Race Report: 2018 Trail Running Series Race 1 (Long Course)
The plan had been to double up the run with a cycle there and back.
Production week for the Warrandyte Diary is always tough on my running and I had sacrificed a long run on the Saturday so that I could get some sleep.
Around 1am on Sunday morning it hit, a magical weather front brining to Melbourne a 1 in 100 year storm event, again, again, again.
I think they may need to stop referring to these weather events as 1 in 100 years as we seem to be getting one every six months.
Suffice to say, although I was well prepared to don my wet weather gear and cycle the 10 kilometres to Westerfolds, a sleepy offer to drive me to the event and pick me up after was hard to resist.
In the 20 minutes between registration and gun-time the rain petered out then stopped and for one brief moment it looked like the run would be muddy but dry.
But, naturally, in great Melburnian style this was merely a ruse by the weather gods to lull us into a false sense of muddiness.
The plan was to run this one hard, as hard as I dared and knowledge of which bits of mud and clay tend to be slippery in the wet and those which are not, as well as the general condition of the trails, gave me the confidence to fly from the very beginning — covering the first three kilometres at a sub 5min/K pace before settling in to something around the 5:20 mark for the more trickier sections.
Of course, by now the rain was back.
It had restarted just as I cleared the Fitzsimons Lane underpass and just kept on pounding away at us for the duration of the event.
I remembered the trail section around the edge of Westerfolds being tricky and congested from the previous year but knowing the small creek that had developed in the middle of the single track contained nothing too triphazardie, I was able to splash through the centre while others chose to pick their way along the bushy edge of the path.
I love a good puddle and I was soon getting just as wet from the water coming up from my feet as I was from the rain coming down from the sky.
Having only run the medium course the previous year, the back section — for long course runners only — was something I was looking forward to.
Hats off to the Race Director for choosing this course.
We picked our way along tracks which had more curves than the Yarra and the tight switchbacks combined with the mud and the rain made me feel more like a Rally driver than a Supercar driver as I zoomed along the trail using my arms to shift my weight, teetering on the fine line between taking a slippery corner at speed and skidding sideways into the nearest prickly bush.
Soon we were turned around and heading East, following the Yarra upstream, the undulating single track braced between a steep bank and the Yarra some 30 metres below was full of playfully dangerous moments when one wondered if there was enough trail on both course and shoe to avert a steep and sudden plunge into the river below.
The plan was to run 15K sub 1:15 and at 1:18 I stumbled through the Hit Factory 100 metre quagmire and crossed the line after running one of the wettest, muddiest and funnest trail runs I have tackled in a while.
With Larapinta and Surf Coast later this year, I do not know how many of the other Trail Running Series events I will make it to but I am so so glad I made the last minute decision to attend this one.