TRAQ Flinder’s Tour, Glasshouse Mountains 2014.

Another Sunday and another fun day out.

Off up Mt Beerburrum.

Off up Mt Beerburrum.

I was not going to do this race, I wanted to but had done the Gold Coast Marathon 3 weeks before the start and thought I was asking too much. Then a chance encounter with a fellow TRAQ tragic and well, I became enthused. I asked the support crew and yep, I was in! I entered via my iPhone at the local sushi restaurant, 4G is a marvellous thing.

So, a week out, I entered, 2 weeks post cold/flu Marathon failure and my Guru Mike had a back keeping him off the trails. Coach Hanny was away, in Bulgaria helping kids with bad hair and acne follow the map and run hard for Australia at the Junior World Orienteering Champs. I also had no Amaze Balls or Shots bars left, I thought I did but no. Hmmmm, no coach, no race food, no preparation and no idea re the course. Prequel for disaster??

Fortunately not. I managed to find out we climbed a mountain at the start, good to know, I scrounged some older gels together and looked at my shoe pile. This takes time, I have way too many. I decided to go minimal. Very minimal, Skora Cores, these have no midsole, are zero drop, have about 11mm of rubber/insole etc to protect you and a floppy upper made from well-bred goats. No lugs, No rock plate and no toe bumper. Should be fine. The Inov8 gimp vest was selected for its lack of space (other than for a  bladder, iPhone and some food), I even downloaded a playlist lasting 7 1/2 hours for the day. Joy Division, Morrissey and AC/DC. Sorted.

I knew Les and Gigi would not come up with me but we pretended they would until about 5am, once I was dressed and ready to go. I hoped they would come up later. A non-starting car in the garage might hinder them though?

Now the race, it was inspiring, the course, the atmosphere, the friendly fellow runners, all were terrific. We had to enjoy the day, a stark reminder, a sad reminder a terrible reminder of human frailty had all of us wiping tears from our eyes before the gun, as Ian gave an emotional speech commemorating the death of Roger Guard. His son, bravely added a few words and offered to run the first stage with us. Nobody was going to take this run for granted.

Poor balance.

Poor balance.

The run up Mt Beerburrum was truncated a bit and easier than I feared, we then went out over its Eastern shoulder in a loop of beautiful single track. It was dripping rain from the trees and the views were magnificent. An encounter with a slippy rock section made me cautious. I met a group of guys who kept me well entertained for another 10kms. Sil (from near Rockhampton) was with me too so, that made about 6 of us. It was great. Silvia grew up in Holland and it was a rough time for her with the MH17 disaster very raw and ugly.

Eventually, checkpoints, toilet stops and tiredness split us all up and it was over the gap between ‘The Twins’. A lucky deviation from the original plan, it was a great bit of track with some vertical, some technical and some almost me horizontal challenges. Then down to the Glasshouse staple forest trails. This time punctuated with muddy pools and tricky bridges. Soon enough 25km runners were coming the other way and we were treated to some humiliation as they sped towards us. For the first time ever Jodie Obourne was doing a shorter distance than me!

Plodding through the single track with Sil.

Plodding through the single track with Sil.

After the school and a weigh in, we did it all again. Sort of, just in different directions and with 30km in our legs. I had a goal, under 6 hours and ran to that. My last outing on these trails was a disaster and I wanted an attainable target. I managed this with a wee wobble towards the end. Maybe 4km of survival mode on the nice single track, that now felt steep and rough. The shoes were just fine, a few rocky spots gave me grief mind.

I crossed the line with 4 minutes to spare, feeling tired but good. Les and Gigi had made it to the finish and we enjoyed a burger before heading home.

This was a really nice day out, the run, the company, my family and the enjoyable course all came together. I found out you don’t need months of planning, just a desire to go and run. Some of us can’t because of injury, or worse, some of us have our lives taken away in an incomprehensible moment. If running slowly, long distances in beautiful bushland is your thing, well there is a lot to be thankful for that we can.

Thank you Ian and all the other TRAQ crew, the potatoes were excellent. I also think the ladies at the ‘Tuck-Shop’ were stars. Thank you Lesley and Gigi for coming to join me, I am truly blessed. Thank you to Bec Frendo for inspiring me to go and do what I enjoy so much! I can’t wait for my next chance to go run in the bush, slowly…..

The North Face 100- A Race Report. In verse.

