March being a slightly ridiculous month, I thought what better way to end it than with a nice little 5k at Victor Harbor?
My previous ‘Mad March’ events were the Victor Harbor triathlon and then, a week later, the Canberra 12 hour.
2 weeks later, and 1 week out from my first trail ultra in 12 months, it seemed like the thing to do!
I ran The Granite Island Run for the first time last year and you can read all about it here.
The course was the same this year so I’ll keep this one brief!
Essentially we start on the mainland, run across the causeway to the island, run a lap around the island, and back to the mainland. If you’re really keen you can do it twice. I figured, after I’ve seen it once, why go back and do it again?It seemed like there were a lot more people there this year, and that’s because the numbers were significantly higher!
In 2018 I was one of 50 in the short course (with 34 being female) and this year there were 54 females out of a total of 80. In the long course, last year there were 95 with 49 females, and this year there were 130 with an exact 50:50 split.
The word must be getting out!
I like small events because there aren’t issues with congestion like in the bigger events. With this event in particular, given the nature of the course, you definitely wouldn’t want a huge crowd, for safety reasons!
(Of course, having said that, I do also occasionally like a big event – I’m particularly looking forward to the atmosphere of the New York marathon this year!)
On arrival at about 7:30am it was quite chilly but luckily as a frequent visitor to these parts I was prepared with my Mekong hoodie! I collected my race number so I was pretty much all ready to run except I wasn’t quite ready to part with my hoodie! As per usual I had some striped arm warmers to take the chill off while awaiting the start.
The short course was scheduled to start at 8:10am, 10 minutes after the long course, however both the short and long course starts were delayed due to there being a vehicle on the island! So we had to wait for the vehicle to get off the island before we could start. This is one of the unique challenges of this particular event!
It wouldn’t be a race report without a selfie with Gary, so here it is.
This was taken just before the start of the long course, which of course Gary was running (and as per usual he had a little lighthearted ‘dig’ at me for ‘only’ doing the short course!)
At the start I positioned myself near the front but probably in around the second row. I knew that a lot of the runners would be faster than me, so there wasn’t any point me leading, plus I always prefer to have someone in front of me, at least at the start! At that point I could see 2 female runners in front of me, both dressed in brightly coloured tops which were easy to spot!
We started running away from the island along the grass, then did a U turn, onto the sealed path and onto the causeway. By the time we hit the sealed path I had moved into 2nd place and as we entered the causeway I passed the first place female runner. Leading at this early stage was a very unfamiliar place for me to be, I usually prefer to have someone in front of me until closer to the end, and then try to finish with a burst (ideally not passing them RIGHT on the finish line, preferably a bit before there!) It rarely works, by the way!
The causeway is made of wood, with a tramway on one side (for the horse drawn tram which fortunately is currently not operating – I have issues with such things!). The tramway side has a rubber mat on it which, due to recent rain, had the potential to be a bit slippy. So I tried to run on the ‘walking’ side as much as possible!
Once on the island we had to run to the end of the jetty, which, like last year, was helpfully marked at the end with an ‘X’ to signify “Don’t go this way”! This was the first ‘out and back’ section of the course, where I got a bit of an idea of where I was in the field. I noticed another female runner, who I hadn’t seen at the start, possibly because she was wearing all black, who was closing in on the 3rd place runner. It felt like I had a bit of a lead but it was still a bit too close for comfort! It was really hard to gauge because I didn’t know any of the runners so I had no idea whether they were fast finishers, good hill climbers etc!
Then the fun began – a nice little stair climb. I should have counted the steps. This year, remembering what it was like last year, I opted to walk the stairs rather than try to run them. I don’t think I was any slower!
There was one drink station, at the top of another climb, which we went past twice. The lovely Kate was manning this aid station as well as providing very enthusiastic encouragement which was much appreciated! As the event has now gone ‘cupless’ (a change I applaud!) and I had opted not to carry any receptacles (I probably would have, had I been doing the long course), I didn’t stop for a drink. (Although, Kate told me later that some runners had drunk straight from the cask, as has happened in the past when I have been volunteering on a cupless drink station!)
The terrain was varied – some wide non-technical track which was mostly either uphill or downhill, and some nice little rocky sections that required you to be paying close attention!
I believe the scenery was pretty nice but I was too busy making sure I didn’t fall over!
Towards the end of the island bit I was happily following a guy with (I think it was) ‘HOUSE CAPTAIN’ on the back of his top. As I mentioned before, I prefer not to lead, especially on a course I don’t know well! However just as I had settled into a nice rhythm, he started walking – I think it was cramp or something (he ended up finishing not far behind me so it couldn’t have been anything too serious!) so I then had to find my own way! Fortunately the course was very well marked, even the navigationally
challenged such as myself would have had difficulty getting lost. There were marshals at strategic points where there was any chance of runners going the wrong way.
Eventually I made it around the island and back to the causeway. This was the first point at which I allowed myself to have a look behind me (partly because I was so close to the end, and partly because I was now on less hazardous terrain!) – I could see some men not too far behind me but no women (other than the ones I’d just passed, who were doing the long course and were about to start their second lap!)
The whole way along the causeway I kept looking back. If someone looked like catching me, I would have to put on a sprint. After leading for almost the entire race, I did not want to get pipped at the post!
As I approached the finish line I could hear MC Shane on the mic announcing my name, and telling me that someone was about to catch me so I’d better sprint! I knew it couldn’t be another woman, but had one last sneak peek just to be sure. I then put on a bit of a burst and JUST managed to get across the line first! (Later I found out that according to the official electronic timing, I had beaten Cameron by 0.07 of a second!)
My official time was 27:10.603, less than 7 seconds slower than last year. I was really happy with that especially coming off the Canberra 12 hour 2 weeks ago. After doing a lot of long slow stuff recently it’s quite refreshing and encouraging to be able to go out and run somewhat faster!
After getting my breath back after a somewhat unnecessary finish line sprint, a coffee and vegan carrot cake slice from the Causeway Café (YUM!!!!) it was time to watch the other runners come through, and do a bit of shopping at the Mekong pop up store. I could have bought a lot of stuff and there were some great bargains to be had, but I was very restrained and just bought myself a beanie!
Presentations followed immediately after the last runners came through, followed by the main event – the random prize draw!
Last year I’d won a Mekong T-shirt but this year I wasn’t so lucky! There seemed to be a LOT of prizes and a lot of names called out (you had to be there to win it, and many people had clearly already left) but sadly my name was never called. I was standing next to another one of the fabulous volunteers, Sam, who is a Victor local, and as RD Simon was calling out the prizes and the names, I said to Sam that if I won any of the ones that were for businesses in Victor, she could have it! (By the way, I think the volunteers need to be included in the random prize draw too!)
Once again I really enjoyed this event, it was very well organised, friendly and unique! Highly recommend it to anyone who wants to try something different, challenging and fun!
Thanks to Simon and all the wonderful volunteers for making this event happen, see you back again next year!