I entered this race intending to run at about 80% as a last long run prior to TNF100. I had been camping out in Capertee for a few days prior so my preparation of boozing and lounging around wasnt the best but I was only intending to go out and enjoy myself.
I did have any time in mind for the day, I told my girlfriend id probably be done at some point after 6hrs as I was meeting them somewhere for lunch.
Got to the start line, had a chat with the only person I knew (KAOS) from NRG, positioned myself at the front for a change and then we were off.
Settled into a nice rythm early on. Keeping an eye on my pace I was probably doing 3.40s on the flats and dropping it down to the low 3’s on the decent but feeling comfortable and running well within myself.
Crossed over the creek, well actually practically fell in the creek, and then it was the longest scramble of my life up Mt Solitary.
I was wearing my crappiest pair of trainers ( i only realised this at the start line) with huge holes in them and I was having issues with my laces coming undone due to the mud and crap, So i had to stop every now and again to do these up. Probably did this 20 times throughout the day.
I remember climbing Mt solitary thinking it was strange that no-one had caught me but i was happy to be where i was and I was in no doubt that the rest of the gang would catch up. Having never been to MT solitary before I had no idea how big it was and it just seemed to go on forever. I think had I known in advance I may have slowed myself down a notch.
Soon after reaching the top 2 runners came by as i was yet again doing up my laces. Beaver introduced himself and I guessed the other runner was Fats having read all about his amazing 6ft exploits not too long ago. I was in fine company. Slightly daunting at the same time too..
The first thing i noticed was Beavers gaiters wishing i had a pair of those (if your reading this, where did you get them from?)
The second thing i noticed was that they were both looking extremely comfortable and having a good old chat whilst motoring along.
Soon after they caught up with me I snagged my water bladder on a branch so I was without water for 10kms. Not ideal..Luckily it was a cold wet day so it didnt feel too bad.
Nutrition wise I didnt pack much. A couple of minature twirls and 3 museli bars. I managed to ration this out until the end having a bite to eat every hour.
Beaver, Fats and I then ran together for most of the way to the stairs. We all took turns at being in front at various stages. At some point, Fats and I lost Beaver but he soon caught back up on the stairs. He was making really good ground and passed me easily. I made it to the checkpoint just as they were leaving. I was eager to get going to catch the others up but fortunately Buzz saw that my bladder had split and forced me to carry a couple of powerades in my backpack. At the time i wasnt keen but an hour later i was extremely grateful. So thanks heaps guys for knocking some sense into me.
Once out of the aid station it was back down the stairs. Quite an experience. Almost lost my life on a few occassions but no long term damage. I was told my other runners that the lead men were only a couple of minutes ahead so i just concentrated on running as best as i could in the hope that i would see them again.
The 2 minutes of lead they both had soon turned into 5 minutes then 6 minutes as i started to tire. I knew at that stage I wasnt going to be in contention so I just made sure not to do anything stupid.
The long decent into the valley was excruciatingly painful. Seemed to go on and on and on. Have never been so relieved to see a hill to climb. I made an effort to run as much as possible and power hike the parts i couldnt run. Set myself a target of finishing in under 5.15 to keep myself honest and I just about made it. All up my effort was more likely 90% than 80% but its hard to reign down the competitive spirit.
8 cleansing beers later and a night spent on a blowup mattress has made for an interesting recovery. This is the first race where my upper body has been sore. I have to put this down to the scramble up Mt Solitary.
Looking forward to next year already and now i know what im in for i’ll spend less time running on the road and more on the trails. Still, I dont think any amount of prepartion will fully equip me for the beast that is Mt Solitary.