Here is an easy challenge for you, do all this stuff in a day, no make it 19 odd hours…… do half in the dark and enjoy the view along the way.

 

Let’s start simple friend, this is a chomping feat, we can’t go far unless we remember just how much to eat!

Suck down some gels, 36 will do,  High5 Mojito, a brand that can’t be beat.

14 sticky Torq bars and a couple of Cliff ones too?

20 Amaze Balls from Tara’s Runner’s Kitchen,  throw down a dozen pieces of juicy watermelon.

A cup of coffee and a hot choc too, 40 Hammar salt pills as well for you.

Make sure you swallow some vomit on the way, consider dirty creek water when you your bladder’s dry as hay.

Yes, don’t forget the drink, ten litters plus of water, not cold or fizzy, that’s easy, this is slaughter.

Make is warm and salty too, suck it through a filthy straw attached to you.

 

Now that you’ve eaten, lets run a little way, let’s make it a hundred kilometres mate, Okay?

No, not flat or smooth but hilly, rocky and rough.

Let’s find some stairs, a million’s not enough.

Run up a cliff-side, hewn from rock, do it for an hour, then restart the clock.

Make it 10 or 12 hours on and off, time will stop ticktock.

The stairs should be loony, made by a drunken sadistic madman, uneven and unsure,

Take away some of the rails, add a compelling vista for distraction.

Now in between there is rocky single track and steep fire trail action.

Don’t forget the muddy creeks, slimy forest stuff, or cliff edge grottos, and classic bush that’s rough.

 

Make sure the day is long and goes from cool to warm to cold.

Wear a warm top and beanie, take it off and don a singlet job,

Put on a long top, beanie, headlight for running in the night.

Freeze and thank the bosses for the fleece, and Brendan for advising copious grease.

If you have some shame left, don a fluoro top, loose, ungainly, reflective, a ridiculous clowning smock.

You will look and feel a right cock. (but safe :)).

 

Now pain is on the menu, not a knock or strain to suffer.

No, lets refer to the belly and its gassy misery sister and brother,

Take a stop above, below? Dry or Wet, I forget, but hurry,

Dig with your toe and whip them daks dow, there’s a vile slurry.

Do it often in the dark, turn off your head lamp friend,

No one wants to see you squatting. coming round the bend.

 

Oh, it’s dark, the phone is dead, the watch stopped too, no bother.

You’re in a strange place, without others, closer to the end?

Oh damn you Petzel for your electrons have also come to an end.

There is hope though, careful planning made you bring another, two is good but three is best,

Now tip toe to the final test.

 

After all the gruesome food, and glorious country miles

980 awkward steps lay wait in the dark,  before you crack some smiles,

Some felt bad, others flew, it isn’t all that grim.

Grovel up and reach the top you are almost free to stop.

It’s over, wow, you did it, it’s 2 am and cold.

Hmmm, find a bus, none, family? In bed.

Walk it! Yes, Off with you, but maybe hail that bus instead.

 

The Hotel is close and now you’re in, a shower, then pain, ache add anxiety sets in.

Lucky if your gorgeous wife doses you up and puffs a pillow for the legs,

A 3-year-old is in the middle and now its time to rest.

 

That’s enough verse, I am a crap runner and worse poet. I had the best day running of my life. It all came together. The guts gave up though at km 80-something. That’s ok. It was a walk-a-thon from there anyway. We all ground up those last fire trails in a slow march of the dead. I just went off track a few times.

 

I managed this only through the help of other people. My gorgeous and wonderful wife/partner Lesley and daughter/support crew Gigi. My mentor and Guru Mike who sent me texts along the way, ‘You’re on a golf course.’, thanks mate, a big help! He was the catalyst for this folly. My staff who put up with me running and running late every day. And my coach, Hanny who I have never met. She wrote the program that allowed a man my age only able to train 5-7, maximum 10 hours a week to run a hundred k’s. Most of all, I remember this, I stopped and picked some flowers on the way.

 

Gigi and wildflowers (weeds?).

Gigi and wildflowers (weeds?).

Here is a Gallery of Images from aurora images, also taken along the way.

Here are a few pics I took and some the wonderful Lesley took as well. Adios!

 

Inov8 Race Ultra Vest 2014-Update.

Further use of the Inov8 Race Ultra Vest has given me moderate grief.

