Adelaide Trail Runners Summer Series #5 – Cleland (and a bit about #4 – Onkaparinga River)

Well – the Adelaide Trail Runners Summer Series is over for another season – today I’m going to cover the last 2 events of the series as I realise I never completed my report from Onkaparinga. I’ve tried to keep this one reasonably brief as there’s only the one photo!

Firstly to Onkaparinga which was event 4 in the 5 event Adelaide Trail Runners Summer Series, after South Para, Anstey Hill and Belair. I had only ever run here once before, in the corresponding event last year.

This time around I was treating the event more as a distraction than a focus. I hadn’t been doing a lot of trail running recently, and I had just started the long road to my next marathon, with this weekend due to be my second long run of the programme, 17km. If I’d been doing the medium course I might have considered that was close enough to 17km to call it my long run for the week, but just over 9km was not quite enough. I really felt like I needed to do a long run this week, and I didn’t think doing it on Saturday would bode too well for Sunday’s event, so for the first time ever I went out early on a weekday and did a bit extra before my regular Thursday morning run. What was meant to be 6km before an 11km run ended up being 7km (still working on my long run pacing – it was a little faster than planned, and to make it a continuous run rather than having a rest in between, I had to add an extra kilometre). I was really happy with how it went, I think I could still go a bit slower and I’m sure that will come as I up the distance! It’s been 5 years since I’ve trained specifically for a marathon so I’m a bit rusty!

It’s not something I would do every week, but it’s nice to know that Thursday long run day can work if needed!

Back to Onkaparinga. My legs didn’t feel too bad at the start of the run, they did start to feel a bit like lead when I hit the first uphill, but that’s normal for me and probably not related to my long run!

My main focus in this event was to finish, which would qualify me for an age group prize in the series (to qualify you need to have run at least 4 of the 5 races). I planned to run race 5 at Cleland but didn’t want to take any chances in case for some reason I couldn’t make it – I needed to get this one done and then I could relax and just enjoy Cleland!

I found the course quite challenging due to a lot of single track and lots of runners behind. I didn’t want to stop running because that would have meant that I had to stand aside and let all the runners past. What that meant was that I ran hills that I should have walked, leaving me a bit spent for the downhill bits where I might have been able to make up some time. If it was just one runner behind it would have been one thing to let them past, but with a long queue of runners that may have cost me a fair bit of time. Who knows whether it would have cost me in the long run – maybe a short rest might have given me some more energy for the downs!

I spent quite a lot of time following a guy who I hadn’t met before and I never found out his name, but he set pretty good pace – I had intended to try to find him at the finish and thank him for his awesome pacing but coffee and Coke won out in the end!

Probably the most memorable part of this event was when my bladder fell out – that had never happened to me before! And of course I am referring to my water bladder falling out of my race vest because I had forgotten to zip it up –  the other kind of bladder falling out would have been a bit more disastrous! So picture me untangling my hose, unclipping my vest, taking it off, pushing the bladder back in, zipping up the pack, putting the vest back on and doing it up, and putting the hose out of the way, all while running – amazingly I managed to keep on my feet – fortunately this was not on single track!

Leading up to the 7.5km mark there was lots of uphill rocky single track running (again, not wanting to slow to a walk which probably did not work in my favour) – by the time I got to the top of the hill and could have done a bit of running, my legs were shot and I ended up having to run/walk for almost 1km!

On this occasion I ran in a fluoro orange top and black shorts – coincidentally the exact same outfit as Lisa who finished 2nd in the medium course! After the event I commented to her that we were twins (except that I’m a bit taller and she is WAY faster!) and she said she went with the bright top so she could be found easily if she got lost – funnily enough I have often joked about wearing bright colours for the same reason!

So I got it done, albeit a bit slower than last year but I got it done!

 So I was pleased to have completed the qualification requirements for the series by completing 4 events, which took the pressure off – in the current climate things can change at any moment, and I was TOTALLY expecting to end up in isolation this week!

