It was my first Barossa Marathon in 2015 that inspired me to start writing race reports and subsequently start writing this blog! I then ran the half in 2016 and again in 2017 as a pacer. In 2018 I ran the marathon again for a Chicago qualifier (spoiler alert, I got my qualifying time but I still haven’t quite made it there yet – 2023 is the year!). The last time I ran Barossa was in 2019 but for some reason I never got around to writing a report for that one! 2020 was cancelled due to the ‘Rona and I presume I didn’t run in 2021 because I was focusing on the Adelaide 6 hour race.
I’m not quite sure what inspired me to run Barossa this year – perhaps I got a bit excited after a really pleasing run at Clare?
Since Clare I have been focusing primarily on long runs, building up to Pichi Richi which is now only 4 weeks away (when did that happen? I knew I was doing it 12 months ago and yet here I am, having done nowhere near the training I had intended to!) COVID got in the way a bit, actually only a week after Clare (so you could say it was good timing, although it did totally ruin my Easter weekend!) Although I had a VERY mild case with (as far as I can tell) minimal long-term effects, a week of no running followed by gradually upping the distance again, meant that I was about 5 weeks behind where I wanted to be.
I entered Barossa after having had COVID, knowing it probably wasn’t going to be a PB (or even close to it!) but thinking it would be good to have a solid hit-out 4 weeks before Pichi Richi. Plus, I was due to do around 30km that weekend so it would be a good excuse not to do that. Plus, Barossa, wine!
The lead-up included a 28km run the previous Sunday (my longest run since Heysen in October) which was a hard slog – I’ll be glad when the long runs are over! I did my usual Tuesday and Thursday runs, with a slightly shorter Wednesday run thrown in, and no runs on Friday or Saturday. I had had a good run at Clare on the back of a solid parkrun effort the previous day, but I’m still not 100% convinced I couldn’t have run a better time at Clare had I not done parkrun. So this time around I decided to give parkrun a miss and see how that went!
Those who have read previous reports of mine may be aware that my pre-marathon meal of choice is pizza and cider (I’m already trying to figure out where I’m going to find a vegan pizza in Quorn!). Well this was not a marathon but it was a half marathon so I figured half a pizza was appropriate! And it’s coming into winter and I have no cider so red wine would have to do!
Something I used to spend a lot more time thinking about than I do now, was what I was going to wear on race day. On Saturday evening I was thinking about what I might wear – I knew which shoes and socks I was wearing and which hat but in between I had no idea. I had thought I might wear what I wore for Clare because that went so well for me, but I didn’t plan that well as I had worn the top to the gym the previous day so it was in the wash! Ultimately I have come to the conclusion that it really doesn’t matter as long as it’s comfortable, although fluoro pink does make it easier to pick myself out in photos!
When I went to Clare I forgot to take my drink bottle and Gatorade that I would normally carry. It had been a long time since I’d done a race where I didn’t carry my own drinks. As it turned out, drinking from the cups at the drink stations was really not a big deal, so I decided I’d do the same again at Barossa.
Sunday morning was cold – luckily I thought of arm warmers as they were definitely needed! (I’d also forgotten to take them to Clare but it hadn’t been an issue that day!). I left home around 6am, planning to get there around 7, in time to see the marathon start at 7:30 and give me more chance to find a park. The soundtrack for my drive was the brand new Def Leppard album – perfectly timed, finishing just as I pulled into my parking spot! Even at 7am, apparently the car park was already full and I ended up parking what seemed like a mile down the road! I got out of the car with my gear and started walking towards the race village, and definitely was tempted to turn around and go straight back home – it’s been a pretty mild autumn and we haven’t really had too many cold mornings yet, and of course it’s generally colder up in the Barossa than in Adelaide! Anyway, needless to say I did not go back to my car – I was there, I was committed!