The loop holding my bladder tube has broken, I can fix this myself but should I have too? It is unfortunately too small (UTMB/TNF100 etc NO WAY). If you see some one wearing one at an event with any mandatory gear, ask them where their sherpa is. If you use the bladder the back compartment is too compromised. You can squish, squeeze a lot in (not all I am afraid) but the rear compartment then goes round and it is now NOT easy to wear. Also, good luck filling the bladder and then getting it back in.

Busted bunge.

Busted bunge.

This may not be what the thing is for. It is what I bought it for though.

So, the vest is a winner on many fronts, just can’t handle a big load. It is great if only part filled, treated very gently and you are 10km to the next checkpoint.

The clips still suck.

AM

Inov8 Race Ultra Vest 2014 – Review.

Well you are sure to have heard of this. If not you will. Inov8 have come up with a new take on the race vest, sort of. They have moved the bottles to the side and low, plus decided to use crazy clips that will infuriate all who buy one.

We are ready right???

Vest on, never mind the goose wearing it.

The Inov8 web site has a nice spiel about the vest and I would point you there for information and glorious pics. Here you can read about a punter/goose like me, using one.

Inov8 web site and Race Ultra Vest page, no mention of clips…..

First, it looks great and is well finished. It is light and very adjustable. One size fits all, well you can adjust it to fit you, I did in a few minutes and it fits better than anything I have tried before. You get 2 x 500ml bottles and a 2l bladder from Hydrapac. That’s almost the price ($100 AUD) accounted for. Compared to any S-Lab kit it’s cheap and all the bits and pieces make sense, unlike the complicated, Salomon stuff. It wont fall apart either, see previous brand.

You get all this in, easy peasy just using the front pockets.

You get all this in, easy peasy just using the front pockets.

So its comfy and has low bottles, do they work? Yes, the bottles are fine. They don’t get in the way and as they are a bit down low, the splash-splosh noise factor does not seem to bother me much. That’s a big plus for anal me. Ultimate Direction (UD), I am talking to you, noisy bottles on the chest shit me. There is no bounce.

The chest pockets are ample and will easily hold an iPhone with a cover. Scott Jurek are you there??!!! The UD vest does not.

Mmmm comfy, well made, looks good, nice bottle set up, the bladder? This is a winner too. An open top at the back makes so much sense. Easy. You don’t need to dismantle your gear and re-pack it to fill the bladder, UD I am talking to you. The tube routing is even sensible, straight forward and intuitive. Salomon, ‘Why under arms? Why make me pay for a bladder? Oh you gave me 2 free leaky, squishy sperm collection bottles…….’, I digress.

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Really well made.

So, fits, water is easy and simple, looks tops and wont fall apart, rust up or drive you mad with splish splash every step, WHAT IS WRONG WITH IT???

The clips, they have used a new clip design for every little clip on it. They are impossible to undo. I tried it on and almost had to cut the straps off. I was contemplating seeing my patients wearing the damn Gimp vest all afternoon once it arrived. Race one and I could only undo one. I was tired and sad about it. Two doctor friends could not undo it either. We must be stupid? I have almost mastered it now but only by brute force and wearing an Elastoplast strip on my finger, I suspect I will develop a callous.

The clips, you push that tab away and it unlocks, sometimes.

The clips, you push that tab away and it unlocks, sometimes.

This lunacy aside, the bag is almost big enough for a big race, I have not packed it yet but it has stretch and a net on the back, I will make it work. There are optional pockets you can buy that replace the dreaded straps + clips with a pocket+ more of those wretched clips, offering some extra space. Regular Joe’s like me will need them.

My verdict? Like a Shakespearian hero it has it all but ultimately a fatal flaw. Would you knowingly buy a race vest you might die getting out of? One that could send you into a frothing madness at your final checkpoint in dream race delirium? You might, because it does everything else perfectly and Elastoplast might be on the mandatory gear list…… 🙂

Link- Another review from Endurance Limit.

Link- Ian Corless is a fan, no mention of the f’ing clips mind.

Mt Glorious Mountain Trails- A race up a Mountain or two.

Saturday the 22nd of February was the day, 147 mad souls travelled to Cedar Flats and the start line for this years Mt Glorious Mountain Trails race. TRAQ (Trail Runners Association of Queensland) had managed events perfectly with busses and easy parking/registration. I was excited, today I would give the Luna sandals a race baptism and a nifty new Inov8 race vest. I had also regained sensation in my right leg post disk prolapse! Wow.

