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Jabulani Challenge 22km

Date:
By JP
Category: Trail Events

My first official trail race!  Since committing fully to trails after Melbourne Marathon last year I had eagerly looked forward to my first event.  I did enter the lottery for Six Foot Track but with my typical, non-existent luck I failed to win a spot although around 70% of entrants do get in.  This actually worked out for the best as I don't think my bare feet could have made the distance or the terrain.  All good now, I'm back in shoes and building up a strong pace and distance again, which I'm feeling really good about.

I saw a couple dozen Wooters had entered various distances at Jabulani so I knew I wouldn't be at the event alone, not that being alone bothers me, it was just nice to know I would have no trouble making friends when there's other members of parliament flapping around.

Arriving at the event I battled with the parking payment thing, thankfully I got a ticket after a little bit of a struggle.  Next up I finished my race prep and went for a little warm up run around.  I then made my way across to the event start and scanned for fellow Wooters.  Quite disappointingly I didn't see any so I just kept walking around.  On the other side of the event start I happened to look across and finally saw another Wooter.  Thought I best go say hello.

The first 8km of the race was pretty tight, technical single trail with a lot of elevation gain and no room to pass.  I was loving every step, it was seriously so much fun to be negotiating all the varied terrain and take in the magic scenery.  At the top of the first major climb at the 5km mark my heart rate was pretty jacked but it settled really fast and I was able to pick up the pace.

The next 6km was fairly undulating hills with heavily aggregated concrete access roads.  This would have been near impossible in bare feet.  It was at this point I was very happy with my decision to wear shoes!  Thankfully I was still feeling pretty strong despite the hills so I kept up as steady a pace as I could.

With about 8km to go the descent started and slowly got steeper and steeper.  Like the start of the race this was quite technical single trail.  I was really pleased with how I descended although I was feeling completely shagged at the bottom of the hill at the 18km mark.  A guy by the name of Paul then passed me who was running the 12km and thanked me for the good descent pace.  I spoke to him later at the finish, seemed a really cool guy.

The final 4km wound along the water back towards the start.  I was completely on my own for these last few kilometres and I was seriously questioning if I missed a turn.  I saw some hikers coming along the opposite direction so I asked them if they saw lots of other runners heading this way and they just smiled and said, "yeah mate, you're not lost."  Clearly the look on my face gave away my lost feeling.

Now back in civilisation with only a few hundred metres to go I summoned up enough energy for a strong finish.  Crossing the line a photographer looked at me puzzled and said "you're actually smiling with joy not grimacing in pain, why?!"  I responded, "I love running, it makes me happy."

Race day stats:

Distance: 22 km
Time: 2:25:13
Avg Pace: 6:33 min/km
Elevation Gain: 291 m
Calories: 2,836 C