* Please note that as far as I know, all the photos in this blog post were taken by Kimberly White. She did a great job didn’t she!
I’d had this run on my mind for some time. Not sure why, must have been the name. Basically it’s an out and back along a fire trail up Mt Molloy from Jullatten pub, about 90km from Cairns, and just up the road from the attractively named Abbatoir Swamp Environmental Park.
I’m guessing that the driving made the field a bit small- 9 males and 4 females rocked up for the 3rd running of this event. I’m amazed and extremely grateful that the organisers put so much effort into running such a small event- did I mention that I love small events? There were km markers every km on the way up and down, friendly faces at the aid stations, and did I mention the food? Gourmet delights everywhere, I’m just sad I didn’t have more eating time at this race.
After the race briefing in the first photons of sunlight, we assembled at the start line just outside the Jullatten Highlander Tavern (great spot) and the RD quietly counted down the last 10 seconds, and we were off. We settled into a nice easy pace about 5:44/km and I had a good look at the people in front. The entire race of only 13 entrants made it easy to count the people in front- 6 guys and one female. This meant for a top 5 (male) finish I only had to outlast one of the guys in front. That’s good, because my only talent is outlasting people.
The first 10km is fairly harsh uphill, it’s possible to run some of it, but the primary goal is not to blow up too much, there’s still a long way to go. I managed to catch up to the leading woman Sarah Warren and we had a short chat. She wasn’t feeling very confident, but I could tell she was a classy runner, very consistent and pacing herself nicely. I let her go, and a couple of km later noticed that I was being hunted down by another runner behind. I’d noticed a group of 3 blokes in front and one of them was starting to weaken. I felt I had a good chance at making that one extra place I needed so I stopped a bit and waited for the guy behind to catch up. No point in suffering alone!
This turned out to be a good move, as my new friend Paul Firth was an Army guy and very interesting to talk to. At about 16km Shawn caught up with us- he was part of a group in front, but had left the tail for a comfort stop and we’d passed him. He then turned around at the 18km mark for a 36km total. This meant that Paul and I had 5th place and would have to fight it out. We encouraged each other to keep moving and generally had a great time up to the 29km turn around point. My father in law (Andrew Campbell) was manning this aid station, so I had a quick chat but tried not to get too comfortable! I restocked my gel, had some Pepsi and dropped a few things I wouldn’t need. I’d previously given Paul the pep talk ‘don’t let me get in front of you on the way down as I won’t give up that 5th place easily’. Me and my big mouth- he put his headphones on and blasted down the hill, making up nearly 20 minutes in the last 29km. Great performance, and he totally deserved that 5th place!
My legs had been hurting from the training load from very early on, and it was difficult to take advantage of the lovely downhills. There was a creek crossing at the 22/36km mark and I stopped there to fill up my water- what a huge pleasure it is to be able to drink the water! I can only hope that one day we get cleaner water in Sydney for our runs. On the way down the sun became an issue- we’d gone up in mostly shade with only a few patches of sun, but now it was hot and unrelenting. My headphones that had been around my neck were only playing on one channel as one bud was so full of sweat. Yum.
I spent the last few hours counting down the k’s and trying to concentrate on keeping good form and turning the legs over as fast as possible without blowing up my heart rate. It became clear that a 6:30 finish was not going to happen (the loose calculation was 3:30 up the hill, 3:00 down the hill) so I relaxed and tried to make progress.
With 3km to go I started to fall apart, my body not wanting to listen to my brains ‘come on, surely you can run 3000m’ but I held on and finished in 6:47. Pretty much exactly in between my predictions of 6:30-7:00. Placed 7th overall, 6th male and 2nd in my ‘masters’ category. Dear race directors- I’m not sure being over 40 should put you in the masters category, you cheeky (young) bastards.
Our race entry fee included a beer which I gratefully accepted, then I ordered a chicken burger (I love races that finish at a pub) and sat around waiting for Sarah. It was getting hotter, and after her experience at last years Glenbrook Half, I was quite worried about her reaction to the conditions. When we spotted her I went out to run the last 50m with her- that was long enough for her to tell me ‘I never want to do this again’ over and over. I hope her result makes her have second thoughts- her time of 8:47 got her 3rd female and 1st in the masters category.
full results here but you’ll have to scroll down.
I want to congratulate all of the hard working organisers and volunteers, this was a small race (for us- there were 2 other distances run and finished while we were on the run) and impeccably managed. The food, the run and the people were all fantastic. Also thanks to MountainSports for providing a couple of entries to the Glow Worm tunnel Marathon– I didn’t score one but you may see me there anyway.