More than just a race

A mighty impressive effort from my friend Michelle! Read a little about her adventures running across the Sahara Desert…

One step at a time

Marathon des Sables was more than just a race. It was incredible. There is so much I could tell you about it, but here is an overview!

During a six hour coach ride from Ouarzazate airport in Morocco to the start point of the race we were presented with ‘the roadbook’. The coach avidly scanned the book, I think many to see how long the longest day in the history of the race would actually be (92km)!

Eventually we pulled off the road, into the darkness……with head torches on we made for the bivouac to find our home for the week. Tent 115 ‘Yorkshire tent’ turned out to be a very happy place. The eight of us shared highs and lows and made fantastic memories – some painful – together.

So, these are the distances which we tackled and a few of the high and low points of each day.
Stage…

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NYE Recap – ‘Rock Around The Clock’ Trail Run

Best NYE ever!

It is now early on New Year’s Day. I’ve had about 90 mins sleep…just not able to wind down after an amazing night time trail run (a first for me) at the inaugural TrailsPlus ‘Rock Around The Clock’ event in the You Yangs.

There were a range of events on offer; the first starting at 7pm; the last finishing shortly after 5am. These included:

  • 10km
  • Half Marathon
  • Full Marathon A – starting at 7pm
  • Full Marathon B – starting at midnight (…and yes, there were a couple of competitors that entered both marathon events)
  • 3hr Enduro, Solo or Team Relay – starting at 9pm
  • 6hr Enduro, Solo or Team Relay – starting at 11pm

I was entered in the 3hr Enduro Solo event. Whilst the 6hr event was enticing, the reality is I am still getting over a nasty ankle injury sustained in October and have only been running pain free for the past two weeks. The 3hrs (plus, by the time you finish your final lap) was already going to be the longest outing I have had since the Macedon 50km in May.

Highlights:

  • Finishing 3rd in my category.
  • Achieved my goal of completing 5 laps of the hilly 5km course. The cut-off time to start a final lap was 2hr:45min. I made this with 8 mins up my sleeve.
  • Had a close encounter with a koala on lap 3. Hearing a noise to my left on the trail I turned my head torch to discover a koala crawling about 1 metre away from me, heading towards the nearest tree. I tried snapping a quick picture, but unfortunately my smartphone is not well equipped for night time photography.
  • Managed to stay upright for the duration! The middle third of the course includes a long, steep descent. Gradients of -15%+, on loose surfaces, at night, combined with my propensity for butchering ankles, make this no small achievement!!

I was pretty knackered at the end of the run…and quite rightly to. After all, I’d been running since last year!

All up a fantastic way to finish off a year of running trails.

NYE3

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Boxing Day Trail Run – Brisbane Ranges

In the spirit of running off Xmas dinner I decided to explore some new trails today.

The Brisbane Ranges National Park, approximately 75km west of Melbourne, was the venue chosen. Hitting the trails just after 07:30, my route took in:

  • Anakie Gorge
  • Lower Stony Creek Reservoir (built in the 1870s)
  • sections of the Burchell Trail
  • the Ted Errey Nature Circuit

Some sections were quite slow going, with the loose rocky surfaces and a number of steep gradients making a potential ankle killing combination.

It was an absolutely gorgeous morning, with plenty of time to take some pics along the way. Some of my faves:

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Next stop: NYE Rock around the Clock, night-time trail run in the You Yangs.

Chile or….Bust!

Running In The Desert

This is the week that Thomas and I (LongBuddyRun) were to be tackling the Atacama Crossing in Chile.

Instead, we remain in Melbourne….and I am housebound, foot elevated, struggling to walk.

What happened?

In a word…injuries. Collectively:

  • 1 x PCL strain
  • 1 x viral tonsillitis
  • 1 x hip/back strain – limited to 20 minutes walking at a time for several weeks
  • 1 x severe ankle sprain

We recently (and reluctantly) made the decision to postpone our 4deserts adventure. This was done at some expense (the entry fee is non-refundable), but we didn’t want to head over there to merely survive the event. We want the experience to be positive…not just hard.

The Atacama Desert, Chile
The Atacama Desert, Chile

I am still formulating a plan for another adventure before Xmas, ankle permitting. If things fall into place I will share the details here.

WHAT IS SKYRUNNING? ask Emelie Forsberg

What an amazing woman…wish I could run like her.

iancorless.com - Photography, Writing, Talk Ultra Podcast

©CNN ©CNN

Emelie Forsberg talks with CNN and explains what Skyrunning is to her….

VIDEO LINK HERE

also CNN an article, “SKYRUNNING’s QUEEN WITH A SWEET TOOTH”

HERE

©CNN ©CNN

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Winter Trail Running At Mt Macedon

I continue to prepare with Thomas to tackle the Atacama Crossing in Chile this October.

Here are a couple of Vine clips from this morning’s trail run at Mt Macedon. It was -3 degrees C there a couple of days ago. Not quite so cold this morning, but there was plenty of debris on the trails.

LBR

LongBuddyRun.org

Today is National Buddy Day. A day to ‘band together’ to help reduce bullying in Australian Primary Schools.

Thomas Jones and I are ‘buddying up’ to complete a series of ultra marathons in the world’s most spectacular deserts to help raise awareness of this cause. We have committed to completing all of the 4Deserts ultra marathons over the next 3 years. These self-supported events are held in some of the world’s greatest deserts (Atacama, Gobi, Sahara, Antarctica), with competitors covering 250km over 6 stages.

