I had been super excited for this event as it was officially my longest trail race to date and a taste of a longer event. In the weeks leading up to the race I had been spending quite a bit of time on course just to be prepared plus it's simply spectacular coastline. Speaking of being on course, we've had so much rain the last few weeks and the course has been a complete mess. Thankfully, leading up to race day we finally had some dry, windy days that I hoped would dry things off enough that it wasn't super messy.
I arrived at the race start about 40mins early which gave me some time to catch up with mates and have a good chat before the start. Man it was windy and bloody cold! I was cursing the 9am start but now the sun was up things were warming up a little, which made things slightly more manageable. With a few minutes to go it was time to get to the start.
Off and racing we left the waterfront of Raffertys and wound up through the bush and along some streets before reaching the water tower at Murrays Beach. Crossing the highway overpass we were finally getting into the real trails and I was getting bloody excited. It was about 5km in and I had to keep holding myself back. The surface was tacky with only a bit of water lying around, which was awesome.
Around the 10km mark I hit Catho Beach and thankfully the tide was out but heading in so there was still plenty of hard sand to get some grip on. At the other end of Catho I wound back up through the bush again and hugged the coast. The view along here is so epic it's not funny.
Now at 14km the legs were still feeling great so it was time to pick up the pace a little. I was now winding along Moonee Beach trail and around through Fraser Beach camp ground. While still feeling great the road hill back up out of Fraser Beach really knocked the stuffing out of me. Reaching the top I knew I had a slow decline back to Catho so I made the most of it and got my breath back.
Winding back to Catho I was getting a lot of cheers and encouragement from runners heading the other direction. It was weird, I'm definitely not an elite runner but it certainly made me feel good. I guess starting near the front of a staggered start made me look like a far better runner than I am! I was now around the 23km mark.
Now back on Catho Beach the tide was up further but still just enough hard sand left to get some grip on, which was good. Reaching the other end of Catho Beach I clicked off 27km. From here it was 9km of mostly hills so time to buckle up.
Winding up the hills towards the old war bunkers my legs really started burning. This was about 30km in. I knew there was one good climb left before the last few kilometres of easy downhill. I saw Kat on the way past and gave her a wave. She was looking in good form for the 22km event.
The final climb started at the 32km mark and finished about the 33km mark. This is the only section of the course I "hiked with purpose". I ran it a few times in training but I was just way too cooked. Seems we were all in the same boat so I wasn't feeling too bad about that. At the top of the hill I finally ran down a girl who'd I'd been reeling in for the last 10km. On the way past she looked at me and picked up the pace again. I told her she better not let me pass again, to which she just smiled and kept pushing.
With only 3km to go my quads started to get a little crampy. I checked my time to see how it was going with my goal of sub 3:30:00 and I needed to keep a 6 minute pace to be safe. I thought, I got this, just keep moving and your quads will be fine!
With only 500 metres to go I mustered up all the pace I had left and crossed the line with about a minute to spare. I was so stoked. I felt I ran the best race I could and achieved my time. Now completely dead I hobbled over and had a good chat with a fellow Wooter while waiting for Melissa to finish. Such a great day. Now to get ready for GNW 50K!
Race day stats:
26 / 258 Overall
23 / 145 Male
11 / 50 Senior Grade (30-39)