Rapid Ascent Trail Running Series Race 1
After weaving along almost a kilometre of the single track which sits between the Main Yarra Trail and the river; trying to look down to avoid the tree roots and random rocks, up to avoid the low branches of trees and the occasional bush, and forward to make sure I don’t run into the person in front of me, I pop out onto a wide piece of track as the course crosses the Porter Creek Rapids. Another chance to stretch my legs and for the three hundred or so metres of wide/sealed trail, my pace dips into the high 4min/K pace before I ease off again to tackle the next bit of rooted trail.
In its seventh year and with a new sponsor and new race locations, it is time again to tackle Rapid Ascent’s “Trail Running Series”, this year I signed up for four out of the five races and I am running the middle distance on all the races.
Race one of the series took place in Westerfolds Park, a nice piece of State park only 10Ks, as the duck swims, from Warrandyte and a park that was host to a trail run I did last spring — so it is safe to say I am very familiar with Westerfolds and it was great to run it as part of this trail series.
For the third or fourth time, I heard the laboured wheezing of another runner, the girl in red, I remember passing her on our first ascent from Fitzsimons Lane, she sounded like she’d tackled the hill a little too quickly, and some 2K later she had passed me, still wheezing; in the midst of orgasm or about to cough up her lungs I am not sure but now two-thirds into the race she passes me again, wheezing girl, she must be really pushing hard.
Pacing is always tough but my performance on recent trail runs and my experience of the park put me in a comfortable position where I knew I could maintain a pace good enough to get around in the ball-park of one hour, so while wheezing girl focused on pushing for a PB, I was simply focused on being able to breath knowing that if I could maintain a steady breath I would have the energy to kick when I needed to — that and the rather disgusting admission I recently recovered from a cold and not wanting to attempt and fail at a snot rocket I was using what remains of my slowly decomposing tissues to keep my nose clear.
For the eighth kilometre a new challenge; some stairs. Nothing quite saps the strength like stairs but with (what I assumed) was still three kilometres to go and the course now re-entering the park, I was struggling to work out where we would go to make the last section of course stretch out the distance.
For the last kilometre, all three distances merged together. Of course, this usually happens but I am usually running the longer distance and by this point in my run there are usually only a handful of runners from the other two distances left.
However, running the middle distance I am right in the mix, swapping race positions with short, medium and long distance runners as we tackled the final undulation.
Quite unexpectedly I find myself on the home straight, the finish is in sight and my watch is just ticking towards 10Ks, there should still be a good half a kiliometre of trail to run, maybe there is a cheeky diversion coming up; 100 metres to go – nope!
I cross the line after running 10.06K in a smidge over 56 minutes, I am bang on pace for where I wanted to be — fantastic.
The event felt bigger this year than in previous, this is not a criticism more testament to the joy of this running series and the popularity of trail running in Australia.
Race two takes place in Smiths Gully, at the Rob Roy Hillclimb race track so I will be spending the majority of my runs between now and July 9 running the hills of North Warrandyte.