not all trails are created equal....
Having a couple of 20km trail runs under my belt I was searching for my next challenge. Through www.runningcalendar.com.au I discovered the JabulaniChallenge. A 22km trail run at Bobbin Head north of Sydney. Just 2 more kms than I’d done on my previous trails. How hard could it be…
Bloody hard is the answer!! This was the race that almost broke me. The first 5km took over 45min. That’s just 10min away from my 10km road race pace!! Knowing that seriously messed with my head. The start of the course has a gruelling climb out of the valley, there was some serious bottle necking on the single track at the start. As my self-doubting self does, I had placed myself quite far back in the pack at the start line – something I’ve learned not to do now. If you usually place in the top 50% of participants, then start at about halfway in the line-up. Don’t feel bad politely working your way through to where you think you should start. Most trail runners would prefer you nudge past them at this point than when you’re hot on their heels on a single track huffing to get past. Once you’re on those single trails your stuck there until there’s a wide enough place to pass – remember it’s not a road race, there are no “rules” but there’s a trail running etiquette that you’re best to familiarise yourself with. Remember trail running tends to attract characters – whilst a road runner might give you a dirty look if you hustle them on the course, a trail runner will give you an earful about respect and etiquette!
For more on runner’s etiquette check out this hilarious and well put together overview - http://www.rockcreekrunner.com/2015/04/15/trail-running-etiquette/
So back to Jabulani… The first 5km as I said were basically hell. Slowed down significantly on the initial single track I then paced it out on the short flats as much as I could along the Gibberagong Track, rising from 11m to 152m in the first 5kms (undulation would make this a bigger overall gain). So by the end of the first 5km I was exhausted. In training I certainly hadn’t put in the hill work (I don't even know what they mean by hill work!) and was feeling the burn in my legs. I spent a good half hour of this time thinking about an escape plan – feigning injury at the next aid station, sneaking off into the bush and putting in a pull out call to the organisers. But alas I didn’t. I picked my feet up one after the other and continued on, grumpily but faking manic smiles for the selfies!!
With the hell of the hill behind me I started again to enjoy the run a bit more. There were some beautiful sections near the water and some great views of the National Park from the climb. But I was too buggered to really enjoy them.
It's not a run that I’ll chalk down as “fun”. I was too tired, I don't really know what to do with my nutrition yet relying only on a couple of Gu gels and not realising that the course was significantly harder than Manly Dam and hence more exertion would mean more calories needed to keep my energy up.
But every race and every run is an opportunity to learn and this student is eager to master the art of the trail (once I get out of bed!)...