 I had not done any hills since Onkaparinga and Cleland is probably the hardest of all the series so I was very well unprepared. Also I’d been out at a Fringe show the night before which involved consuming a little more wine than would be desirable in preparation for an event such as this. Not making excuses, just stating facts!

 The choice for me was either run Cleland (around 8km) or do a long run as part of my marathon training (at least 22km), I opted for the former. At this point I believe that was the right choice! I’m finding the long runs a real hard slog on my own – I need to get back into a group again for the long runs! (I could have done my long run on Saturday and still done Cleland but Cleland was going to be hard enough as it was without adding an extra 22km into my legs beforehand!)

 I definitely said to more than one person, “I don’t know why I’m here!” Probably not a great way to get into ‘race’ mindset!

 The course was exactly the same as last year so there’s not too much to tell – other than that I was a good few minutes slower this time around (surprise, surprise!). And I’m pretty sure I didn’t walk as much last year as I did this year  – I walked almost all the uphills, couldn’t even be bothered with the walk/run strategy that I’d relatively successfully used in the past!

 For most of Cleland I was following a guy called Scott, I recognised his back from Onkaparinga, where I had also been following him for a good bit of the run until he took off towards the end. I used him as an excuse to walk – every time I’d see him walking, I’d also start walking! Having a ‘pacer’ (although he didn’t know it until afterwards!) was really helpful, although at times he did go a bit faster than I would have liked!

 To summarise the course, it starts with a little bit of down, then a lot of uphill followed by a few very fun downhill kilometres with switchbacks, with a nasty little uphill to finish. Towards the end of the first uphill we hit the RMA drink station. Normally I like to run into and out of a drink station (as per usual I was carrying everything I needed but it was always nice to see the ladies!) but this time I was just plodding up the hill and I distinctly remember saying to Michelle “I don’t want to do this anymore!” – but not long after that, the downhill fun began!

 On the downhill, towards the end, just as we were being overtaken by a long course runner, Scott went left where the sign pointed right – the long course runner and I both called out to him – it would have added extra distance to his run, plus then I would have lost my pacer!

 I managed to keep him in sight all the way to the end. The last part of the run was through the carpark which wasn’t the most scenic but nice and easy. Before hitting the final uphill, we had to get out of the carpark and back onto the trail. There were 2 options, a small ‘hurdle’ (presumably to stop bikes riding through?) and a narrow gate off to the side. Scott went towards the gate so I decided to do something I never do (and for good reason), I decided to jump the hurdle. Normally I would CAREFULLY step over, there was no way I wanted to trip and faceplant so close to the end! But nope – on this occasion I decided jumping over was the right thing to do. And I made it! Such a good feeling! Scott ended up still entering the last climb in front, and finishing 4 seconds ahead of me. After a much-needed post-run coffee I went to chat with him and his son, as well as Ollie who had managed to complete the course also (unlike me, he needed to finish this event to be eligible for the series), and we chatted about City to Bay which is about as far removed from this event as you can get! (Side note, I’m still waiting for my redemption from 2019 so it’s safe to say I will definitely be running it this year!)

 It was a warm morning – it wasn’t too bad while I was running but hanging around afterwards I could definitely feel it start to warm up – would have been quite hot for some of the longer distance runners! It was great to catch up with people I hadn’t seen in a while – one of the best things about these events!

 So – I was glad to have got it done and I did enjoy the downhill bits but all in all, for me it was a bit of a slog. The lack of hill training was definitely evident! I think if I were to do the series again next summer I would need to train a bit more on hills! Can definitely do better!

 Overall I would definitely recommend the series, the courses are all really good and well supported with drink stations and post-run snacks and coffee! I think this year my favourite was South Para, probably because it was the flattest of all the courses, also new to me and I was probably a little more accustomed to hills at that stage! Thanks to all those involved in making it happen and maybe I might be back next time around!