Once at the start line it was obvious that it was going to be a fast race with aussie reps Brendan Davies and Mick Donges up for some fun along with other serious competitors like Andrew Tuckey and Alex Matthews.
My stretch goal was to try and break 3hrs which i knew would be ambitious but I set off with that in mind. I let the fast guys speed off whilst i settled into a decent rhythm. I had my ipod with me but only started wearing it after 5km as it became obvious that this wouldnt be a day for chatting on the trail.
I wore my NB MT101's for this race as they are so damn comfortable and super light which makes uphilling relatively easy.
The halfway mark was hit in 1hr 28 minutes and 30 seconds so i knew 3hrs would be tight as its mostly uphill from there.
I was thankful for my conservative start as I started reeling people in around the half way mark. Around the 28km mark I caught up with Ewan Horsburgh. This was timely as I was beginning to feel the effects of the race and it would have been all too easy to step off the gas. We seemed to take it in turns running in front. I tended to pass on the inclines whilst Ewan would maintain a decent clip on the flats. This kept the pace honest but I was also conscious I was falling off the required pace for a stab at 3hrs.
At about the 35km mark I managed to lose Ewan and I was on my own for the next few km's. This didnt last long as David Hosking caught me up running fairly lightly. In the distance we could make Alex Matthews who was obviously having a hard day. As we passed him it looked like he had taken a nasty fall and was nutting it out to the finish. Towards the 40km mark my legs were beginning to cramp up and David was looking hard to chase down. All my thoughts were on the post-race burger.
Finally I was on the home straight and I tried one last sprint for glory down the straight. This was thwarted however by the amount of mud so i was slipping and sliding rather than making good ground.
In the end I crossed the line in 6th place in 3.02.45. A 7 minute improvement on last year which is good progression. I probably lost a couple of minutes in the back half of the race but there is always next year to crack 3hrs. Before this race only 10 men in the 11 year history of the race had broken 3 hours. This year the top 4 all came in under 3.
Top 10 results below:
1. 6 Andrew Tuckey ASQUITH NSW 35 M 2:47:05 3:58 2. 163 Mick Donges BLUE MOUNTAINS NSW 28 M 2:48:10 4:00 3. 4 Tim Cochrane WESTMEAD NSW 31 M 2:54:11 4:08 4. 3 Brendan Davies BELFIELD NSW 34 M 2:55:23 4:10 5. 141 David Hosking BROULEE NSW 43 M 3:02:35 4:20 6. 5 Ian Gallagher GREENWICH NSW 29 M 3:02:45 4:20 7. 1 Alex Matthews TURRAMURRA NSW 27 M 3:06:19 4:25 8. 183 Ewan Horsburgh KATOOMBA NSW 33 M 3:09:16 4:30 9. 166 Stuart Spencer CAMPERDOWN NSW 33 M 3:09:43 4:30 10. 9 Martin Pengilly TURRAMURRA NSW 44 M 3:11:59 4:33
My focus is now firmly on the Great North Walk 100 miler in November. I feel massively under-cooked for this compared to other training diaries I often look at. There are many different ideas out there as to how to train for a 100 mile race but at the end of the day everyones body reacts differently to various training methods. Some guys love the mega mileage, others prefer short intense workouts, whilst a few (ultra168) like mega mileage intense runs!
The main point I keep hearing though is that one of the biggest battles is getting to the start line in one piece. There is a fine line between doing heavy training and becoming overtrained. Once the symptoms of overtraining set in then your pretty much screwed. On the same note, if your under trained then its going to be a hell of a long day on your feet!
There have been 44 withdrawals from the race so far most notably some of the big guns in the womens race including last years champ Beth Cardelli and Allison Lilley. Hopefully the withdrawals arent a result of anything too serious and i hope all the other competitors make it to the start in one piece.
For me, completion of the race is going to come down to managing the pain. It's going to hurt, alot, and i'll have to prepare myself for this mentally - embrace it even. I've been reading Marshall Ulrich's new book 'Running America' where he talks about managing the pain he experiences whilst running 60+ miles per day. At one stage his foot is so badly injured that he can barely walk let alone run. He decides to 'disown' his foot. Refuses to acknowledge that the foot or the pain associated with it is his. Crazy stuff. But he plugs away and his foot ever so slowly heals. Hopefully for me i wont encounter any serious injuries and i'll just be able to methodically plug away until the finish. Im super pumped for this!