In the process we will be working with the Alannah and Madeline Foundation to promote the amazing work the foundation does to keep children safe from violence. As part of our journey we will be visiting schools to talk to students and teach them about resilience and how to be a better buddy.

Our adventure starts with the 10th anniversary Atacama Crossing in Chile this October. For more details please visit:

https://www.amf.org.au

http://www.betterbuddies.org.au

http://www.longbuddyrun.org

LBR

Epicness Lives Here…..But So Does Stupid

Epicness, thy name is Macedon.

The moment had arrived. My first ultra-marathon. I felt like I had been carbo-loading for this day my entire life.

As Thomas and I set off with a field of approx 40 runners at 07:30 we had a plan to tackle the 50km course. When I arrived at the finish line (minus Thomas) some 9 hours later, almost nothing had gone according to plan. Plus, those things that did go to plan I wish hadn’t. It was NOT a good plan.

Still, I am now an ultra-marathoner.

I can honestly say that I enjoyed every moment of it…..except the last 5 hours.

What Went Wrong?

Our max distance covered in training prior to the event was 30km – 35km. It was important to move efficiently and conserve energy if we were to achieve our goal of arriving at the finish in reasonable condition (i.e. not empty). In October we will need to cover 250km in 6 days, carrying 10kg – 15kg in our packs. With that as the goal, we wanted to finish the 50km and (almost) feel like we could do it again the next day. This was not achieved.

Trouble Strikes

Thomas fell on a rocky descent at 17km and wrenched his knee. We strapped it up and pressed on through the 19km aid station before he decided he wouldn’t be able to finish. We then went our separate ways. Thomas had to walk to about the 26km mark before getting a lift back to the start/finish line. A scan of the knee is pending…hopefully nothing long-term. (Only 146 days until the Atacama Crossing!)

A Bad Sign

At around the 25km mark I started experiencing cramps in my thighs. This was unexpected. We had routinely been completing trail runs of 5hrs duration, at a faster pace, without the faintest hint of a cramp. My fluid and energy intake was consistent with training. The course was familiar. Conditions were perfect. What was different?

Well…in order to conserve a little energy, we had decided to walk a number of the ascents. These are climbs that we would normally run up in training, just to get an increased workload into the body. You don’t actually gain that much time over walking and it is less efficient when considering the additional energy expended. This seemed like a smart, conservative approach, in-keeping with our overall goal of finishing less than totally spent.

WRONG! This was a really dumb move. In my case I’ve spent much of the past 2 years training my body to be calf-dominant when running (as opposed to relying on the quads). The calves are stronger, more durable and recover more quickly…better for covering long distances. Striding up the climbs engages the leg muscles very differently. Specifically, much more work needs to be done by the quads. Oooooops, hadn’t trained for that.

By 35km my quads were totally bombed, with the hardest part of the course still to come. I managed to struggle on to the finish, but miles outside my target time of 7hr 30min. On a positive note though, my calves felt as fresh as daisies.

It just goes to show that you’re never too old to make a rookie mistake.

A massive shout out and thank you to Brett from TrailsPlus and the team of volunteers that helped stage the event. Especially those hardy souls manning the remote aid stations (40km, 45km, 48km). They had to wait a loooooooong time for the likes of me to arrive.

Key GPS Data

Distance: 50.5km

Ascent: 2,429m (most in the back 20km)

Descent: 2,464m

Calories burned: 5,966

Recovery Time: 120 hours!

In case you’re wondering how to go about trying to replace 6,000-odd calories, my advice is – “Don’t think. EAT!”

Photos

Registration @ 06:30:

Registration 06:30

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No. It’s the world’s tallest smurf:

World's Tallest Smurf

TJ doing his thing pre-race:

TJ

There’s a trail there somewhere (just before Thomas had a fall):

There's A Trail There Somewhere

Runners just ahead going up Zig Zag Track:

Runners Ahead

The Memorial Cross @ 31km:

Memorial Cross

Last aid station @ 48km:

Last Aid Station

Finish!:

Finish

Mount Macedon – 50km Preparation

Camel's Hump, Mount Macedon VIC

Next weekend (Sunday 11th) my buddy Thomas and I are entered in the Mt Macedon 50km trail run organised by TrailsPlus: http://www.trailsplus.com.au/macedon/ . For both of us this will be our first official ultra-marathon.

With that in mind I headed up to Macedon this morning for one last recce of the course. I was intending to explore the bottom 20km on the southern side of the mountain, as this is the section of the course that I am least familiar with. It also represents the final 20km of the race (30km – 50km). The last 2.5km sees an elevation gain of approximately 500m. Nice! That’s bound to be a fun finish next weekend.

So, after 3+ hrs of exploring some new trails, with plenty of missed turns (the course is not yet marked) and a few kms of backtracking, what did I find?

A packed car park:

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A downhill trail I could barely see:

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What goes down, must go up:

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Steps under the railway line:

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Wrong way. Go back:

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Another tunnel as I turn and head back towards the summit:

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With weather conditions being what they were (cold, wet) there was hardly anybody on the trails…so plenty of alone time in which to explore.

It will be a much different scene next weekend, with competitors tackling 10km, 30km and 50km events. I’m looking forward to seeing how the body holds up.

I’ll leave you with a scary thought:

In 5 months time we’re going to need to average 40+km a day.

For 6 days. In the desert. At altitude.

Cool.