I did say to someone, we should have left Barossa in August and Adelaide Marathon in May like it was for a few years (including the last 2 times I’d run here) – it’s much warmer in August and it’s not unpleasant in Adelaide in May!
The setup of the race village was great. This was the first time it had been held at the Rex, and it was excellent – the bib collection and bag drop was in the gym, undercover, which would have been much nicer for the volunteers than outside in the elements! Also good in case of rain – the last thing you want after a run is to find all your warm gear you were going to put on, is wet! There were also proper toilets (and showers for after) and plenty of indoor space for warming up for those who wanted it!
The half marathon started at 8:00, and I made my way to a spot near the 1:45 pacer who I was planning to try to stick with. I didn’t really have a specific time goal – theoretically I should be able to run Barossa faster than Clare but I was definitely better prepared for Clare so I wasn’t banking on it! Sub-1:45 had a nice ring to it though and would be a nice confidence booster leading up to Pichi Richi!
In the end I passed the pacer after a few minutes – I saw another pacer with a balloon just up ahead so I decided to try to keep him in sight (I later found out he was the 1:40 pacer).
I won’t go into details on the course because I’ve described it a number of times before but one thing that I did notice was the beautiful autumn leaves on the trees and the vines – and all of a sudden I was glad we were running in May and not August! (I also noticed a few wind turbines among the vines – not sure how long they’ve been there!) There are a lot of turns in the course but the good thing about that is that you get to see a lot of the other runners (all the half marathoners and a good bunch of the marathoners) and in pre-COVID times there would have been a lot of high fiving!
A chilly start turned into absolutely perfect running conditions – cool, sunny in patches, and most importantly, no wind or rain!
It was great to see so many familiar faces out there – for me it was probably more on the volunteer side than running!
One of the marshals, Michael, I first saw at 5km, at which point he said ‘not far to go’ – I jokingly said “only 3 and a bit parkruns” . When I saw him again at 14km, I very happily said to him “only a parkrun and a bit to go!” It’s funny how everything is measured in terms of parkruns now!
There were plenty of opportunities for drink stops – being quite a mild morning I only needed to stop twice for water, and by stop I mean run straight through and grab a cup, pour half of it on me and maybe get a quarter of it in my mouth, at the 9km and 14km marks.
With my arm warmers on, I intentionally kept my watch covered, and that helped me concentrate on my running and not time or distance. I found that really worked for me on this occasion. I knew I was well ahead of the 1:45 pacer (with the multiple out and backs, I saw him quite a few times) and I estimated I was probably closer to the 1:40 pacer in front of me than the 1:45 pacer behind.
Probably when I reached the last 5km, I needed some distraction so I decided to try to cheer on all of the marathon runners (most of whom I saw were early in their second lap) – not sure if it helped them any but it certainly gave me a bit of a boost thinking about what a good decision I’d made not to run the marathon!
I seemed to be getting overtaken a lot towards the finish – I don’t know if I’d slowed down or if they’d just conserved better than me and had a bit left in the tank. In any case, I was particularly happy when I saw the finish line and I decided I was going to try to overtake a couple of people right before the finish line – although I thought I had nothing left, somehow I managed to find an extra pair of legs right at the end! The time on my watch was 1:40:32, my official net time was 1:40:29. Not only was that a PB for this event, it was also my second fastest ever out of 28 half marathons. I have no idea where that came from – possibly pulled out of my arse – the ideal weather conditions certainly helped, but I’ll take it! (And just quietly – maybe missing parkrun yesterday was a good move!)
After the event a few of us went to Chateau Tanunda (sponsor of the event) for a wine tasting – we must have made quite a sight in our sweaty running gear!
After that I went to stock up on the essentials before heading home!
As is traditional among my running group, a marathon is followed by celebratory drinks in the afternoon – a few of us gathered at the pub to finish the weekend in the best possible way!
Congratulations to the organisers for putting on a fantastic event, thank you to all the wonderful volunteers for making it all possible, and well done to all the runners out there today – such a great day!