Race report – CBR.48 (12hr)

This event had made my 2019 schedule for a couple of reasons. One, my sister had recently moved to Canberra and it was a great opportunity for a visit! Two, it was another chance to test myself out on loops over a shorter time period before the Adelaide 24 hour in July.

Training was not quite what I had planned – since the SA Track Championships in late January (7 weeks) I had managed 1 x 3 hour and 2 x 4 hour runs. One of the 4 hour runs was MEANT to be a 6 hour run but it was so damn hot that week that I cut it short and it was too late in the piece to reschedule it. Still – I am pretty comfortable with the concept. Not my first rodeo!

I only did one run that week – a trail run around Chambers Gully. Because 3 weeks after CBR I have a trail ultra. Someone needs to teach me about planning events better…

CBR is BIG. Well not in terms of numbers – from memory about 125 entries across the marathon, 6hr, 12hr, 24hr and 48hr – but in terms of the quality of the field. (Clearly they’ll let anyone in, but I would be surrounded with some seriously good athletes!)

The events were staggered over the weekend. The 48 hour, being the flagship event, started first, at midday on Friday, and was also the last to finish. The marathon was run on Friday night (with no cutoff time but they were all well and truly finished by the time I arrived at 11am on Saturday. The 24 hour was 3 hour in when the 6 and 12 hours started at midday on Saturday. That meant that for the first 6 hours of the 12 hour, almost all the participants were at the track which made for a great atmosphere.

The 48 hour being the Main Event and the 6 and 12 starting 24 hours later, there wasn’t a lot of available space trackside. Luckily for me, I wasn’t planning to spend much time trackside, and consequently didn’t have much stuff. But the 48 hour runners had some pretty impressive setups! At the front by the track were the shelters for crews with tables and chairs and all of the food and drink, and behind that were the tents in which the runners would sleep. I expect to be able to get by with maybe a few hours kip during the 24 hour, but in the 48 hour event sleep is more necessary!

I was advised that I could set up anywhere I could find space, so I ended up in a spot in between 2 marquees. I had 4 bags – 2 cooler bags (one for food and one for drinks), one bag of other stuff I might need during the race (iPod, spare socks, arm warmers etc) and finally a bag of stuff for AFTER the race (hoodie, trackpants, sandals, towel). That was it. I like to keep it simple!

My spot!

The timing of the race was different to what I’ve experienced in the past. Previous events of similar distance/time (100km or 12 hour) had been run either from 6am to 6pm, or overnight (7pm to 7am). Midday to midnight was different – at least we’d warm up quickly! Also it meant a nice sleep in on race morning!

It would also be good practice for running through the night, in preparation for the 24 hour.

The goal, as always, was to get over 100km.

On the original start list there were 3 women, but when I checked again on race eve there were 4. Damn, there went my guaranteed podium finish! Oh well – I’d have to go out and work for it, I guess!

And then, as we lined up at the start, there were definitely only 3 women in the 12 hour – so I’d be taking a trophy home after all!

I saw a few familiar faces in the 6 hour, Kerrie who had beaten me in the Adelaide 12 hour last year (I was VERY happy to see her not in my event!) and Brendan Davies who most of my running friends would be familiar with. He was going to be fun to watch in the 6 hour!

Also there was Cathie, who I’d done a few races with in Adelaide, who was crewing for 2 people but told me to let her know if I needed anything and she’d help me out if she could!

The plan was the same as usual. I saw no reason to change it. Run 25 minutes and walk 5 and eat while walking. Caffeine every 2 hours. Keep the run/walk going as long as possible and then re-evaluate.

My nutrition consisted of 5 PB sandwiches. As it was a 400m track and I was trying to be nice to the planet, instead of individually wrapping each quarter sandwich so I could pocket it until it was needed, I managed to fit them all into an airtight container. I wasn’t convinced they’d stay fresh but I figured by the end I wouldn’t be too bothered if they were a bit stale! My sister Emma lent me a container and when I started stacking them vertically she decided that they were ‘Kondoed’. The added benefit of Kondoing my sandwiches was that I could see the fillings at a glance. Never mind that they were all the same!

