I completed my first trail race in Australia yesterday, The 10th Pinnacles Classic. I really enjoyed the challenge, finishing 3rd overall. The race is set in Brisbane Forest Park. Starting at Gold Creek, 18k of undulating fire track, 1000m of elevation, looping around a reservoir. It was organised by TRAQ, an experienced and friendly team of people. They created a great, laid back atmosphere from beginning to end putting a smile on the runner’s faces even when we faced some of the meanest hills Brisbane has to offer.
After a brief announcement and a few humorous anecdotes by the run director, the race started. We jumped over a small creek and tackled the first hill, which was a long slow climb for a 1k or so. I found myself in the lead, and after 2k, I was starting to think I might had pushed the early pace too hard, we reached the first downhill section and someone came along side me and pushed on slightly ahead. I kept him in my sights. The first 5k was the toughest part mentally, I really didn’t know what to expect in terms of terrain and had no idea if I could keep on pace. The big hills started to come, I ran 3 or 4 and then I reached a big one that was also difficult underfoot, I walked, everyone walked. This is a big difference from road running, it’s fine to walk, if it is a tough hill, it was actually quicker to walk. I realised that my muscles were really not prepared for walking up big hills and they were burning by the top. In trail races, walking up hill is a skill in itself and something worth practicing.
I pushed on and noticed that the guy in front of me was strong on the uphill, increasing his lead. I got into a nice rhythm, tackling one hill at a time and letting my legs loosen on the downhill, letting me recover. On a flattish section, just before halfway I decided to open the gel I had been carrying. I took my eye off the trail for a second and over I went. I rolled a couple of times, got up, brushed myself off, I had a few scrapes but nothing serious. Lucky! Anyone who has read my blog before will know I like to have a little tumble! I heard a cheerful voice from behind asking if I was ok. At the halfway point there was an aid station. I decided to stop and fill up my water bottle, making sure I was ok. The runner behind me had now caught up, and we left the aid station together.
The second half was easier than the first. There were less steep climbs and more downhill. I also had company, myself and Gold Coast based runner Simon Foster, ran side by side, working together. We got into a great rhythm, chatting when we could. In the final section, which was a long steep descent, we really put the hammer down, imagining we would see the guy in first at any time. I eased off slightly in the last 500m as we dropped down a grass bank near the finish, careful not to fall again. Simon belted down and picked up a lead, finishing strongly in 2nd, I was close behind, after sprinting along the last 200m on flat gravel track to finish 3rd. My finishing time was 1.30.22
After I had got my breath back and stretched, I stood in the early morning sun, cheering people to the finish. At 9.00am with a beer and hotdog in my hand, I chatted away to lots of other enthusiastic and friendly runners until it was time to catch my lift home. Well done to everyone who completed and supported the race, it was a fantastic event.
A final word, a big shout out to everyone I know running the London Marathon tomorrow. Good luck, I will be watching on T.V, not from the sidelines this year!