As soon as the 13k had started, we packed up the leftover bibs, and the registration tent was taken down. I had about half an hour to spare before I would need to be in position to call the first finishers over the line.

The timing system was really good. There was a timing point about 100m from the finish line, and the timing guy, Malcolm, gave me an iPad with live results on it. At that stage nothing was happening, but when the runners started to reach the last timing point, their names would pop up on the iPad so I could announce them as they approached the finish. At times there were a LOT of runners coming through at once, hopefully I didn’t miss any of them!

Seriously though… who gives me a microphone?

I had fun! I had wondered how I was supposed to know who was coming, considering I didn’t know more than half of the runners, but the system worked really well! Unfortunately we had a few technical issues with the PA system, and I wasn’t able to call the later finishers over the line, as Claire had needed to take the microphone away to do the official presentations. But it’s definitely a job I’d be happy to do again!

I stayed right till the bitter end, when 35k sweeper Ziad came back. I realised how important it is to make sure you let someone know if you don’t start or finish, because first aid officer Susan was calling around all the people who were ‘unaccounted for’, some of whom had not actually started the race! By the time Ziad got back, all the runners were accounted for which was good!\par
MASSIVE congratulations to all the runners who completed this event, the conditions were challenging to say the least! And also kudos to the volunteers that had much harder jobs than I did!

Other than warm clothes, gumboots were probably the most important piece of kit I had on the day!

This morning I finally went to see physio and running buddy Beck to try to get this hip flexor issue that has been bugging me since the 12 hour, sorted once and for all! Happily it seems to be something that will be relatively easily fixed if I do the right thing and do my exercises!

Which brings me to next weekend – the City2Surf. Up until Saturday’s parkrun I was debating how I would approach it. The 2 options were: Plan A to run it ‘properly’ if I thought a sub-70 minute finish was achievable (it’s 14km so that’s 5 minute kms), and if I thought that was unlikely, Plan B I would dress up and just run for fun, like so many people do in this event! After Saturday I am confident that Plan A is a goer!

Decision making on the run!

If you’re a runner, at some point you would have made a big decision during a run, either in consultation with one or more of your running buddies, or when a solo run gives you that clarity you’ve been searching for!

I heard somewhere that if runners ruled the world, there would be no wars. Everything would be sorted out during a long run, or the post-run coffee (which, if you’re doing it properly, lasts longer than the run itself!)
Sometimes decisions are made, sometimes a decision you’ve already pretty much made is confirmed.

The best part of the run!

A little while back, I was pretty close to deciding to change from the 6 hour event to the 12 hour event, when I mentioned to Beck during one of our weekday runs that I was “having second thoughts” about the 6 hour. She, of course, knew that couldn’t mean I was thinking about pulling out, and that it must mean I was thinking of doing the 12 hour. By the end of that run, I had 100% decided that was exactly what I was going to do.

It was during another of these morning runs that we discussed my thoughts of not running the Yurrebilla 56km Ultramarathon, given my lack of trail running this year. Again, by the end of that run, I had decided that I was going to email the volunteer coordinator to get my name on the volunteer list. To stop me from changing my mind!

And just a few weeks ago it was during a Sunday run that (after the coach put the idea in my head) a full week’s break from running would be a really good idea.

That break ended on Tuesday with a reasonably comfortable and steady morning run. Thursday I decided to change it up a bit and make one of my bi-annual appearances at one of the Sema4 WRG runs. I ran 10km and the last 2km was nice and fast, thanks to Chantal, using her run as a speed session, who stayed just far enough ahead of me to make me think I could catch her. I managed to pull out a 4:45 last kilometre, which I haven’t done in who knows how long!

I also went back to speed training on Friday for the first time in 6-7 weeks. 8 x 400 was a bit of a shock to the system and it wasn’t until about the 6th rep that I got properly warmed up and started doing some reasonably fast laps! There were only 4 of us runners out there (the 5:30am start on a chilly winter’s morning really sorts out the fair weather runners!) – just 3 fast guys and me!

I didn’t really have a set distance I wanted to cover on Sunday – somewhere between 14km and 21.1km. 14km because that is the distance of my next event, the City2Surf in 2 weeks, and I hadn’t run that far since the 12 hour (now 3 weeks ago!) 21.1km because I’d signed up to be a pacer for the Adelaide half marathon in 3 weeks. Beck was planning to run around 18km as was Nat, so I thought that sounded like a reasonable plan!

At first the run felt really hard! I kept looking at my watch and couldn’t believe how little distance we’d covered – it felt like it had to be twice that! Not a good sign!

And then I started chatting to Beck about my upcoming runs.

City2Surf I would be running regardless. I’ve booked my flights, organised accommodation, booked annual leave, and I’m pretty sure City2Surf doesn’t do refunds. I can either run it ‘properly’ if I think I can scrape in under 70 minutes and thereby retain my coveted red bib, or if I don’t think that’s going to happen, I can dress up and just run it for fun, like so many people do! It doesn’t really matter about the red bib anyway, as I probably won’t run it again, and if I do, I’ll have other runs I can use as evidence to be able to obtain a red bib. If I decide to run it ‘just for fun’ I’ll start near the back of the red bibs, well behind the competitors, to avoid a repeat of 2 years ago when a particularly ‘enthusiastic’ runner knocked me over at the start line!

But on the plus side, I did get to meet Superman!

Adelaide half marathon I was signed up to be 2 hour pacer. I hadn’t run 21.1km since the 12 hour, and I wasn’t going to get another opportunity to do the distance before the event. Sunday’s run was a bit slow – we did pick up the pace a bit towards the end so we finished with a respectable 5:45 pace, but at the time we were discussing it we were sitting on 6 minutes per kilometre, and I knew I was going to need to pull out 5:35-5:38 to run under 2 hours. And 6 minutes didn’t exactly feel easy!

Good times early in the run!

So the decision was made to pull out of being the 2 hour pacer. I might do the 10km (just so I get to run on the Adelaide Oval) but would not expect any great things.

And I also all but decided not to run City-Bay this year. That’s not till late September, but I can’t see me getting back to close to PB form by then. And if I can’t run WELL under 60 minutes, I don’t want to do it at all!

This week’s Sunday run featured 2 post-run coffees. The first one was at the Lion, where I told everyone about my plan for the Adelaide Marathon Festival. I’d enter the 10k (I have a free entry anyway, so if I had to pull out at the last minute, it wouldn’t cost me anything) and just run it for fun. Sure, I’d try to go hard if I could, but if that didn’t work out I’d just enjoy it!

After most of the runners had left (including Beck and Nat) a few of us went across the road to Cibo where the rest of the runners were. I like the coffee better at the Lion, plus you get chocolates with your coffee there, which just so happen to be vegan!) I got to chatting with Voula about my plans, and got as far as getting coach Kent’s phone number so I could give him plenty of time to find another 2 hour pacer, when somehow the idea was put in my head that I could pace 2:15 instead. I did some quick calculations and that is about 6:24 minutes per kilometre. Yes – I could definitely do that!

So by the end of second coffee I’d texted Kent to tell him I’d be the 2:15 pacer if they didn’t already have one (Voula had already told me there wasn’t a 2:15 pacer) and so I was back running the 21.1km again!
Funny how these things happen! You make a pretty firm decision during a run and pretty much reverse it during coffee!

Anyway, it’s great to be back running again and I’m looking forward to pacing a whole different group of people at Adelaide!