I also had some protein balls, caramelised peanuts from the Adelaide Fringe, and a packet of Oreos. Basically all the snack food I had on me, went in the bag. Always good to have a bit of variety!

In the drinks bag I had 6 bottles of Gatorade (one bought and the rest mixed from powder), an energy drink, 2 bottles of water and 3 mini bottles of cold brew coffee. Handy hint for next time – store bought Gatorade is WAY too concentrated for my taste! I had to water it down several times before it was palatable!

The way the lanes were organised, the 12 hour runners would share lanes 1 and 2 with the 48 hour folk, and the 6 hours would be in lane 3 and 4 with the 24 hour runners. I noticed a couple of people in lane 5 and wondered why on earth they would be in lane 5 – the lower numbered lanes were the shortest distance around so why would you want to go further than you’re getting credit for? I later found out that they had entered as walkers, so had their own dedicated lane.

We started at midday. A direction change was due, but rather than cause utter confusion but changing direction as we started, the first turnaround was after about 15 minutes. I like the turnarounds! In this event they’re every 4 hours (my experience has only been 3 hourly turnarounds) and everyone high fives each other. The camaraderie, particularly among the 48 hour runners was evident very early on. After all, they’d already been out there for 24 hours before we even started!

It was probably about half an hour in that I worked out which of the podium places I was more than likely to occupy. You got it, 3rd. So pretty much, regardless of whether I ran 100+km, or stopped now, I would finish 3rd.

(Don’t get me wrong, there is always the possibility of one of the other two pulling out. It happened in January – I was convinced that Kerrie was going to beat me, and she was WELL ahead, until she wasn’t there anymore!)

However, if things went the way I expected them to, I would be finishing 3rd. And I’m NOT complaining by the way, I am more than happy to take home a trophy, but I kind of feel like I need to earn it.

It was pretty warm out there for the first 3 hours or so.

A few of the familiar 48 hour runners were Cheryl and Annabel who are both regular visitors to Adelaide and who I’d competed with just 7 weeks ago in the 100km SA Track Championships. They were always ready with a bit of encouragement as I passed!

I did listen to my iPod for a bit early on as I got into my rhythm. It was easy enough to hear the noise around too, and to pause the iPod if wanting to chat with someone.

I found that the 12 hour runners in general were a bit less chatty than the 48. To be fair, they were mostly running, whereas the 48 hour runners were also walking a fair bit. There were a couple of guys in the 12 hour who seemed to be having a lot of fun – they had the tunes going pretty early on!

I didn’t keep a tally of my distances each hour, but I recall after an hour I was on about 9k. Unlike in previous races, I was keeping an eye on the computer monitor at the timing mat. After all, there would be no surprises re position, and we all know Garmin is a massive liar when it comes to track distances! (I was already about 2km out on my watch by the halfway mark!)

I recall a few other milestones. I distinctly remember crossing the line just behind Brendan Davies at the 4 hour mark. He was already a half marathon ahead of me at that point. But to be fair, I WAS going for twice as long so I had to conserve! (He ended up doing just over 81km!)

And I remember ticking off a marathon at around 4:40.

I’m not sure exactly when it happened but I was just behind Cheryl when she reached 200km! I’d never been running with anyone when they’d reached a milestone like that before and it was a privilege to see it!

I wasn’t really going for a particular pace or any milestones but I DID need to be well past 50km by halfway to be any chance of cracking the hundy. Past experience indicates that I do NOT negative split a12 hour race!

At 6 hours I was somewhere between 52 and 53km. 100 was still possible but it would be a near thing. And I decided that IF I got to 100 I’d keep going for the 12 hours but I’d just walk the rest. It was definitely not going to be a PB day!

