It’s been a while – haven’t done any racing since Alpine Challenge miler at the end of November! There has been plenty of time for long training runs and a sneaky rogaine or two. I also got picked in the Aussie team to go to the IAU World Trail Champs in Annecy at the end of May (85km with 5500m vert), so looking at a solid buildup towards that. Race season has kicked off again with the CBR100 Challenge. The calendar gets busy from here on, with Buller 45km next weekend, then Buffalo 75km (crazily competitive field there) two weeks later.
I have been involved with the CBR100 crew as an ambassador, helping out with some promo for the event. This was a good chance to be involved in my first trail running video, thanks Ellie and Kim! The event was aimed at an Oxfam Trailwalker style crowd – lots of first timers looking to walk either 25, 50 or 100km, as a solo or in a team of three (who stay together for the whole race, not a relay). The course shows off the northern end of the 145km Centenary Trail – a recently developed loop around and through the Canberra region on a combination of single track, fire trail and bike paths. We are pretty lucky to have these trails on our doorstep in the bush capital!
The challenge (not a race!) started at 6am for the 100km solo’s, then further waves took off at 10 minute intervals until all the 25/50/100 km teams and solo’s had hit the trails. In wave 3 at 6:20am, we sneakily pushed our way to the front in preparation for the start. When the teams were released, we ran off into the darkness to discover that every other team was walking from their first step – so we got lonely very quickly, which was kinda fun!
We soon began to overtake some of the solo 50km and 100km walkers, who provided friendly banter as we hiked up Mt Ainslie. It was exciting for my team to see a few of our respective coworkers having a crack at their first and/or longest trail runs ever.
Team IB Tragics came together after our bonding experience as Inward Bound participants (and frenemies) at Australian National University. It’s that crazy inter-college competition where they blindfold us and put us on buses in the middle of the night, then run 30-100km back to the finish line. Bronti, Mel and I have finally moved on after several awesome experiences in that race.
Mel is studying a PhD in Chem and splits her time commitments between Melbourne/Adelaide/Canberra/Sydney, so I’m not really sure where she found the time to train but apparently it worked out pretty well. She originally hails from an elite netball background – strong ankles, good for trails! I’ve raced heaps with Mel in the past, and she was even willing to pace for me at the Alpine Challenge last November! She’s incredibly motivated – can be feeling down in the dumps one minute, but if she spots somebody that she wants to beat, it’s time to get cracking!
Bronti is working as a lawyer in Canberra and it’s pretty safe to say she’s got a fierce running and training addiction. She smashed out a swift 12:xx as a junior female at TNF100 a few years ago. It doesn’t matter how many niggles or inconveniences you throw at Bronti, she will just keep smashing out the km’s for the sake of the team. Bronti organised our only full-team training session before the challenge – a back to back session of RPM (cycling) and Tactical Fitness (bodyweight circuit) at ANU gym about 2 months ago when we all happened to be in Canberra at the same time.
I’m used to my efficient and well drilled support crew stops at other races thanks to Mum/Sarah/Jack in the past:
- run into the checkpoint
- throw my empty bottles at them/on the ground
- pick up some freshly mixed feed bottles, maybe slap on some sunscreen
- run out
However, I was in for a new experience this weekend as we brought in the support crew extravaganza team of Pamela and Brian Ness (Bronti’s parents) and their friend Angus. We were treated to a luxurious offering of baked goods, fresh salads and special treats at every checkpoint. To be honest it was pretty hard to leave. I always had good intentions of keeping my stomach light and fresh but managed to gorge myself on food, every time! We accounted for digestion time by walking and gossiping for 10mins out of each checkpoint! Brian and Angus were keen for some time on their mountain bikes, so they became drug couriers for us on the last few legs – delivering emergency supplies of electrolyte tablets and blister treatment.
The course was relatively flat (2000m D+/- over 100km) with some long stretches of flat running. Inspired by stories from some of our 24hr track racing friends, we decided it was ok to break this up with some walking spells. We used the strategy of running for 4-5mins, then walking for 30-60secs. This made running between 50-75km on the flat section seem much more achievable, and gave us bite sized chunks – ‘all we have to do is run for 4 minutes, easy peezy!’ (sometimes it felt quite challenging though).
We ended up finishing just before 8pm in about 13.5 hrs. This fulfilled our major goal of not having to pull our head torches (or keyring emergency lights) from the bottom of our packs at any point throughout the day. It was a heap of fun and much easier to pass the time when you have teammates to gossip and banter with all day.
Shoutouts to some friends for their massive efforts:
- Paul Cuthbert winning the solo 100km in 9:36… rapido! Ben Grimshaw was up there too
- George Bunt winning the solo 50km, followed by Damien Stewart
- Elle Newby + Josh Lickiss, smashing out 55km in a day for the first time
- my dentist’s partner and new Irish friend, Johnny, who knocked out the 100km solo in about 13 hours, having never run more than 40km before!
Huge thanks to Pam, Brian and Angus for being our super support crew and drug mules via bicycle – catering for all our requests, even the weird or last minute ones!
Congrats and thanks to Ellie, Kim and their hordes of supporters/volunteers. It’s a massive effort to coordinate an event like this, particularly for the first time. A few hiccups along the way with people knocking down course markers, but in the end, there were a tonne of tired and satisfied faces at the finish line.
Gear – La Sportiva Helios, Ultimate Direction Peter Bakwin 12L pack (v2), Garmin FR920XT, lots of Body Glide
Nutrition – luxurious picnics provided by Pam, plus a few assorted muesli bars and about 2L of ginger ale (de-carbonated the night before the race)