2016…….  

 

three friends running the same race!

So, what are we doing this year and why??

Just three races, that’s it. A thing called The Northburn 100 in Otago, New Zealand, the UTA 100 come May and the CCC in August. I might be doing a night race later this week.

Why? Why do this? Obsession, boredom or fatalism? Self hate? I can not say for sure but I do know, that on the day I race, running,  then plodding headlong into the unknown, doing something outside normal, it conjures a feeling nothing else can manage. Maybe Sky divers get it too and can keep at it all day, I do not know.

Running ultras on trails takes time to prepare and patience to enjoy. It makes the rest of life easier too. You start using the same tools, doing what you can, trying to find what works, then sticking to and improving on a winning formula.

I am quite late to all this, I used to think I was a ‘lucky’, soul who did not really have to try at life, it just worked out. It wasn’t, I wasn’t.

Since doing these events and admittedly for a time before, getting other parts of my life in order,  I have started to do a little better. It’s making a difference. To me, anyway. My family might disagree.

So 2016, it’s only three races, 360 and a few km long with 20 500m + up, I think the same down? I hope the other side of life goes well for me, it’s the main contest.

5 days a week, every week.

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I plan to keep this page a little more up to date and even do some retrospective gazing at what went right and wrong  in 2015. For my sake,  to be honest.

And I’m still wearing silly shoes/sandals 🙂 and maybe some sensible ones.

slightly silly party, Carson Zombie Racers.

 

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!

 

The Pinnacles Trail Classic 2014- Upper Brookfield.

How can I write a race report without disaster? What went wrong? What was interesting?

Well, my dog and daughter kept me up the night before, leading to an evaporation of the lift I was promised. Young Harman tried to eat my race vest as I stumbled out the door in the dark. Not very impressive???

Beagle sabotage.

Beagle sabotage

The race description sounded tough, a real brute. Starting at the Gold Creek Reserve it takes an 18km loop around the reservoir. Clockwise this year. I don’t know if that makes it easier or not. It was not easy. The signature feature of the race is the short sharp climbs, 18 in all. A mini Ronde Van Vlaanderen, or Tour of Flanders for the cyclists out there. Not a lot of climbing in all, 900m or so in 18km but the rapidity/frequency and grade of these beasts was telling.

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Wave 1.

 

 

 

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Profile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About 120 starters took off in waves from 6-30. After a pretty low-key address from race director Peter Holles you knew it was a TRAQ race, friendly, informal, relaxed.

 

Sensible shoes.

Sensible shoes.

I took the final group as I was late after parking a way down the road, I was not carpooling and have a conspicuous vehicle. Best not alienate myself further with my fellow trail runners. It all went ok from the gun, I was soon passed by almost everyone and overtook one sole runner requesting a ‘new leg’ due to cramp. Up and down we went, I ran most this time. Walking to the crest of only half a dozen. The scenery was stunning, wide eucalyptus forest with spots of grass trees and a quaint hippy/yuppy house made of stone along the way. This is mountainous country and I knew it well from past adventures on the MTB.

I was wearing some sensible shoes, New Balance numbers designed by Anton Krupicka, they are not available anymore but are low, fast and very minimal BUT with a rock plate! Wow, this course needed it.

After a while a question did come up. There are 18 climbs right? I had lost count and was starting to swear. The colourful signs along the way didn’t give a number, was ‘The Beast’ 8 or 9??? Still, the km were coming down and I knew the last 3-4 km had to be down hill. At this point, Ms New Leg came past me, bummer. I caught her up again going down the penultimate hill but debated the chivalry of this sort of thing. This internal monologue lasted all the way to the final dash when I made a run for home. chivalry be damned!

Rough trails.

Rough trails.

Standard steep fare......

Standard steep fare……

It all went well. There is no way I could have gone any harder. I was not last and had a great time. The family were there to greet me, even the Beagle (No domestic pets allowed). The organisation was as always perfect and the winners awesome. A great local race. I will be back! I even donated my massage to Lesley, who looked like she needed it more. A beagle pup can do that to you!

A big thank you to TRAQ for putting on another great race and to all the volunteers who make these things happen.

Support crew.

Support crew.

 

TRAQ- Link to results.

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

Trail training in the city. Spring Hill trails.

Trail running is in many ways, a privilege. We run in the bush, often in National Parks or State Forests. Most of us have jobs or study so can’t always make it to the nearest mountain for an adventure. This is where we have to use our imagination.

Albert park, incline and soft grass.

Albert park, incline and soft grass.

The Windmill, historic top of Spring Hill.

The Windmill, historic top of Spring Hill.

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Steps, good training for TNF100.

In my job I have a park over the road. Apart from being littered with hobos and the occasional unfortunate murder victim, it offers good training. There are steep slopes, scrub, dirt, steps, rocks, pine needles and all sorts stuff. You might find it a bit repetitive but you can have a very good time running around in Wickham Park and then skip back to work a regular urban warrior.

Get in the lift and go run.

Get in the lift and go run.

Rock hopping in Roma Street Parklands.

Rock hopping in Roma Street Parklands.

You can swim at lunch too!

You can swim at lunch too!

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.