Between 6 and 7 hours I noticed I was slowing down even when running (I don’t know what my lap times were but they were definitely closer to 3 than 2 minutes). I kept pushing on with the 25/5 run/walk but it was getting harder! At 7 hours I decided to give it another hour but I’d pretty much made up my mind – from 8 hours on I’d just walk.

At 8 hours I was just under 70km. 30km in 4 hours on paper sounds doable but I decided it wasn’t for me that night. I put my trackpants and hoodie on, got my iPod out, and started walking! (And there was some singing – a couple I can remember belting out were ‘Monkey Wrench’ and ‘Rock And Roll All Nite’ and later, ‘Break My Stride’ which was lyrically VERY apt!)

Not sure my fellow athletes enjoyed the music QUITE as much as I did…

The people in the tents either side of me were great, even though we didn’t formally meet and I’m not even sure who they were supporting, They said to let them know if I needed anything – that’s just the kind of thing you see at these events!

Walking was good! I could keep up a good pace, drink and eat plenty, sing, chat, and generally enjoy myself a lot more than I had in the preceding hour or so! (I also took the opportunity to loosen my ankle timing chip which, as it turned out, was a bit tight…)

A lovely touch was when a couple of pipers came and entertained us for a little while!

9.5 hours had gone by, just 2.5 hours to go. My revised goal was to get over 90km. I figured that was worthy of a trophy! Regardless, I would keep going until the very end – prefect training for the 24 hour!

I did some calculations. At 9.5 hours I was on 78km, so 12km to go, which equated to 30 laps. 30 laps in 150 minutes – even I could work that out! I needed to be lapping every 5 minutes. For some reason I thought I’d better pick up the pace.

My next lap was about 3:30. It was brisk but comfortable. Yeah, I could definitely do this!

And the last 4 hours were thoroughly enjoyable. No pressure, just enjoying the atmosphere and the experience! I definitely noticed the camaraderie more once I drew a line in the sand and decided I was done running!

At 80km, with my 90km goal comfortably in sight I treated myself to a sock change. My feet were a mess (my shoes, it turns out, needed to be half a size bigger) but the new socks were a joy!

The feets! (Taken back at home!)

With about an hour to go my sister Emma and her partner Dan (with whom I was staying) came to cheer me on for the last hour and bring me Coke! (On the drink table we had Tailwind, iced water which I drank a LOT of, and Pepsi, so I was really hanging for a Real Coke!)

Around this time Mick, eventual winner of the 48 hour, ticked over 300km – still with 11 hours to go!

With a lap or two to go, I was handed my wooden block which I would put on the ground where I was when 12 hours was up. I managed to get to 94km and then one more full lap, my final distance being 94.497km.

So if you’d told me before the start that I’d finish on 94.497 I would have been pretty disappointed but in reality I was anything but. Firstly, I’ve never had to walk big chunks of an event like that before but guess what? I’m pretty sure I will be doing that in the 24 hour! And as a training run for something bigger, it was actually pretty perfect! Secondly, it was actually so much more enjoyable than it otherwise would have been! Thirdly, I was so pleased with how I managed to keep myself going and motivated when I didn’t really have anyone to push me!

Although my numbers were nothing compared to the other podium finishers it was great to be listed among some pretty big names and to get to chat to them after all the seriousness was over! Interestingly, while I was pretty sure I was sitting in 9th place overall (out of 19) at 8 hours, I ended up 8th! So even though I was ‘last’ female, I think I did truly earn my trophy!

Thanks to the other runners for the encouragement out there on the track! Thanks to Emma and Dan, Cathie and my ‘tent mates’ for your support too! Also thanks to all the volunteers and Race Director Billy (I later found out this was his last CBR.48 as Race Director, with changes afoot next year)

Highly recommend this event! Would consider doing it again but I really think maybe I might go back to 6 hours next year (where it all began for me about 4 years ago!)