Race Report – 2019 SARRC Clare Valley Half Marathon Festival

The Clare Half has become something of a fixture in my running calendar. In 2014 it was my very first half marathon. In 2015 I had one of the few races where I’ve considered DNFing before getting ‘redemption’ in 2016.

In 2017 I changed it up a bit, doing the 5k as I was only a few weeks out from running the Boston Marathon and it was a bit late in the piece to be running a hard half. It was also the first time I’d driven up on race day, usually preferring to spend the night up there before the race (Clare being close to a 2 hour drive from home).

2018 was different again, opting to be a pacer for the half and probably having the most enjoyable of all my halves here!

Clare 2019 wasn’t even really on my radar. After having been there 5 years straight, I figured I had done everything I needed to there, and instead I’d do a long run to train for the upcoming 24 hour race.

But then, a couple of weeks ago I went to a presentation for the Ultra Runners SA Summer Trail Series at which I received my trophy from January’s 100k Track Championships. Ben, the head honcho of URSA and also the Race Director for SARRC, said he’d have my trophy for last year’s Track Champs within a few days, and he’d bring it to Clare. Thing was, I wasn’t going to Clare. Now I know that I would have got my trophy another time if I hadn’t gone to Clare, but over the next few days I thought about it and thought ‘bugger it, I’m going to Clare!’

I entered the 5k (the other options being the 10 and the Half). I’d run the Half 4 times, I hadn’t been doing any Half training, so there wasn’t much incentive for me to do the Half! Especially now that we get medals for all distances! No, 5k was my best option! (Plus, next weekend I’m running the Great Southern Half for the first time, and I didn’t fancy the thought of 2 halves a week apart!

I went up to Clare on Sunday with 2 running buddies who were both doing the Half. Consequently I was there WAY early (the 5k started 45 minutes after the half) which was good – it gave me plenty of time to get psyched and slowly peel off the layers (it was slightly chilly when we arrived – it always seems to be a few degrees cooler in Clare!)

Even though I wasn’t going to be out there very long, I put sunscreen on – one of the 10k runners, Kerry, commented that I was being a bit optimistic (to be fair, I was still wearing a beanie and a hoodie at the time) but later in the morning my decision would pay off!

The numbers were impressive! 382 finishers in the 21.1k, 168 in the 10k and 119 in the 5k.

The half marathon start!

The half marathon and 10k headed south along the Riesling Trail (the Half turning around at Penwortham) and the 5k went north. Consequently, we would not encounter any of the HM or 10k runners until we approached the finish. I was hoping to be done before the first half marathoner but you never know how fast they are going to be!

We all started on the oval like last year, which meant a slight uphill run from the oval to get to the Riesling Trail!

Lining up at the start line for the 5k I positioned myself just behind the front row, which was mostly kids. I was aiming to get under 23 minutes, something I hadn’t done in 4 months, and where better to do it than in an actual race?

Away we went, and I was in 4th place out of the females as we approached the carpark. By the time we hit the Riesling Trail I had managed to get myself in front.

The race itself was pretty uneventful – I do think I probably went out a bit too hard in the first kilometre (which I ALWAYS do!) and consequently my second kilometre was my slowest!

Early on I was passed by a couple of boys who I think were brothers, and they were sitting just in front of me for most of the rest of the race. I was also passed by Alex who always seems to be just in front of me in races, and who I later found out is in the 70-74 age group! I had thoughts of trying to catch him or at least keep him in sight, but catching him proved an impossibility!

On the way back, the two brothers must have tripped each other up and both fell, but quickly bounced back up and kept going! I asked them if they did parkrun – they said they did, so I concluded that these were the types of kids who knew how to run a 5k (unlike a lot of kids I see at parkrun who go like the clappers for about 500m and then fall in a heap!)

I did pass them with 1km or so to go but they would get me in the end!

The last kilometre was hard! Again, probably because I went out too hard. It was downhill so it should theoretically have been easier – but when is the last km ever easy?

Coming off the Riesling Trail, I was passed by an Adelaide Harrier coming from the other direction. I wondered if it was a half marathoner but it turned out the half marathoners were a few minutes away, he was in the 10k. (I later realised that if it was a half marathoner, his time would have been 1hr 8 minutes which would have been somewhat implausible!)

Coming round the back of the oval, for the 6th time in as many years, I knew the finish line was close. I was pretty sure none of the other females were going to catch me but I did keep looking over my shoulder. The brothers were there – I could hear them picking up the pace and I knew that they were going to catch me, and also that I wouldn’t be able to chase them down! They passed me just before we ran into the finish chute. I did take the foot off the gas slightly when I realised there was no-one close behind me.

Soooo glad to be finished!

When I stopped my watch my time was just over 23 minutes (23:04) but looking at the official time later, I JUST scraped in!

Can’t get much closer than that!

Chatting to the first aid staff who were checking in on everyone as they crossed the line. I remarked that a 5k is every bit as hard as a 21.1k! (It’s just a little bit shorter!)

BLING!

I then had the privilege of seeing the half marathoners and many of the 5k and 10k finishers come in. Both David and Gary did better than expected which was good because I had to ride home with both of them!

Trophy presentation!
A really cool trophy! (better pic below!)
Thanks to official photographer Tracie for this pic – check out https://geosnapshot.com/e/sarrc-2019-clare-valley for more event pics!

After the presentation we headed to the Little Red Grape bakery in Sevenhill on the recommendation of Gary. It seemed to be a popular choice among runners! We then hit up a couple of cellar doors, Skillogalee and Kilikanoon and did not walk away empty handed!

Kitty approves of my choices! And there’s that trophy again!

THANK YOU TIME!

Thanks firstly for David for driving and allowing Gary and me to give the Clare wine region the appropriate attention! And then, of course thanks to all the volunteers. This event takes a lot of work to put on, the fact it is so far from Adelaide poses a challenge but many of the volunteers (and indeed the runners) come up from Adelaide for the weekend, and the local community has always been very supportive too!

And I reckon I will be back again next year for the 7th year running (pun intended) – might try something different next year!

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