We are ready right???

We are ready right???

Proper running footwear was worn.

Proper running footwear was worn.

The course looked straight forward, bit of a climb then easy, down hill and then up again. I could do this!? Stupid me.

Looks simple enough?

Looks simple enough?

Things started well with a drive up through the bush then rainforest of Mt Glorious and later down to Cedar Flats. Only dilemma was, it looked steep, the ridges menacing and despite riding my bike up here many times, I had never run it. The cosy Mini felt better each minute, I didn’t want to leave the car. My daughter is three, she won’t notice if I pike? Still Mike my trusty running companion and chief motivator/guru seemed up beat? Peering down the valley towards the creek line below, ‘It looks kinda steep Aido?’ bloody Hell.

Three waves coalesced at the starting line and were sent off with a bag piper in full kilt-kit. I think she played Waltzing Matilda? The plan was simple, take it easy up the initial steep bit and then hit the go button. Mmmmmm, my 4-500m ‘steep bit’ went on for about 4 km. After 20 minutes I was deep in ‘the red’ and only 2km from the start. We were ALL walking, I could not talk and was reprimanded by a New Caledonian lady for not cheering her on, how?? “Alez!” Gasp, groan and sniffle next time, I promise. As runners, you all know how it goes, just keep going and it will end, we don’t stop. I was tempted.

Wave one, ready to go!

Wave one, ready to go!

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The sporty, cheerful New Caledonian. All in Black…….

After 4 km and 450m of climbing it did ease off. We were now atop Northbrook Mountain and doing a few up and down bits, it was cool. Next came a fun set of switchbacks and a long fast descent. My Luna sandals were a bit too minimal for this, ouch ouch ouch! (I was wearing Mono’s the street/road/trail version and not one of their trail specific options). A chap who runs by Phoenix Aquila came past me, it was great to meet my internet friend, a speedy Mt Warning resident who might be a hippy. I chatted to Silvia Smith from ‘near Rockhampton’, she used to be from Holland and has beaten me twice now. We are both doing the North Face 100 in May, why?

Steep and rocky trails. Ouch!

Silvia’s GoPro race video.

The pleasant trail soon turned nasty again after a typical TRAQ low-key check point at England Creek. Mmmmm pretzels. We were on the up again. Not as bad as last time, I could run (at walking pace, 90% of it). My walking was slower, more painful and harder on my ticker so I Ultra shuffled/jogged next to a walking Mike. 600m of climbing followed over 10km. That sounds easy, it was a struggle.

With time, the soil turned from decomposed granite, to red volcanic stuff and the rainforest loomed. Then bang, we were in it. Ever walk into the lobby of a hotel in summer? This is how we felt. 5 Degrees cooler and soft earth under our sore feet. A few km of this pleasant business and we took a sharp left onto even more lovely primo single track. The vines and roots were all deftly marked in yellow TRAQ tape to save us from our selves. We hit some stairs, a final obstacle, reminiscent of something out of ‘The Hobbit’, moss covered and wet the Lunas slipped, I was crawling on all fours up this stuff.

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Cool rainforest section. Nice.

Beautiful rainforest trails.

Beautiful rainforest trails.

We could now hear the motorbikes and the odd cheer so picked up the pace for home, I fell over. Up again and into the sun and finish line! Nobody noticed, two sandal clad warriors strode towards the line, they were presenting awards to the winners and coaxing people onto busses. I did a Kilian Jornet and blew kisses to the unaware crowd. My daughter declared me ‘disgusting’. A heroes welcome?!

It was a great day out. We finished in our 3 hour projected time and did it in what most people would call ‘flip-flops’. No body was injured. My wife and daughter soon recovered from our gross muddy appearance and let us get in the car for home. I had a massage to attend!

TRAQ need a big thank you. No corporate signs, cheap, fun and friendly. A great race! Hats off Ian and  Huberien. To the winners, they are superheroes, our German friends Florian and Moritz run like mountain goats and Harriet makes the hills seem flat. We are in awe. Lesley and Gigi transported Mike and I to and from the event in style and good cheer, I am blessed. The only gripes I have are my own, why so slow? Why so sore? Well the answer is simple, it was a Mountain Trail, up Brisbane’s best mountain, Mt Glorious!

Post script, here is a great video made of the race by Silvia Smith, from near Rockhampton….. incase you missed link above. Silvia Smith GoPro video.