The Yumigo! Summer Trail Series is a fantastic series of trail races in beautiful surrounds, mainly in the Adelaide metropolitan area. Each of the 4 events, taking place in December, January, February and March, has a short and a long option – the distances getting longer each time! There are cumulative points that go towards trophies at the end of the series – overall winners as well as age group winners.
If you have been reading my blog for a while you might have seen my previous post about the only other race in the series that I ran – December’s opening race at Anstey Hill. If not, you can find it at this link:
The final event of the series was at Newland Head, near the popular seaside destination of Victor Harbor. This was a bit more of a hike for the city dwellers, although a sleep-in for the locals and the southerners! It was quite close to the starting point for the Heysen 105 which I did for the first (and probably not the last) time last year.
I had entered at the last minute. I had always intended to run, but I couldn’t decide whether to do the short (11km) or long (19.5km) course. I had run the long course at Anstey Hill, however I was not in contention for any of the overall series prizes, so it didn’t really matter which course I went with. Eventually I decided to do the long, because I didn’t want to spend less time running than it took to drive there!
It’s been a pretty hectic week, with all the Fringe events I’ve been going to. A planned early night on Friday night fell by the wayside when I decided to go to a late show and got home at 2am. 5 hours later I was up for parkrun. I managed a sub-22 minute 5km for the second consecutive week – I wasn’t sure how that would affect my legs for Sunday’s race.
I had a reasonably early night on Saturday night – not before catching another Fringe show – I think that’s 19 shows so far for this Fringe! I had all my gear ready to go before I went out, except I hadn’t decided what top to wear. I had gone with my old faithfuls – my newish trail shoes, calf compression sleeves, black running socks, and my Skins and black lululemon skirt which I have worn for most of my trail events. I had my small race vest – I was expecting to be out there for a few hours, and I’m not sure what the forecast was for Victor but in Adelaide it was going to be in the high 30s, so I needed some hydration on board. I put 1 litre in the bladder and 500mL of sports drink in the bottles – I didn’t want to fill the bladder any more as that would weigh me down and be uncomfortable, and I don’t tend to drink a great deal during races.
On race day I woke up at 5am and did all the last minute preparation, including choosing a top. I ended up going with the Mekong Athletic singlet which I’d purchased from a pop-up store at the previous Summer Trail Series event, at which I’d volunteered. I had run in it once, on an 18km road run a few weeks ago, and found it very comfortable. The mesh in the back in particular was very cooling, and despite the fact I would be wearing a backpack, I thought it would help keep me cool. Plus, (and this is not a minor consideration by any means) I loved the colour!
I had studied the directions of how to get there, and having been in a similar area for a social trail run a few weeks ago, I was pretty confident I could find my way. As it turned out I got there in plenty of time to collect my bib and timing chip, and join the seemingly endless queue for the portaloos! As always there were a lot of familiar faces there, many of whom I see regularly but others who I tend to see only at the trail races.
Despite the fact that it rained while I was driving and for much of the lead-up to the start, I sunscreened up, put on my hat and had my sunnies with me. By the time the race started at 8am, it had stopped raining, and while the sun hadn’t exactly come out, conditions were ideal for running.
So, at 8:00 both the short and long course runners started together. Straight up a hill! The first km was pretty much all uphill, and immediately the thought sprang into my head,”WHY did I not do the short course???” To make matters worse, there was also soft sand! I knew about the sand – I’d seen it recently at the social trail run and also last year at the Heysen 105. I don’t like running in sand. I like walking in it, and lying in it, but NOT running! It became a challenge to try to find the easiest path, avoiding the soft sand at all costs. Mostly I would be running on the very edge of the bush. The thought of snakes did pop into my head, but at that point I would have preferred a possibly snake sighting to definite sand running! Plus, my legs were a bit tired (and stiff from the drive down) and there was a LOOOOOONG way to go!
I ran with Kate for the first few km, I hadn’t run with her in a while so it was nice to catch up. We had done a lot of our marathon training together in the last 2 years and regularly ran together on a Thursday. She was hoping for an age group win in the series (spoiler alert – she got it!) and I said I wasn’t going to race it, I was just out for a bit of fun. Plus I had no chance of winning anything – the only other race I’d done in the series, I’d finished 5th female overall. And 4th in my age group! Talk about being born at the wrong time!
The first 3km or so were uphill, then we hit a few nice downhill kms. All of a sudden I was enjoying myself, pulling out a couple of sub-5 minute kms and letting my legs have a break, just coasting down the hills with minimal effort.
The course, which I thankfully hadn’t studied prior to the race, was very well marked so there was no danger of getting lost. I say “thankfully hadn’t studied” because there were (I think) 3 out-and-back sections which did mess with my head a bit. I think they would have messed with my head more if I’d known about them in advance!
