This was a good race, even though I only managed to get 2 hours sleep due to the 2am start time! Neil was once again my support and the race had 7 10.5km loops around the Glasshouse Mountain trails.
There were about 20-30 runners doing the 70km race (about 300 runners in total for all races). Our race started at 2am in nice temperatures with a perfect sky full of stars! I also got to really try out my Petzl Nao headlamp (properly) which was pretty damn cool, I suggest that any night runner should get one! Anyway, I started out strong with the group and making an early break from the rest. There was one runner who took off quite fast, too fast for my liking so I wasn't going to try and keep up with him and about after a kilometer after running through a fair bit of mud another runner caught up with me. We talked for a bit but I said that I would let him go ahead, he was running at a pace I knew was too fast for me to maintain. Eventually a runner named Chris caught up with me and we stuck together for almost the whole race.
There was a bit of variety throughout the trails, we encountered mud, very slippery clay, soft sandy trails, two big body's of water that reached just under the knees, a small (quite dormant) river that was just under waist deep and of course Wildhorse Mountain. Although it isn't much of a mountain as it doesn't take long to get up and over it is steep and does wear you out when you do reach the top, coming down is full of loose rocks and a couple of fallen trees but not too bad. After reaching the checkpoint at the start line we had to run back in the opposite direction from where we came from and keep doing that for the 7 laps!
During the second lap both Chris and I became a bit preoccupied and went off course, we decided to run back and then realized when we were coming up to a checkpoint we were coming from the wrong direction, once arriving a big group of the 70km runners were also arriving, this meant that we had lost a lot of ground and had in fact ran more than what we should have. During the crazy moment of realizing we were off track, Chris fell over and hit his head (just above his eye) on a rock, he looked at me asking how it was, I sort of just looked at him with blood trickling down his face and said, "yeah ... it's alright", he seemed to be glad that I said that but other runners didn't give him the same reaction when we would cross paths (he was fine by the way).
After checking in at the check point we really picked up the pace to get back our position, we did get it back quite quickly as we ended up passing the guy in second place. When approaching the end of the second lap the guy in first place was already coming back, I made sure to calculate how far in front he was and at that point he was 6 minutes in front of us.
We were wasting no time at the checkpoints, Neil was right on hand to swap my water, give me food and off we would go. Lap 3 went very smoothly and approaching the end of lap three I was able to calculate that 1st place was four minutes in front, we had gained 2 minutes on him, it was only about half an hour later when we actually passed him. I told Chris after finishing the 4th lap to really pace ourselves in which he agreed.
The rest of the race went very well, I was a bit tired at the beginning of the final lap but after chugging down some coke (Coca-Cola) and chocolate bars I was feeling a lot better. At the final checkpoint with about 4km to go Chris needed to fill up his bottle of water. I decided to make a break and push myself as hard as I could right till the end, feeling fatigued and running on the soft sand didn't help much, neither did splashing my way through the water but at every corner I would look back and wouldn't see anyone behind me.
The last kilometer was pretty good as the final lap meant being able to bypass Wildhorse mountain, there was one climb but nothing major and then a few hundred meters of flat straight trail to the finish!
It was a great feeling to come in first, six minutes in front of Chris and half an hour in front of the 3rd place runner. Winning is great but running these things for me is all about finishing. It takes a lot of determination and mental strength to get through an ultramarathon.
This was my second Glasshouse Mountains race and I still have three more to go for the year (including other races). Next one is the Cooks Tour 50 km race in May, looking forward to that one!