Bulls Head Challenge Part II

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The cry of Black Cockatoos was easy to hear overhead. Glimpses of the Molonglo River winding its way through the valley came in and out of view, and the track maintained it’s excellent surface of fine even gravel throughout. A long descent began just before the 10km mark, and it was around here that I first felt that I had ‘warmed up’ and settled into an easy stride. Rounding a sweeping bend, just past ‘map top’ Hugh who was favouring his gammy knee on the downhill stretch, the PRB stopped to retie a shoe lace. I slowed right down to an almost stationary jog, but did not stop completely, as I always find that starting again is the hardest thing!

On this long sweeping stretch of downhill track winding through the tall trees untouched by the 2003 Bushfires, we also managed to catch up with Geoff who was running really well, belying his 61 years. We had passed through the first 10k in around 49 minutes and I felt really good. I had set the Polar to beep at each kilometre and also at 5 minute intervals, and it was very even, the two sounds occurring within seconds of each other. Eventually the thick forest thinned, and the downhill continued providing an opportunity to pick up the pace. Splits over the next few kilometres were significantly faster (gotta love downhill).

Lap Time Lap Time Altitude Avg Ascent Grade %
1. 0:04:34.5 0:04:34.5 1194 1242 0 -8.4
2. 0:08:28.5 0:03:54.0 1109 1144 0 -8.5
3. 0:14:28.5 0:06:00.0 1135 1121 28 2.6
4. 0:20:24.5 0:05:56.0 1160 1156 31 2.5
5. 0:25:14.5 0:04:50.0 1130 1136 11 -3.1
6. 0:29:22.5 0:04:08.0 1073 1107 0 -5.7
7. 0:34:09.5 0:04:47.0 1065 1069 5 -0.9
8. 0:40:04.5 0:05:55.0 1071 1066 15 0.6
9. 0:44:28.5 0:04:24.0 1020 1049 0 -5.1
10. 0:48:30.5 0:04:02.0 963 990 0 -5.7
11. 0:52:38.5 0:04:08.0 904 934 0 -5.9
12. 0:56:36.5 0:03:58.0 851 874 0 -5.3
13. 1:00:52.5 0:04:16.0 817 832 0 -3.4
14. 1:05:22.5 0:04:30.0 792 802 0 -2.6
15. 1:09:54.5 0:04:32.0 760 777 0 -3.2
16. 1:14:40.5 0:04:46.0 737 750 0 -2.3
17. 1:19:36.5 0:04:56.0 721 726 5 -1.6
18. 1:25:18.5 0:05:42.0 719 733 20 -0.2
19. 1:30:10.5 0:04:52.0 692 700 5 -2.7
20. 1:35:10.5 0:05:00.0 664 691 5 -2.9
21. 1:39:48.5 0:04:38.0 619 634 5 -4.5
22. 1:45:04.5 0:05:16.0 575 585 5 -4.5
23. 1:53:36.5 0:08:32.0 643 609 63 6.8
24. 2:05:16.5 0:21:54.0 604 619 123 1.1
25. 2:11:54.5 0:06:38.0 624 622 31 2.0
26. 2:16:18.5 0:04:24.0 540 576 0 -8.4
27. 2:20:40.5 0:04:22.0 482 501 0 -5.8
28. 2:20:49.3 0:00:08.8 484 484 0 12.7

After we had run about 14km – a mental half way point – Emma Murray came springing past, smiling, looking as though she was having a walk in the park, relaxed, comfortable, and gorgeous. Sigh . . . .

The forest had given way to some burnt out sections and was quite exposed in sections; I was pleased that I opted to wear little to begin with as it was quite warm. The PRB started to fade around the 16-18 kilometre mark, despite the gradient being generous and the conditions good. A section of gravel was quite rough at a bend, apparently set down to fix the road up from flooding recently. Grumphs (Trevor Jacobs) trotted past us at this point, disappearing quickly as he powered up the short climb while my speed dropped back to that slower than a walk once more. Jackie Fairweather then ran past, working harder than Emma although looking very strong and determined in fourth place overall.

