Fitzroy Falls Fire Trail Marathon - Part II

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Very pleasant accommodation at the Sturt Craft Centre on Friday night, peaceful and relaxing with a strong sense of having returned to a National Fitness Camp! It was the smell – vaulted timber lined ceilings and a tiled floor, I couldn’t put my finger on it, either the recently used fireplace or the unflued gas heater?

I didn’t get around to another FortiJuice, so I barely cracked 600 calories in total on Friday. I felt good, but this was to tell later in the race!

I slept well until about 1:00am when I awoke and the brain got buzzing. Listened to a crackling NewsRadio relaying the BBC and Deutsche Welle overnight, and took an excursion out to the home-on-wheels to collect my trusty latex pillow. Fell asleep sometime after 3:00am, and woke with the first rays of light around 4:40am. Having set my alarm for 5:00am, I knew that there was no chance of me getting to sleep again, so bounced into the shower instead.

I had time to explore ‘the other side of the tracks’ for 10 minutes before McDonald’s opened at 6:00am for coffee. Settled on both a short and long black. Drove over Range Road again straight through to Fitzroy Falls, where a large sign indicating ‘Marathon Here →’ marked the spot. Some large marquees dotted the area in front of the Twin Falls cottages marked the race site, and a large paddock was set aside for parking with a few portaloos.

It was still fresh outside, so I relaxed with a FortiJuice and a gel. I saw the PRB’s car arrive and wandered over to say hello. A Canberra couple, Mario and Alice yelled their greetings en route rushing to the Portaloo. A trickle of people arriving soon turned into a deluge ~ many sporting the familiar blue and yellow. On the start line I had hugs and kisses from the Eagle and Lucky Legs. It is wonderful to be able to catch up with some of these special people although living distantly.

We were off on time, with a field of about 80 chatting and carefully winding their way down the start of the track. Once I had removed my long pants about 15 minutes before the start, I began to get very cold. Although I knew that I would warm up quickly, I find it very hard to do anything when cold, so started wearing a CR Tri Top and arm warmers. Soon after the start I found myself alongside Expozay and our foot fall was eerily in step. The field started to thin out fairly quickly and the trail winding up and down through the bush was visible as a long line. Tim was in view not too far away early on, but gradually disappeared from view.

Expozay and I talked easily, about her plans for the Sydney Spring Cycle with Amjam next weekend. Amjam is running so well at the moment that was also the subject of much discussion! I fell right back on any of the hills, and as we turned off the main track where there was a gentle uphill I fell right back and we lost touch from then on. It was nice while it lasted, although too short with about 5.7kms covered! At around 9kms a long downhill section littered with loose rocks began, and I was instantly in my element again with my stride opening and my body relaxing in the drop. I passed Expozay just before the 10km mark, and reminded her that she will catch me soon on the next climb or flat section. This proved to be the case.
The track wound its way around the bush, mainly on fire trails with some slightly rough and narrow sections on the way. Just part the first creek crossing (not sock wetting), a special first aid truck was set up, and this was to be repeated at the other potentially dangerous sections where sharp drops led to a rocky creek. Another example of the excellent planning and organisation of the event.

In this section leading up to the half way point I met CR RB who had completed Melbourne Marathon last week and (rather modestly I was to discover) described himself as a “4 hour marathoner”. It is always good to meet other Cool Runners and invariably it confirms what a nice bunch they are!

At the 20km drink station I saw a small bunch of 3 or 4 runners slowing down to stop and refill their drinks, and check out the jelly beans. An enthusiastic female volunteer went into overdrive when she saw me and cried out excitedly that I was second female. This was a shock, although I knew that Expozay would quickly catch up and that the second half was mainly uphill. I reminded myself what I was there for (a long training run in the bush with drinks provided) and just kept on enjoying myself. It turned out that is was downhill until about 24km, and there was a consistent climb until after 28km. As I had said to others at the start, I will run comfortably in the first half (or downhill stretch) and expect a huge positive split as the climb up to the finish begins.

There was a large, well stocked drink and snack stop close to 25km ~ a group of half a dozen women with ample supplies of mini mars bars, jelly beans, watermelon and other fruit. I think one of the volunteers took a rather unflattering photo of me here: I had long since rolled the arm warmers down to wrists and stripped the Tri Top down around my waist where it was sodden.

Along this stretch Expozay flew past me looking very fresh and fast. We wished each other well as she sped off into the distance. I was concerned when I saw Blue Dog heading towards me, and yelled to ask if he was OK. Silly me, as not too long after I saw other runners also coming back along the track on an obvious out-and-back section. Cheery calls of support from Eagle, who was looking very comfortable, and others on their way back provided a great fillip. The track was very steep and rocky in one area, making it difficult on the loose rocks especially with runners on their return leg. Not long after, Expozay cheered me along as she returned, with the advice that ‘the turnaround was just around the corner, really’! She was right as it turned out, and I had a GU and got rid of the packet at the water available there.

Fewer people around me now, and I’m sure that I was well back in the field. It was fairly straight forward back up to the 25km / 30km refreshment station where we now turned right. I was needing to take two cups of water now, was hot and threw some on my head. I drew level with another runner who was walking ahead and David introduced himself to me. We jogged together and talked for quite a while – it was his second ever marathon, and second time at Fitzroy Falls. Just as he asked me if I had stopped to walk, I was overcome by an overwhelming nausea and spotty vision. I stopped then and there, to prevent an unsocial upchuck, and then started to walk. David kindly walked with me for a while, and I dug out my other GU and gobbled it down.

Still green around the gills, David bid me farewell and jogged away. The trail was easy to follow thankfully as my eyesight was in its splotchy black spot mode. My brain must have cleared up somewhat as I was calculating if I (had to) keep walking if I would beat the sweeper. The GU must have kicked in, and settled down the excess water sloshing around and I started to jog again. It seemed as though I was walking forever, but in reality it was about 5 ½ minutes when analysed on my watch. Despite a steady uphill climb and nearing 34kms I felt fabulous and picked up my second wind. The next well stocked drink station had the usual selection of fruit and also cans of red coke. I knew that it was better to be prudent here rather than run through as I usually did, and when I found out that there was no flat coke, opted for a cup or two mixed with water. I had caught up to David here and left him behind, not to see him again. I hope that he did OK.

(Still to be continued)

1 Responses to “Fitzroy Falls Fire Trail Marathon - Part II”

  1. Anonymous plu 

    Hi C,

    great you had a good time. I really like the map becasue I have often wondered the shape of the course.

    Cheers Plu

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