Here’s the route up the hill:
By the time we’d reached the top of the mountain the elevation was close to 1K, so it should be relatively easier running 21K down hill, right??
So we’re at the start in the middle of a hill and we head off UP the hill! 100m in and Bart’s gone and I look behind me and there’s no one there, I’m last. Well I guess some one has to be. I started to get the feeling that these were hard core “trailists” and I was hopelessly out of my depth. Thoughts of finishing last enter my head and I was comfortable with that, although just finishing was going to be a challenge.
After the initial hill we’re on a single track and for 2.5K it ranges from a mild to a steep decline. The latter was very hard on the knees to the point that I thought they couldn’t survive another 18K of this. Thank God it wasn’t raining or the only way down would have been on your backside.
The next 500m sees everyone walking – a steep incline of 30m over about 200m. By this stage I’m not last anymore and listening to the chatting I’m made aware that this is the first trail some of these have done. Welcome to trail running, not sure this was the best run to do for their first but hopefully it didn’t put them off.
First water station at about 5K and the taste was awful, I couldn’t drink it, it tasted like there was dirt in it. I’m now worried that I’ll run 21K without any hydration or I’ll have to drink it and it’ll upset my stomach – how the mind works when you’re fatigued!
We now get the three notable hills on this track. The first is a decline of 210m over 1.7K -on a flat road this would take me about 9 minutes, downhill here it took me 14 minutes.
Nothing prepared me for what I was about to face, the second was an incline of 300m over 6K -56 minutes, I swear (a lot) I was walking faster than I could run it. We approached an oasis at the 11k mark in the form of a water/food station, I grabbed a couple of quarters of orange, 2 lolly snakes and a cup of coke. Took a break of about 3 minutes and headed off again.
The last one was a 300m decline over 2K which took me 17 minutes, this was treacherous and I’d be surprised if no one came a cropper down here.
The last 5K were declines of far less elevation although they’d seem a lot worse if you weren’t comparing them with the previous monsters.
By 15K’s the slower runners (me included) had spread out to the point that I was running alone foe many K’s. Alone means I cannot see anyone behind me or in front. Quite an eerie feeling, one wrong move and I could have been on the news that night!
21.8K in 2 hours and 49 minutes tells the tale really. Nearly 3 minutes slower per K than my road runs.
Did I enjoy it? NO It was nearly 3 hours of strain, pain and concentration. I couldn’t get any rhythm going, couldn’t zone out, it was just an out and out slog. I’m glad I did it though and proud that I finished as this was the longest I have ever ran, both time and distance. Everyone said it was too hard, even some of the “hard core” runners.
And I didn’t finish last!
If you think we’re mad, today there’s a race on the same track today -on mountain bikes!
Bart on the other hand finished in a very good time of 2 hours 22 minutes.
It’s early the following day as I type and I can hardly walk, my calves are the tightest they’ve ever felt but surprisingly my knees are unaffected.