Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Macedon 50km 2015 (TrailsPlus)

Event Date31st May 2015
LocationMt Macedon, Victoria, Australia
Relative DifficultyEasy Moderate Hard Extreme
StyleSupported, trail ultra-marathon
TerrainSoft dirt/muddy forest single trail, gravel/clay fire track.
Aid StationsApprox. every 5km. Well stocked (Gels, cake, drinks, sweets).
My Position5th of 47
My Time5h44m
Winning Time5h17m
Drop Out Rate25%
Weather on the dayCool/cold. 5-10C, misty, heavy rain towards the end.
Course (Strava)Macedon 50km 2015
Event WebsiteTrailsPlus - Macedon
Enjoyment Rating1 2 3 4 5
Lessons LearntPacing myself is a good strategy for running a quick time.
This was a really well organised event. Registration on the day on quick and easy, the trails were clearly marked, and there were plenty of aid stations.

Aid stations were about 5km apart. All were very well stocked with the usual things you'd expect; a variety of drinks, sweets, fruit, cake, gels, etc. Great if you like running with minimal kit.

You can easily get around this course without needing to carry any food, and arguably without needing to carry any water.

The weather was cold and windy, which I was told is pretty common for Mt Macedon at this time of year. It was 3 degrees, a little windy and misty when I got to the start line at 6:30am.

It warmed up slightly during the morning, but I don't think it reached more than 10 degrees. I ran the whole race in shorts and a thermal running top.

The rain kept away for the first five hours of the run, and then it came down quite heavy during the last 30 minutes.

The course contains a lot of nice single track, connected by dirt fire roads. It's fairly undulating, with a couple of big climbs. Some really fun trails!

I enjoyed running this race - all in all, a great event!

Monday, 6 July 2015

Wilsons Prom 100km 2015 (Running Wild)

Event Date2nd May 2015
LocationTidal River (Wilsons Promontory), Victoria, Australia
Relative DifficultyEasy Moderate Hard Extreme
StyleCompletely self-sufficient, trail ultra-marathon
TerrainSoft dirt single trail, sandy beaches, gravel fire track and a few kilometres of bitumen.
Aid StationsNone. But you can access your car at the 80km mark.
My Position10th of 22
My Time16h05m
Winning Time11h08m
Drop Out Rate-
Weather on the dayWarm, overcast and sometimes sunny. Stormy during the evening.
Course (Strava)Wilsons Prom 100km 2015
Event WebsiteRunning Wild - Wilsons Prom
Enjoyment Rating1 2 3 4 5
Lessons LearntEven without enough training, a day out running can never be a bad thing!
I almost pulled out of this race due to lack of training. In the end I thought, why not just run it anyway? At the very worst, it will be a good day out running. And that's never a bad thing!

I'm so glad I did run it too. There was a good deal of winding technical trails, that weaved through the hills. The scenery was spectacular and overall it was great to explore Wilsons Prom.

I'd heard the weather there can be unpredictable and frequently windy. I must have lucked in, because it was a perfect day for running. Hardly any wind, slightly overcast and generally warm and sunny.

Though I did get into trouble by missing an opportunity to fill up water at creek, and subsequently ran out. It meant running about 20km with barely anything to drink, during the middle day sun.

By the time I got to some water, I was somewhat de-hydrated, and it took a couple of kilometres of walking before I recovered.

Talking about water, this event follows a "self-sustained" theme. I am happy with that, because I like the idea of wild running, but it's not for everyone. The event organisers did point out all of the places where you can get water. These were mostly creeks, the odd rain water tank and one tap (at the light house, about 50km in).

So be prepared. Think through how much water you'll need to get between each water source.

Which brings us onto food. There are no food checkpoints. You must be fully self sustained as far as food goes. At least up to the 80km mark, where the course doubles back past the start line. The race rules permit you to stop and get additional food (or water) from your car/campsite if required.

I must admit, this is the most unprepared I've ever been for a race. I really hadn't looked at the terrain, the map or the elevation profile. So bad me. But it was only a 100km, and it's pretty easy to run out of Wilsons Prom no matter where you are. At most it's probably only a 20km run from the furthest points.

There is a deceptive amount of elevation gain. Just over 4000m. Most of the hills are runnable though, with the exception of one or two, depending on how fit you are. I wasn't feeling all that fit, so a walked a few of them, especially towards the end ;-)

During the final 20km of the race a big storm rolled in, and the skys went black. It was pretty awesome, and when lightning started to strike, it gave me a jolt of motivation to get a hurry on!

The view from the top of the final ascent was spectacular. You could see the lights of Tidal Bay peering out of the scrub into the black night sky. I was up there by myself, and it was one of those moments that reminded me why I do these sorts of adventures.

Overall, it was a great day out. The event was very well organised, albeit, requiring you to be fully self sufficient.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Alpine Challenge 100km 2014 (Running Wild)

Event Date29th November 2014
LocationMt Bogong (Falls Creek), Victoria, Australia
Relative DifficultyEasy Moderate Hard Extreme
StyleMostly self-sufficient, trail ultra-marathon
TerrainSingle trail and fire track. Some very steep ascents and descents.
Aid StationsReasonably regular (~ every 15km), though fairly basic.
My Position10th of 25
My Time20h29m
Winning Time14h03m
Drop Out Rate40%
Weather on the dayWarm / hot, sunny day. Clear warm night.
Course (Strava)Not Available
Event WebsiteRunning Wild - Alpine Challenge
Enjoyment Rating1 2 3 4 5
Lessons LearntIf you're going to be out running all day, wear a comfortable pair of shoes!
This was an awesome run, with some very rewarding views. You get to run places most people will never see, including summiting Victoria's highest peak, Mt Bogong. The two crossings of Big River were fun. A great place to cool down on a hot day!

Be prepared to be fairly self sufficient; there's not a lot of food at the aid stations, and it's hard for your support crew to get to most of them. So take enough food with you to get through the first 50km (there is an aid station at the start/end of the Mt Bogong loop, where you can get some food).

You can pick up water from some of the river crossings and natural springs along the way, so that isn't as much of a problem.

The event was well organised, with an appropriate level of safety controls. The course isn't marked though, so you need to be able to read a map, or have a GPS.

I think it would be worth getting up and doing some recon runs if you're serious about putting in a fast time, or struggle reading maps!

Some of the course is fairly exposed. In 2014 it was warm to hot all day, which was fine. But if the weather was bad, like in some of the previous years, be prepared. I reckon you could get pretty cold in some sections, especially the during the last 20km, when it starts to get dark, and you start to get tired.

All in all, an awesome run (race), well worth doing. I'm coming back to do the 100 mile course this year.