I’m a glutton for punishment which is why i was back at the Glenbrook Marathon this year.
My sole ambition was to break 3 hours which isnt as straightforward as it sounds on a trail course with 800+ meters of vertical.
Last year I came close, in fact I did break 3 hours for the proper marathon distance (42.2km) however the course was long measuring over 43.5kms which pushed my finishing time out to just over 3 hours.
That year I was racing Andy Lee – no slouch and he kept me focus the entire race as I only passed him with a couple of kilometers to go.
I recall (after reading the race report) that I went through half way in 90 minutes so that was the focus this year to ensure I had a chance of cracking that magical barrier.
Before the start Luke Doyle advised that the course was measured correctly this year so sub 3 was on! Sadly Andy Lee or other fast regulars hadn’t signed up so I wasnt sure who my competition would be. Of course Ewan was there but Strava stalking showed that he had 40km+ in his legs from the day before. I did see Philip Balnave at the start. This guy is a bit of an enigma. I’ve met him a few times at races and he is a gun runner with a 2.40 road marathon to his name. If you were to look at him you would think he had just stepped out of his garden after doing a spot of gardening. Think bucket hat, casual shirt and sandals! Looks like a nutter but he can definitely run. A nice guy to boot.
I knew he would be a challenger and one to watch.
With that in mind we set off at about 7.45. The start was fast as I dialled in on the task at hand. The first half of the course I feel is harder than the 2nd half so 90 minutes for halfway would be a challenge and more so without having Andy to chase. I didnt feel as fast as last year and felt like i was working harder to hold pace – in fact I really had to push it to get to halfway in 90 minutes. Once through that part I knew if I’d need to bank time on the downhills for the inevitable trudge up the inclines on sapped legs.
The run to the Nepean turnaround felt great as I got my second wind. Its a nice out and back section and I pushed hard in the hope of getting onto the Pisgah trail before seeing anyone which would mean i was a few kilometers in front. These mini goals really help to maintain focus and make the race fun.
The Pisgah trail is 4 kilometers out and 4 kilometers back of overgrown single track badness. Its a gradual downhill until the turnaround then a gradual uphill. At one point I pulled 3 thorns out of my face but other than that it was uneventful…which is a good thing.
As expected, I saw Philip Balnave crusing as I was on my return. I calculated that I was 3-4 kilometers in front by that stage so barring a disaster I had the win in the bag.
From the Pisgah turnaround its an uphill grind to the 35 kilometer mark. It was hard work as my legs were feeling it by this stage. I even had a 10 second walk up a short steep stretch before pushing on.
Thankfully, the downhill cruise begun and i calculated that i just needed to tick over 4 minute kilometers to get in under 3 hours. I was wary of pushing to hard as last year I started to really cramp up so I was doing just enough to ensure I made it to the finish. With 1 kilometer to go the cramps started to kick in but I was more or less home and dry so it didnt have too much of an impact.
I was a happy camper as I crossed the line in a touch over 2.57.
On reflection the race felt easier on my body than last year. I didnt drink all of the water in my bottle whereas last year I had a couple of refills and stocked up on food at a number of the checkpoints – so thats an improvement. No leg pain or cramping at the finish unlike at 6 Foot where i was hurting for a good 20 minutes after – so i might starting to be getting into shape.
The Running Wild guys put on a great event and id encourage anyone to turn up and give their series a crack.