I entered this race almost at the last minute. Not long coming off of the Lamington Eco Challenge I knew I had the endurance for it but I wasn't quite sure if my body would be completely recovered. For some reason I thought that the course was completely flat and although there was a lot of flat trails on this course there were some pretty steep inclines as well!
Between the Lamington Eco Challenege and this 50km event I had one full week of training, the rest was all recovery so I didn't have much time at all to prepare my body, I still felt pretty good though so I wasn't too worried.
On race day I woke up at 4am and set off just before 5am for my two hour drive down south only to realize that all of the roads around my house were closed off for the annual Bridge to Brisbane race. After a minute of freaking out I realized I could bypass it all with the toll tunnels that go through the city and towards NSW, luckily I had given myself plenty of time to get there so that paid off quite well!
I had about half an hour to spare once arriving so that gave me time to do some dynamic stretching, get all of my gear ready and to slowly make my way to the start line. There weren't that many doing the full 50km, the other distances were 5km, 11km, 20km, 30km and 40km. The 50km consisted of two and a half laps of the trail course.
Once we started just after 7:30 the previous race winner Michael Douglas took off in the lead, I stayed behind with one of the 30km guys and realized that his pace was a bit too fast for me so I backed off a bit and let him and the 30km guy get ahead of me.
We soon got to the first incline which eventually got too tough for me to run up so started hiking up it, once at the top runner Matt Marino caught up and we spoke for a little while until we got to a rough and technical decline where he seemed to excel and took off, it wasn't long before he disappeared off into the distance. At this point I was currently in 3rd place, I did see that Delina Rahmate who was also doing the 50km, was not far behind. It occurred to me that although there were only about a dozen runners doing the 50km, there was obviously some great talent in this race!
For the first lap which was 20km I maintained a good steady pace, I could tell that my body wasn't feeling that great since the very start so I focused entirely on the second lap and hoped that I would be able to get through in the last 10km.
Once getting to the bottom of the technical trail where Matt had taken off on the first lap, I completely rolled my ankle which caused quite a bit of pain and for a couple of second I had actually thought it had broken, the pain was like nothing else. Amazingly, after about 30 seconds the pain was almost gone and I was able to keep on running, I had slowed my pace down as I was so focused (and probably paranoid) on where I was stepping as to avoid another accident.
At about 30km my stomach had become really upset, I was dry retching and not feeling good at all. The sun had also come out in full force which didn't help too much either! I struggled through the next 10km, passing some of the 20km runners who had started later on and also a huge python that gave me a little fright, it was sunbathing just next to the trail!
Once I go to the 40km mark, I filled up my hydration pack for the last time and prepared for the last 10km which was the most brutal. The inclines near the start seemed to have intensified tenfold. I was so tempted to stop under some shade as I was totally spent but I knew I should just push along. Each kilometer seemed to take forever. Luckily I had been through all of that so many times before so I was mentally prepared for it and in the last 3km I pushed as hard as I could and made my way to the finish in 3rd place.
Only two minutes after I had finished Delina Rahmate came through in 4th place and as the 1st female. She would have definitely caught me if I didn't push myself in those last couple of kilometers. Matt Marino managed to pass the previous winner Michael Douglas and managed an amazing 20 minute gap between 1st and 2nd place. Matt's training grounds are in the Blue Mountains so it's no wonder he was able to dominate the race and finish it so convincingly.
Looking back at the race I can easily see where things went wrong. I obviously didn't have enough recovery and training time between races, my nutrition and hydration wasn't up to scratch and I underestimated the race trails. I wasn't disappointed though, especially coming in 3rd place!
I will be back down there in 5 weeks time for the 50km Freedom trail run and hopefully be in a stronger position than I was this time around!