Just after 18k, Peter insisted that I go ahead, and rather reluctantly agreed. The changeover point was just ahead, with a great selection of cars, supporters, and volunteers on folding chairs, and well stock drink station with water, Gatorade, jelly beans and fruit. Unable to eat, I grabbed a couple of cups of water and continued on through an exposed section where those in front were no where to be seen. I kept expecting to see the PRB come up behind me once he had rehydrated and regained his energy at the aid station, although this didn’t occur.

Nearing the 21km point, the track deviated to the right, with the Y-junction marked off with witches’ hats. Three trail Bikes came roaring through here as I rounded the bend, and sped off in the direction from where I came and the other, tired runners still were. I called at them to be careful, but am equally sure that this was unable to be heard above the roar of their unmuffled engines. According to the reasonably accurate S625x, I went through the 21.1k point around 1:40:30 which may neither be accurate nor fair given the downhill nature, but I am happy enough to take it nevertheless.

I had been wondering how close to the finish was Vanity’s Crossing, as Bob had warned me that it would be quite high, and even suggested that I take off my shoes and socks for the wading. Around a sweeping bend, the river was in view, with a guy in front of me wading across the knee deep water. The depth gauge near the bank read around 0.6m, and I firmly planted my foot in the water to cross, before remembering that I was wearing the footpod. I thought that it was water resistant, but at that moment couldn’t recall exactly, and, being too late plowed ahead through the refreshingly cold, clear river that reached my mid-thigh. (Ducks Disease – curse of the Seagoons).

It was a relief to see two familiar faces manning the aid station at the other side, Narrelle and Diane, spouses (pl spice?) of two Canberra running identities. I stopped and drank two full cups of water, and then continued on, wondering if the footpod would still work, and how the feet would respond to such a drenching with around 6kms to run.

The pod was fine, and although I found it a little heavy going picking up my sodden shoes and socks with each step on the not-so-welcome uphill stretch, the anticipated blisters did not eventuate. It was a slow old k. though – my 5 minute pace had been maintained pretty well until then, however this ascent with wet shoes took nearly twice as long.

Despite coming across a small group of 4WDs driving on the track, the rest of the run was fairly straight forward, despite the small climb up ‘Ma’ and ‘Pa’, two hillocks after Vanity’s. Here I could see two runners in front of me, walking sections of the hills, and although I didn’t catch them straight away I was to further on. Another river crossing and checkpoint near the finish was far easier, and not even ankle deep. Nearing the end, Cool Runner Phibes came powering past, with a smile on his face and in his voice, cheering me (Go Flash) and a nearby runner (Come on Kez) as his flashed past. There was the welcome sight of Black Mountain Tower and the hills of Canberra spread out before me, and then the roadway ensuring that the finish was just around the corner.

Avoiding 4WD’s and Sunday Motorcyclists tearing up the road, I felt fresh enough to put on a burst, and ‘sprint’ (relative term!) to the finish. Love trail running, love these sorts of distances!

CJ had finished well in front of me, over 4 minutes, and a collection of finishers were cooling off in the cold clear water of the river, using it as a convenient ice bath in the warm conditions. I changed out of my wet shoes, and joined them, tentatively sticking a toe in and then standing in knee deep water chatting to others for a very social bathing ceremony! I think that the Japenese, turks and ancient Romans had it right!

4 Responses to “Bulls Head Challenge Part II”

  1. Anonymous Go Girl 

    Great run Flashduck, and the little splash must have been very refreshing after the race.

  2. Anonymous Gronk 

    Nice one FD ! 28km downhill ? Sounds easy ! (Kidding !)

  3. Anonymous Luckylegs 

    Great run, FD! 6Ft will see you way ahead of the 'turtle'!!

  4. Anonymous ewen 

    So, will you and Peter be generous enough to wait for the two tortoises at 6ft? My thoughts exactly re Emma - how can she look so cool and comfortable after running so far, so fast?!

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