In one way it was nice to see all the fast people coming back while we were still going out. On the other hand I could see just how many people were in front of me! One of those fast people was Leon, who is doing the Big Red Run in June, 6 days in the Simpson Desert. (I MIGHT do that one day. It’s not on my immediate radar but having been to an info night last year, it does look mighty tempting!) He, unlike most of us, was seeking out the soft sand – it was ideal training for his big event! He had a clear path too, since most of us were avoiding it!
After about 7km I think, we came to a fork in the road. Otherwise known as a drink station. This was the point where the short course and the long course runners separated. This brought with it more thoughts of “WHY did I not do the short course?”. I had hoped that the females I could see in front of me leading up to the drink station were doing the short course but nope – they were going left with me!
Did I say I wasn’t racing today and I was just doing it for fun? I lied. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I should have known. If it’s a race, I get the white line fever. Even in parkrun which is not technically a race. If there is a run that has timing and placings, I seem to be incapable of just doing it for fun! Hence the reason why I rarely do a parkrun the day before a bit event! I was racing. I may not have been competitive but I was most definitely racing!
10km came and went and I thought to myself, “we got this.” More than halfway there! (And no, I didn’t break into the chorus of ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ as is traditional! In fact there was no singing in this race!)
A few fairly flat kms later, I hit the next big hurdle which was a hill pretty much equal to the one at the start. Except, by now my legs were pretty damn tired! At no point though did I think of walking. Well, I thought of it but I was determined to keep running. Not necessarily because it would be faster than walking (as many runners would know, sometimes walking up a hill can be faster than running) but because once I started walking it would be hard to get going again. For this reason I didn’t stop at any of the drink stations even though they had Coke! I had enough fuel on board to keep me going, and I could keep myself motivated with thoughts of Coke at the finish line!
Someone said to me at the last turnaround, with approximately 3.5km to go, that there was “less than a parkrun to go!”. It wasn’t exactly comforting to me, because I like to race parkrun, so thinking of 3.5km of parkrun I was thinking of running to my absolute limit, rather than having ‘only’ 3.5km left to run!
The 17th km was probably the worst. Uphill. More sand. I was behind Matt and Robbie, 2 regular trail runners. I may have sworn a few times. I may have said “This SUCKS. I HATE THIS!” more than once!
The last 2.5km though were pretty much all downhill, on firm ground, and quite enjoyable! I didn’t let myself look at my watch at all except when it vibrated to indicate that I had completed another km. I find that especially towards the end of a race I find myself looking at my watch increasingly frequently. And more often than not only covering about 100m between looks at my watch! So I just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other, and not falling over. There were a few tricky sections of trail, some quite rocky and very conducive to rolled ankles. I nearly went over several times!
Finally my watch alerted me that I’d completed 19km and therefore there was around 500m to go. Piece of cake! I did the last 500m (actually according to my watch it was 600m) at 4:09 min/km pace, by far the fastest of my race so far. Not surprising really – I do like a strong finish and I probably tend to hold myself back in the preceding km or so to allow myself to finish with a burst of speed! There was a guy in front of me – I didn’t really want to pass him but he was running at that awkward pace, just a little slower than I was trying to run. So I called out “GO GO GO” to him so he knew I was there and could pick up the pace to avoid being “chicked”! (Mind you, had it been another girl in front of me, I would probably have just gone for it – did I mention I tend to get a bit competitive?)
My official time was 1:46:29. Having not had a time in mind for this race, I was very happy with that. I was 38th overall out of 106 starters and 8th out of 44 females, and once again 4th out of 21 in my age group, behind the same 3 girls who beat me at Anstey Hill (albeit in a different order), Bronwyn, Sarah and Kazu! Did I mention before that 30-39 Females is a very competitive age group? 21 out of the 44 females in the race were in my age group, and 3 of the top 4!
After the presentations, in which many of my friends won age group and overall prizes, regular running buddy Karen and her husband Daryl and I went for a lovely cruisy bike ride along the coast. The weather was perfect and it was a great way to give the legs some recovery and make the most of the trip Down South. (I had intended to go for a swim too but after the bike ride it was getting late and the fatigue was starting to set in – not the best for a longish drive home – so I decided to forgo the swim). We were really lucky with the weather too because thunderstorms hit during the drive home!
So what’s next? Well trail-wise the next big event is the Cleland Trail Championships next month – which will probably be my last big trail hit-out before the Ultra-Trail Australia 100km race in May! I’m really looking forward to Cleland because after choosing not to run it for the last 2 years because of clashes with other events, I’m finally doing my first one this year!
Thanks again to Ben and all the fantastic volunteers for a wonderful trail series! Hopefully I’ll be able to run all 4 events next summer!