Lamington Eco Challenge 2015
What a weekend and what a race! About 9 weeks ago I decided to hydrate my dry spell of running by entering a race that consisted of two trail marathons over two days, the Lamington Eco Challenge. Up until the point of entering the race I had only been running between 5-10km on the road, nothing spectacular, so I knew that I was being a little ambitious about my first race in over a year!
Getting back into running
There were a few reasons why I hadn't completed any kind of running event in the last year, I became severely ill with tonsillitis a couple of times, I had a medical procedure that kept me out of running for a little bit but I had also gotten myself into a bit of funk that made me lose my motivation to chuck on my Hoka's and smash out the kilometers!
It wasn't until I met a young guy named Sam through a mutual friend who also happened to be into endurance sports, his sport was cycling but after talking a bit he expressed his interest in running marathons and ultras. I decided to look up some races and the Lamington Eco challenge sparked my interest, it was the exact kind of race that I love, trail, multi day and long distance! I let Sam know that I was doing it and he quickly signed up for the two half marathons!
8 Weeks of Training
Six weeks into training I was up around 30km road runs and 10km of harsh trail runs around Mt Coot-tha in Brisbane along side Sam. I decided to run in the Flinders Tour 51km Trail race shich proved to be extremely hard on my undertrained body. I suffered from sever cramps, quads that could not possibly get any more sore and a bit of dehydration from running out of water for a few km. I was worried about what would happen in two weeks time for the LEC and whether or not I would be able to make the second day.
The following two weeks after the Flinders tour had almost no training runs. I completed two 8km trail runs and that was it. I was hoping that the 51km race would have shocked my body enough for the up and coming race!
Neil had decided to come along with both me and Sam as our personal cheer sqad as he has done so for so many of my events in the past four years. We set off on the Friday and after a very long drive, had to set up camp in the dark, it was freezing!
We had dinner, checked in for the race at 7pm and decided to have an early night, or so we thought!
Throughout the entire night we had animals outside of our tent making loud sounds, crunching leaves and a bush rat that was so determined to get inside of the tent, he eventually did! The little critter crawled over my head and after a couple of swear words we were all up trying to get it back outside. The rest of night I had no sleep at all!
Eventually the alarm went off at 5:30am and was time to get ready for the race!
Race Day One
The race started at 8am, the half marathoners and 7.5km runners took off in a hurry and for about the first kilometer I ran with Sam before letting him take off. The first couple of km were pretty easy, mostly along road and some off road. We then turned onto some farm land past the first check point and down a very steep and uneven hill. Once at the bottom we could all only hike up the other side, running wasn't an option!
Finally getting up the other side we were back on a dirt road for quite a while, the declines would eventually get steeper and steeper which worried me a bit about my quads and how there were going to keep it up! I also knew I would have to run (or climb) back up all of that after the turn around!
About 16km into the race the dirt road ended and we came out onto a nice, flat road which went right up to the half way check point. There were two runners in front of me at this point, the leader, fellow Hoka OneOne athlete Andy Bowen who was so far in front and another runner who looked to be struggling just a little bit. I made sure not to get too excited and reminded myself that my only goal was to finish this weekend!
After the turn around and running back along the road I made it back to the dirt road and the declines had now turned into steep inclines! I would run at any opportunity I could but the majority was just hiking. I used this as an opportunity to properly hydrate and get some fuel into me however it may have been a little too late as my legs had started to cramp up a bit.
At the 30km check point I was feeling good aside from the cramping, I decided to take it easy for the rest of the race and not too push myself which seemed to work out great. I managed to pass the guy in 2nd place making it back to the farm land with the massive hills. Going back down was fine but going up the other side to the final check point had to be the toughest part of the entire race, it was brutal!
After the final check point we had to run through about 3km of rain forest which was a little bit of an obstacle course with fallen trees and branches everywhere and then the final one kilometer back to the start/finish line.
I finished in a time of 4 hours 26 minutes in 2nd place!
Race Day Two
The second nights sleep wasn't as bad as the first, the bush rat was trying hard to get back in again but eventually I got to sleep and managed about 6 hours which was good!
The second day started earlier at 7am which was good to beat the heat. My legs were feeling a lot better than what I thought they would.
I took the first few kilomteres slowly to see if my body was going to last at that pace, I realized that it would and after about 10km I was back at the same pace as the day before.
Soon enough the half way point came, I had only seen Andy Bowen in front of me and third place was quite far behind me so I was in a very comfortable position where I could go faster but didn't have to push too hard.
I made a very conscientious decision to properly fuel on this day and not to cramp up which seemed to work perfectly.
After the second to last check point I did feel my legs hurting a lot more then the first day but I knew I was going to finish comfortably and after getting across the farm and up the massive hill I made it to the final check point. I look across the valley and couldn't see anyone behind me. I stayed at the check point longer than I should have but the people there seemed interested in talking about some of the runs that I had completed and also got a group photo which was fun.
I was faster and stronger in the last 4 km of the race and finished in a time of 4:36 minutes, only 10 minutes slower than the first day. I did feel that I could have pushed myself harder on both days, especially the second day but was very happy overall.
Sam managed to take out the top spot for both days in the half marathon, he plans on coming back and completing the two full marathons next time!
I definitely plan on returning for next years event with a bit more training and will aim for under 4 hours for both days. This race has definitely reignited my love of long distance running and am already looking for my next adventure!