Monday, 29 July 2013

Jabulani Challenge Trail Marathon 2013

What an awesome day at the Jabulani Challenge with perfect conditions for trail running in one of the nicest parts of Sydney. Bel, Paul and I met at the Bobbin Head top gate at 6:30 and cruised down to the start/finish area in B's car.

Paul and I had signed up for the 43km event and B has doing her first ever first trail running event in the 12km.

Settling into 3rd position early on in the race
We collected our timing chips and race numbers and prepared for the run. After a short briefing we were quickly underway. Paul had a few dramas at the start and started a minute late. I wasn't too worried cause I knew we would catch up soon enough.

I settled into third position as we made our way onto the Gibberagong trail. The pace was higher than I would have liked but I was keen to run hard today and see what happened. We reached the first big climb and I decided that the pace was suicidal so I dropped back into a hike whilst the other two ran away up the climb. After the climb it flattened out for a while until reaching Wahroonga and then taking the turn onto the fire trails over to Turramurra.

Paul flies on descents and sure enough it wasn't long before he caught up. I enjoyed the company briefly but Paul was quick to move to the front and do the pace making. We were hammering on the fire trails at 4:30/km pace. I knew it was too fast but I wanted to try and hold onto Paul as long as possible.

Cruising with Paul on the Marrua
Firetrail at the 16km point
As we reached Turramurra it decided that it was silly to hold on any longer and fell off the back. About a kilometre later I caught up to him as he had stopped at the aid station to top up on fuel. We made our way together along the Marrua fire trail towards the lookout. This section was an out and back. I was ok on the flat section but fell behind on the descent down to the lookout. The view from the lookout was awesome although I only got to enjoy it for a second. I touched the turn around sign and the started making my way up the climb.

It was great seeing the other runners coming back the other way although some of the folk coming up behind looked stronger than I felt. I made it back along the fire trail and caught Paul again at the aid station. We cruised along together for a kilometre or so before he dropped me for good on the descent of the Sphinx trail.

I made it to the bottom and the was quickly onto the Warrimoo trail climb. I slogged it up here but I could tell I was really on my last legs. I made my way behind the houses and down the big descent into the Kuring-Gai Wildflower Gardens. There was another big climb here and it was were I really started to fade. I finally lost sight of Paul as there was simply no climbing strength left. I walked to the top and then hoped onto the bike path. It's a smooth path and it allowed me to keep the legs turning over. I hit the aid station and started the short out and back along the fire trail.

Descending the Sphinx Track at the
24km mark
The inevitable soon happened as one of the fresher guys passed by me. I saw Paul as he made his way back the other way and wished him luck for. The last 15km or so. I deliberately hadn't looked at the distance covered the whole time and was relying on my course knowledge to judge where I was at. I was glad I went with that strategy as I was seriously in the hurt box and it would have been a little demoralizing to see how far was still to go.

I passed the turnaround and received a slight mental boost that from now on every step was one step closer to the finish. It wasnt long before the chick that was coming 5th passed by in the other direction. I was pretty worried because she still looked pretty strong. I hit the Mueller trail and made reasonable progress back towards Turramurra. It all feel apart completely on the final big climb. I was stumbling all over the place on the way up the climb and my vision was hazy and spinning. I thought I had been doing well with nutrition but decided to have two gels at once to see if that would do anything to help. I finally got to the top of the climb and got moving again. I hit the final descent on the Warrimoo trail back down to the river. My quads were trashed at this point so I was moving pretty gingerly. About halfway down the chick that was in 5th came flying by like I was standing still. It was pretty impressive to watch!

I had my second last gel at the bottom with 4km to go and 30 minutes left to make my target time of 4:30. It was gunna be tight. It was a great mental boost passing by the walkers that were doing the shorter distances as they all gave me words of encouragement. I was really moving well on the flat sections but had to walk anything with an incline. I dropped my last gel with roughly 2km to go. I managed to lift the pace a little and burst out onto the Bobbin Head Marina with 5 minutes remaining and 500m left to run. I knew I was going to make it but have it everything over the bridge and across the grass to finish with a time if 4 hours, 27 minutes and 36 seconds.

Absolutely shattered at the finish!

I am really stoked to have gone under 4:30. The course was much tougher than last years with heaps more climbing and some seriously technical sections. There is no way I possibly could have ran any faster. Bagging 5th spot too was pretty awesome! Paul finished in 3rd spot 4 minutes before me and was pretty stoked to make the podium. B also finished her first ever trail running event in the 12km in a tick over 2 hours which is pretty bloody good considering the almost the entire course was technical singletrack!!!

Thanks for a cracking day out guys. Looking forward to the next one!!!

Strava GPS Data.

Full Photo Gallery.

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