FFFTM- Fitzroy Falls Fire Trails Marathon

We turned up nice and early for this, my wife intending to do the 10km race and me fearfully contemplating the marathon. After my success of 2 weeks ago, I was underdone, with a poor diet, too much booze, mentally unfit and had a touch of man flu. I said to my wife ‘look at all the old buggers’ and there were lots- I didn’t realise they’d all come for the early start- this race has a fairly tough cutoff of 5:30, so if you didn’t think you could make that you could do the early start. That’s a term of affection by the way- I can only hope to have the kind of energy at that age that these people have.

At 8am we were off, and within the first km had waded through 2 creeks, eliminating my carefully applied leech repellent. But my mind was on something else- survival. I felt like rubbish, and within the first 4km I was reduced to walking. Should I have started with the coffin dodgers? All sorts of bad thoughts going around in my head, but I remembered the talk from Amelia Burton last week- ‘find 3 or 4 words to keep you going, and repeat them as a mantra until you either believe it, or you’re so bored you forget about the pain’ -That’s what she said, isn’t it? Anyway, my mind came up with ‘strong, talented and perseverance’ Where did the ‘talent’ come from? Or was it my subconscious having a laugh at me, subconsciously? I repeated those words to myself for a while, and bloody hell, it worked! Although I’ll have to admit it was probably seeing Michael McGrath and having a long chat with him that also got me out of the slump. He’s great to talk to, but I had to have a ‘bush stop’ and he carried on, looking strong.
Next thing some fairly serious looking campaigners came along and I introduced myself to Jeff and Martin. They were looking for a Six Foot Track qualifier and thus needed to beat 5 hours. I figured I could do a lot worse than stick with them for a while, and we had a good chat about the worlds problems. Just after an out and back section I started to feel better, and ran from about 22-28km by myself. At this point the lack of preparation started to show, and the marathon madness settled in a bit early, I normally get it between 32-35km. Although for some reason at the 30km mark I chose to push a ute out of the mud and up a fire trail by myself. I should have used the energy to run, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. At about 32km I had a lovely chat to Geoff and Jocie Evison, sorry for not remembering our talk after the Coastal Classic, I’m lucky I remembered my name after that one. I had to let them go at about 36km as they were pumping out the km’s and making it look easy, but not for me! From there on it was just a matter of counting down the km markers until we ran through those creek crossings again, then a sharp incredibly muddy uphill to the finish. My time of 4:50:00 was better than expected for a bad day, my only hope if conditions had been good was sub 4:30 and I definitely think that is achievable so I’m quite happy with the result. Also I knew I couldn’t completely trash myself as I needed to drive home, shower and go to Parramatta to DJ at a mate’s fight night. It wouldn’t look good to fall asleep drooling while guys were punching the stuffing out of each other. By the way Jeff and Martin finished in 4:57 and got their qualifier. I saw them later at McDonalds…….then about 60km from home I thought ‘what on earth is that disgusting smell?’ Yes readers, it was me. Luckily my wife was in a different car, she’d been on holidays and met me at the race. And to those who were surprised that I turned up to training on Monday night- I’d forgotten to stretch after the race and was quite sore. An easy 5km on Monday night actually made me feel a lot better!
Should you consider doing this run? It’s pretty flat for a bush run- the Sydney Marathon is about 200m of elevation, FFFTM is 800m, Six Foot Track is 1600m, and it’s a recognised marathon distance. So yes, it’s beautiful, challenging and small which are all things I like. And as you cross the finish line you get a token for a burger which I’m told are awesome- I couldn’t stay for mine unfortunately.
And compared to this lady I didn’t have such a difficult day, however she got something better than a T-shirt to take home-
This was a great example of the running talent in the club, with a couple of our guys in the top 10!

Position	 Name 		Time
6	Ian Gallagher             3:02:45
10 	Martin Pengilly           3:11:59
21      Nick Wienholt             3:30:04
34 	Keith Hong                3:42:12
42 	Kieron Blackmore          3:50:18
98	Michael McGrath           4:31:23
107	Jocie Evison              4:43:50
108	Geoff Evison              4:43:51
117	Adam Connor               4:50:00
118   Ray Goddard                 4:50:48
126   Jefferson Taylor            4:57:34
127   Martin Newcombe             4:57:34
132   Jane Trumper                5:09:04