Well it’s been nearly 2 months since my last blog post. An unusually quiet period for me in terms of events! So I thought I’d better do an event!
The Summer Trail Series is a 4 race series from December to March, with a short and long course for each event. You can enter the whole series, or you can enter race by race – the series gets you a discount, and there are also age group trophies at the end of the series as great incentive to commit to the 4 races! I’ve never managed to do the full series, but last year I did 3 out of the 4 races and managed to sneak in for 3rd place in my age group.
I wasn’t doing the series this year. The December race coincided with the Adelaide Test match, and it was just going to be too much of a rush to do the race, get home, and be at the cricket in time for the 10am start. I have another event on which clashes with the March race. So at best I could do 2 out of the 4 races.
Back in December, just before Race 1, I received a pre-event briefing email which I thought was weird because, as I said above, I wasn’t doing the series this year. Just to make sure, I checked the start list – and there was my name! I had totally entered the series and forgotten all about it!
Fast forward to this weekend, and I was throwing a few options around. Option 1 was a charity bike ride, associated with the Tour Down Under. Karen and I had tentatively planned to do the 80km ride. It would have been my longest ever ride. Except, I hadn’t been on the bike since Murray Man, over 2 months ago. I think I kind of needed to build up to that. Option 2 was a long training run for the Track 100km which is now just under 2 weeks ago and for which I am grossly undertrained. (The Track 100km was another good reason not to do a bike ride – I have a rather spectacular scar on my knee from Murray Man weekend to remind me why a bike ride so close to a big event is NOT a good idea!)
Option 3 was to run the 10km at Cleland. I’d never run this particular event in the series before, because it had always coincided with my being in Thredbo. No Thredbo this year meant a rare opportunity to run this race! A 10km trail run sounded a lot more appealing than a 3 hour loop run or a long hot bike ride. Plus, I’d already paid for it! I might as well run it!
It was very close to the area where I do a lot of my trail running, but on trails I rarely run on. So that was pretty cool!
It was surprisingly cold and windy in the morning, many of us (myself included) rocking up in shorts and singlet, anticipating a hot one. My fingers actually went white before we started! Still, we knew that once we got moving, we’d warm up quickly!
I also had on a small race vest with a snake bandage (precautionary – highly unlikely to be needed in these conditions) and 2 small bottles of Gatorade (because this was a ‘cupless’ event, plus I prefer not to stop at the drink stations in the shorter races if at all possible!)
On the way from the carpark to the start/finish area, we walked past a koala just hanging out, halfway up a tree, wondering what all the fuss was about!
As always there were a lot of familiar faces there, including Scuba and Chantal, who I hadn’t seen for AGES!
The short and long courses both started together. I was probably a bit close to the front for my liking (we had assembled to listen to the race briefing, and in hindsight I probably should have been a bit further back!)
I didn’t really have any expectations. Given that I wasn’t doing the series, I wasn’t even fussed about age group placings. It was just nice to be out there, doing something different!
The start was a bit tricky, with a VERY tight left turn only about 100m from the start, while we were all quite bunched up. Luckily there were no pile-ups around here (at least not that I saw!)
The first little bit was relatively easy, a nice little downhill to get the legs turning over. We soon hit the first hill, and I tried to go for as long as I could without walking, but it wasn’t too long before I started walking up one of the hills. (I may or may not have been influenced by seeing people in front of me walking!)
I ended up walking a fair bit on the hills, and was surprised by how fast some of the other runners overtook me running the ups! (One of them, Toby, was returning from injury so was walking quite a lot but always seemed to catch me on the uphills!)
I mentioned earlier how it was cold. I had brought gloves, not for warmth but for protection in case of a fall. I had put them in my race vest before I left the house, so I couldn’t forget them. And promptly forgot they were in there so didn’t put them on! (Luckily, I didn’t fall! Winning!)
Part way into the race the tips of the 4th and 5th fingers on both hands went purple. I was going to ask first aid superstar Susan about it when I finished but they had returned to their normal colour by then!
Somewhere around the 4-5km mark the short and long courses split, with trail running legend (and I don’t use that term lightly!) Kym telling us all where to go!
The only wildlife sighting of the run came near one of the drink stations towards the end of the race, when a big kangaroo bounded onto the track. I saw the movement from a distance, and was surprised when I approached the drink station, to see him just sitting there, not remotely bothered by all the people running past! Eventually he went back into the bushes – I was a bit tempted to get my phone out and get a pic, but it was a race after all, and I see roos pretty much every time I go out on the trails!
At one point we were accompanied by a LOT of walkers going the other way at which point I realised we were on the main Mount Lofty track. Even at what most people would consider an ungodly hour on a coolish Sunday morning, it’s easy to see why the Lofty track is ‘affectionately’ known as the ‘Lorna Jane Highway’! (If you’re not familiar with Lofty, this video should sum it up for you! And if you are familiar, it will give you a good laugh!)
I was glad we were only on that track for a short time – it’s pretty much like running on a road, the dirt and gravel tracks are much more pleasant to run on!
The course was billed as 10km but at the briefing RD Ben said it was about 500m shorter due to the start line having to be moved. Consequently, when I got to 9km I knew there couldn’t be too far to go! I was running just behind Michelle, who I USED to be able to keep up with but not anymore!
We ran through the carpark so I knew the end was in sight. I did seriously consider, if I ran past my car, stopping to get my Keep Cup out on the way to the finish line – coffee was at the front of my mind! I didn’t see my car though so I didn’t have to make that call!
We turned off out of the carpark and the finish line was right there – albeit with a sneaky nasty little uphill finish! And as I was cruising up the hill I heard Scuba yell out that someone was catching me. So I sprinted! I finished just ahead of a group of 3 guys including Toby (I have to mention this as it is probably the one and only time I will ever finish ahead of him in a race!)
I just snuck in under the hour and made a beeline to the Stir Express coffee van (outstanding coffee as always thanks Neil!). I was certain I’d put some money in my pocket but I guess I hadn’t, and I couldn’t remember where my car actually was, so Scuba kindly offered to shout me – cheers Scuba!
Quick shout out to regular running buddy Arwen who was out there with me, still powering on at 38 weeks pregnant! I don’t think I would have been able to remain upright on a trail run with my centre of gravity so far forward but she managed to get through it without incident! A poster girl for active pregnancy!
Thanks as always to Ben and all the volunteers for doing your thing – it is very much appreciated! Maybe see you at the next one!