Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fitzroy Falls Firetrail Marathon

Wow, what a day!!

Woke at 4.50am and had 2 peanut butter and banana bagels, chia seeds and a glass of water, jumped in the car and was on my way with Phill to Fitzroy Falls for my my first marathon.

Arrived at 7.15am and located my race number - 4 then proceeded to warm up (something new to me!!).

At 7.55 a group of roughly 100 runners lined up at the start line. The faster guys positioned themselves at the front and i popped myself in the middle. In my heart i was really hoping for a 3.30 finish but was concerned about my shins seizing up like they have been doing the last couple of weeks. I certainly didn't want to be going out too fast at the start.

8am and we're off! I run with the crowd for the first 100 metres until i decide I've warmed up enough (amazing what adrenaline can do!) then start making my way towards the front. Worryingly i discover i am in with a chasing group of about 4 - the lead runner is already way ahead.  I look at my watch and see my 1st km has gone by in 4mins 17sec, not my intention. I make  an effort to slow down as there is still 41km's left and I could easily blow up.

I get chatting with a guy called Mick (an 82 minute half marathoner!) and the next 9 km's seem to tick by all too easily. My heart rate is a high 170bpm and I'm in unknown territory. I have done no interval training or tempo training so i have no idea if i can maintain this. Certainly my legs still feel good but i never run with this much effort.

I hit the 10km mark in just over 44mins and at this point a guy in a backpack surges ahead. We hit a hill and I make the decision that I'm going to go all out - if i blow up trying then so be it, but today I'm just going to see what my body is capable of.

I feel strong on the hill and i soon overtake backpack guy and I'm now running on my own in 2nd place. Wow, never in a million years did i think this would be the case. I'm aware of the pedigree behind me so i cant relax. I can still hear breathing and footsteps so i must keep pushing forward.

The next 7 kms is uphill and i remain on my own then there is a lovely steep section of track from 17km through to 21km - a chance to lower my heart rate to 165 bpm! I still cant believe it is that high but I'm determined not to let up. I go through the half marathon mark in 1hr 33 mins - a PB by 1 minute! This amazes me since i remember being so exhausted after my half marathon in January but here i was still feeling ok. I did some rough calculations and figured I wouldn't be able to maintain my current pace but might be able to hold on  and come in around 3hrs 20mins. This current section was an out and back and this is where i saw the lead runner who looked strong and offered some words of encouragement as he charged off. I figured he was about 7 minutes in front. On my return i saw the guys who were chasing me - another adrenaline rush! Running in a pack of 3 these hounds were looking strong and i knew i would be caught if i let up off the gas. Fortunately i was still clocking 4.30min/kms and i figured if i could keep that up then i should be ok - i just had no idea if i could keep it up or not.

From 21km through to 30km the running was mostly flat trail. I managed to get into a comfortable rhythm and was feeling good apart from a minor tumble at 25km.

30km's in and I'm really starting to feel the effects of the race now. I've been running on my own for the last 20kms and I'm really having to dig deep to maintain my pace. I hit a long stretch of road and cant see anyone behind me so i take a 10sec walk break. The relief is instant and I'm on my way again. The fear factor of being caught is the only thing keeping me going.

30km through to the finish is all gradual uphill and I'm playing mind games with myself to get me to the finish. 'Only another 2 km until i hit the 35km mark then its only 5 km till the 40km mark then once I'm at 40km I'm pretty much finished..'

I have another couple of 10 second walking breaks to compose myself from 30km - 40km then i knock the last couple of kms off in around 4.18min/km.

I come into the finish stretch and I'm greeted by a small crowd and I can see my girlfriend snapping away on the camera. That's a nice surprise as I told her that I should be done by 4hrs and hopefully by 3hrs 30 but no sooner. Fortunately she has more confidence in my running than i do!

2nd place in 3hrs 9 mins and 11 seconds - great way to spend a Saturday morning

I was about 6 minutes off the winner and about 3 minutes in front of 3rd and 4th place.

Fuel = 1.5 bananas, 3 endura gels, 1 mini mars bar
Fluid = 1.5 litres of water with 3 nunn tablets

Good to be finished!
Feeling human again


  1. Ben Sloman (aka Slug)October 10, 2010 at 4:51 PM


    Slug here mate.

    Definately keen to join you on some long runs. I do most of my training in the Garigal National Park, but also like to get up on to the Trailwalker course around Berowra etc.

    Shoot me an email, and we can go from there.



  2. Ben Sloman (aka Slug)October 10, 2010 at 4:52 PM

    My email address is

  3. fantastic run! congrats!!
    you were flying when I saw you at the second "out&back"
    unfortunately i didn't made the 3h30min. blow up at ~30km and had to walk a long time
    may be I see at the Glenbrook Trail Marathon

  4. wow, f...n brilliant man! what a pace! congratulations, what a great feeling!

  5. Epic story. Congrats. Having never met you I was not sure of your awesome capabilities and was reading the story waiting for the inevitable "then it hit me". Never came, 3:09 is epic! great work!

  6. Hey Ian
    Congrats, that's one fantastic time. That training has been paying off, and perhaps the shin issue was a subliminal taper!!

    You'll be smashing TNF next year, just got to keep that up for another 8 hours ;-)

    After reading your post I was inspired to go out in the torrential rain and run a quite 42.5kms - took me 4:17 though, not quite in your league. That said my HR wasn't up around 175 - I'd be having a sit down and a cup of sweet tea if mine was up there!

    Enjoy you're well earned rest,

  7. Hey great run and great report Ian. You'll be dangerous with a few marathons under your belt. However, I can't let this comment from your report go through to the keeper without comment: "From 21km through to 30km the running was mostly flat trail." Were we in the same race?? Just after 21k is the first turn-a-round point and then just before 24k drink stop there is that monster hill. Short - but the steepest on the course. Then there is a decent and hill up to the drink stop at about 27k (which doubles as the 30k drink stop). Most of the second half of the second turn-around point up to the 30k mark is a long uphill section. I'd call that about the toughest 9k section of the course - and to you its a "mostly flat trail". I guess its all relative!

  8. Hi Doddy,

    Well i could be wrong. I was running in a bit of trance a fair bit. Certainly the turn around sections were steep, i remember that. The monster hill you refer to almost ruined me. Was certain my calves were going to burst.

    Funny, only a few days have passed and so has most of the memories of the pain.

    See you at Glenbrook!