Bulls Head Challenge Part 1

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Where do I start?

At the last moment, Bob decided to do the Vets Cycling race this morning, and we drove down to the Cotter together with the (road) bike in the car. He then used the track pump and rode up the McDonald Range as a warm-up for the race start at Uriarra Homestead.

Disappointingly, I had missed the start of the Brindabella Classic at 7:00am who were going to have a hard day at the office with the long uphill haul to the Bulls Head turnaround. I collected my number and looked around for people to carpool with up to the start, described as a 40 minute drive. I found the Perfect Running Buddy helping to put up a marquee, and managed to squeeze in to his pre-arranged lift. I searched in vain for Cool Runners, but found that I was too late.

There was a small collection of vehicles at the halfway changeover point, and I saw a smattering of blue and yellow caps and tops, including Bernie G. After a wander off to investigate the bushland on the other side of the yellow poles marking the road above the snowline, I met a lovely little snake slithering across my shoe. Waiting around at the start, Prue thought that we were having a covert secret meeting, talking in code (CJ, PRB, Friar) and all wearing elongated communication devices on our wrists. As the only non-CR and non-garmin wearing runner in the group she really didn’t know what she had stumbled upon!

A few minutes past 9:00am we were off, a mixed lot of all ages and perceived abilities, some wearing camelbacks and fuel belts, whilst others were travelling light. With a downhill start the PRB and I started towards the back and saw most of those in front start fast and increase their lead in front of us. With 27.7kms to go, I didn’t mind settling in near the back for the start. The trail wound its way through thick forest on a well groomed fire trail. A fairly steep climb followed a sharp descent within the first few kilometres, and then evened out to a level track until around 6 kilometres were run.

Before this though, the lead bicycle with it’s maliot-jeuned rider past us close to the start, and then was followed by a collection of many of the usual suspects for this kind of event; David Baldwin, Emma Murray, Trevor Jacobs, Jackie Fairweather and Cool Runner Phibes. I had predicted to Bob that morning a 2:30 finish if all went well, and these guys were nearly at the top in around 2 hours. Wow!!!

As the field had spread out, it was just possible to make out a few familiar figures on the track winding magically around the forest in hairpin bends; CJ, Hugh in his bright red and blue ‘map’ orienteering top, fellow Team Moore member Geoff B. I felt good on the downhills, but once again struggled on the inclines.

A warning at the start of a fallen tree had passed without notice – until it appeared a massive trunk with a litter of branches and twigs. Once under the trunk, the littered debris continued for another couple of metres. I imagined that this would have been very difficult after 20+ kilometres of climbing.

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