Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tour de Ridges

Sunday 15th December 2013

21km trail run with a total ascent of 630m (4 main climbs).

The course was mainly foot tracks and fire trails through grassland reserves, not very technical although there were a few rocky places which required care (especially the first two climbs).  A few kilometres went through pine forest, but the majority of the course was open grassland.

A 6:30 am start and an overcast sky meant a good racing temperature. I settled into a comfortable rhythm right from the start, taking time to soak in the views. The first two sharp climbs were over within the first half hour. Somewhat unusually for me, there was one lady who kept passing me on the uphills but whom I would catch on the downhills. Normally it is the other way around! Because I was wearing my CamelBak I passed several people at each drink station as I didn’t need to stop. The middle section of the course was gently undulating and followed a section of the Canberra Centenary Trail. 

The number of runners in sight gradually dwindled, and at the one hour mark we hit the 3rd steep climb up through the pine trees onto Isaacs Ridge.  I spotted a kangaroo bounding away, and apparently the first runners got to see an eagle sitting beside the track. The descent started off gently and gradually got steeper, and the last couple of hundred metres was a steep tarmac path, which wasn’t pleasant to pound down in lightweight trail shoes. Here we were overtaken by a couple of the front runners as this short section had to be done twice. We turned right into the last climb back up onto Isaacs Ridge, which didn’t seem too bad, and we were soon pounding back down the tarmac. This time we turned left and headed for home. This point also served as the turnaround for the 10km course so from here on we were constantly passing other runners. 

The remainder of the run was fairly flat and I ramped up the pace a bit. With 4km to go there was a short rocky downhill and I managed to catch my toe on a rock. I almost managed to regain control but I had too much momentum and took a tumble. However, I practically bounced back up and kept running! A few grazes on my leg but nothing serious, although by the time I finished it looked fairly impressive. After that I placed my feet a bit more carefully while still keeping the pace up. With 1km left I managed to drop one of the guys I had been with for the last hour (the other one had bonked a short time previously) and put everything I had left into the effort.  I finished in 1:57:45, 5th woman and 44th overall (out of 103). Enjoyed the run and was pretty happy with the result, as there were several world-class runners and orienteers.

Thanks to the race organiser, John Harding, for kindly sorting out a lift to the start line for me.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Black Mountain Run Up

The mountain running community here in Canberra is very active, with a wealth of world-class orienteers and runners. In addition to frequent larger events, the Australian Mountain Running Association holds monthly run-ups of Black Mountain and Mount Ainslie. 

The Black Mountain Run Up starts across the road from ANU where I am working and living so I decided to take an extended lunch break and join in. The course is 2.6kms, with the first kilometre relatively flat before getting in the real climb (200m). The track is quite steep with a couple of short, slightly easier ‘respite’ sections. It was pretty warm – 28 degrees – and while there was shade for most of the way, the last couple of hundred metres was in the baking sun!

I topped out in 16:56 and had held absolutely nothing back!

A gentle warm down around the summit loop track (~2km) before descending.

Thanks to event organiser John Harding for the photos

Monday, December 9, 2013

Black Mountain Challenge

Canberra, Sunday 8th December 2013

Black Mountain Challenge is a 5km fun run from Lake Burley-Griffin to the top of Black Mountain, with an ascent of 250m.

An easy 15 minute jog to the start line at the National Museum of Australia served as my warm up. Despite being just a ‘fun run’ there were still some good runners there – including the world stair running champion. My plan was to go as hard as possible while still enjoying it and I knew that a top 3 finish was possible. Of course, I don’t know the calibre of any of the runners here so all I could do was run my own race as best I could.

The first 1km was flat along the lake shore. I held a steady pace, not sprinting to keep up with anyone as I wanted to be fresh for the hill. A further 500m of gradual incline before we turned and headed up Black Mountain. Here I began to pull away from those around me and for the rest of the climb I gradually passed other runners. For the entire climb there were two women about 100m ahead of me, and with less than 1km to go I managed to overtake both of them. As I crested the top of the hill a photographer called out that I was 2nd woman. That put a smile on my face! From there it was only a 300m loop to the finish line.

I finished in 25:11, 2nd woman and 25th overall (out of 144).
Very happy with my run – the hardest part was the 1km of flat at the beginning! Felt strong throughout the whole climb.

Heather (2nd), Louise Sharp (1st), and Kym Chisholm (3rd)