Time: 9 hrs 56 mins 3 secs
Rate: 7'15" per km
Weather: Perfect running night/day, clear, calm, temp 17-24 degrees, humidity 30%
Stopped at Nambucca Heads overnight on the way up so went for a short 6km jog on Friday morning along the edge of the river out to the sea on a perfect morning in northern NSW. Arrived Caboolture in the afternoon and settled in for a few days in sunny, warm Qld. Heard all the news about drought breaking rain down south so was glad to be far away. Saturday was spent on a remembering cruise around the course which, allowing for a few changes in directions over the years was still all familiar especially with the first 3 hours of running in the dark.
Run day started early with the alarm going off at 1:00AM for a 3 AM start. Meeting up with some ultra running regulars again, the RD gave the usual instructions about not getting lost, a few course changes and away 16 starters (13 male and 3 female)in the 50 miler went into the dark. Several groups formed and as everyone had headlamps or torches, seeing the tracks was reasonably easy. The course at this stage was dirt roads and sandy fire trails and easy going although running was slower due to much chatter with most catching up on the latest running news. Many are going to Western States and Hardrock 100 mile events in USA in a few weeks time, using this event as a last long run.
Bit of a scare for a some of us in the dark when a carpet python was spotted asleep on the side of the road. This turned out to be the lone bit of wildlife seen except for a couple of noisy trail bike riders later in the day.
Up to 30km and a bit beyond, all was well. As the saying goes in ultra running "if you feel good,don't worry it will soon pass". And so it was until I hit the power lines. A rough track under a section of power lines as rough as there is on any run course I have run. It's a length of about 5km of very steep, undulating dirt track, rutted parts, steep downs and ups, hold on to the trees on the side, dark and muddy in parts and generally very slow. From memory, not that bad, but just did not handle it and lost plenty of time. It was also the time I developed a couple of blisters due to the uneven ground which later caused more lost time. At that stage I had covered about 45km in around 5 hours.
Eating and drinking were under control as there were 2 stops on the course where we were weighed and compared with you starting weight. Any changes are most likely to be dehydration so careful note is taken. Fortunately, my weight did not change all run.
Another nasty section of 10km plus leading up to the 60km mark has more steep, short parts, care required going down and up. Sideways is a good option, no running or even walking at times. The last long climb hits at the 65km mark with something similar to the front of Mt Ainslie only a dirt track. Slow walking for me but it is the last difficult part.
Finally found some rhythm heading home so with only 15km to go, it should have been a breeze. However, soft sandy tracks and feeling tired but OK, the last 2 hours were slow but steady. Even found some faster 6 minute per km pace at times and heading into the last drink station with 5.3km to go, I had 40 minutes to break 10 hours. How easy is that!. Not very easy. Charging along at 7 mins per km on nice soft sandy track, I kicked a rock or tree root and over I went, I thought "done a CJ" what a time, but no damage, dust off the sand, check the Garmin, OK onwards and homewards.
In the end, I broke 10 hours, nowhere near 9 hours but it didn't matter. I had a great day, love the event, won a prize in the barrel draw, got the GH cup, the medal for finishing, had ran over 80km on a perfect day.
The start/finish location at Woodford was perfect,a 100 metres of road and into the bush, BBQ, showers,the swimming pool reopened just for us for a nice soak in the water. Woke up the next day, apart from a couple of blisters,I could have gone for a run. I have recovered better from this than any other run in the last few years. Just shows what a bit (lot) of training does for you. I finished 14th, the girls beat me home, but I had a good day out.
Good trip away, very enjoyable with very experienced people organising the event.
A few days rest now, and then find something else later in the year to tackle. It will be winter soon, so it won't be too far.