Trials and tribulations of the KSR trail running team.
Well 2013 was a stellar year for me, I was able to train well, race a lot and by Christmas time I had racked up a number of great results, so to say I was excited about 2014 is an understatement.
I had planned a number of races, all of which required logging high km’s and loads of vertical in Jan/Feb of 2014. Unfortunately my well laid plans had come unstuck. I carried a number of niggles through 2013 and at the start of 2014 they caught up with me. So instead of training the house down on the trails I was restricted to the opposite, low km’s (<50km/week) on flat road at a slow pace for all of January.
Running was becoming a bit of a mental chore and it wasn’t until February that things started to look up.
Late at night on the 19th of February 2014 my wife and I decided to take a spontaneous road trip with our 4mth old daughter, not really knowing where to go I did what every runner does, scans the internet for potential races and I found 2 marathons for that Sunday the 23rd of February.
What makes a marathon great you ask? Well some people might say a beautiful course, cheap entry, recovery facilities and atmosphere? Wangaratta Marathon offered all of these, but for me it is having the ability for the family to participate. Wangaratta allowed participants to push a pram in their longer events and the other marathon did not. As my wife wanted to run we decided to drive an extra 1000km round trip so she could run the ½ marathon as well.
2 days later we packed up the car and drove the 1500km to the race and kick start our holiday.
Camping in a tent for the first time with a 4 month old the night before a marathon isn’t exactly the best preparation, but given the start of my year I was happy to just have an injury free run and try to run about 2:45, which is where I thought my training would have me.
So race morning arrived and with two days of travel and a restless night under our belts we got ourselves organised, popped our daughter in her Chariot and jogged down to the start.
Now Wangaratta isn’t what you would call a “bustling metropolis” so I was very surprised to see around 250 people in the early morning light already at the race area getting prepped. This really is a testament to the great work of the race committee including local ultra-legend Justin Scholz who managed to get the whole community behind these events. I believe in total there where 2000+ participants across the range of distances from Marathon to 1km on the day.
So with a quick kiss from my girls I stuffed some Endura Gels into my shorts pocket and took my place among the other runners on the start line and after some quick and helpful words from Justin it was Ready Set …BANG and we were off.
Instantly a stocky looking runner in a Woodstock Runners shirt took the lead and led myself and the rest of the field around the first few bends and onto the twisting bike path that would be our home for the next 2-3hrs. The first few km’s started to tick over ,3:45,3:44,3:47 and I was thinking to myself geez this might be a bit quick, I had only really planned to run around 3:55. Never the less I let it roll and hoped my legs (which were quite dead at that point) would warm up.
Through the twisting turns and under bridges we went and before long it was down to just three of us at the front all taking turns in the lead and keeping to the 3:45 pace set at the start. At about 15k I passed Tymeka and Indie in the half marathon, snuck a quick high five and finally began to feel my legs warm up. My stride became less strained and I started to work into my grove…things where feeling great and surely enough I also started to pull away from the other two boys.
One of the other guys managed to hold on about 10m back from me until about 26k when the elastic band finally snapped and the next time I looked back he was gone.
The course was particularly nice at Wangaratta with more than 70% in the shade of the tree lined river which meant the temps where down and running was very pleasant given the recent spate of 40 deg days they have had.
Running on my own now I just focused on the things I could, getting my nutrition in on schedule, drinking and watching the kms tick by. I was very surprised when I hit the 30k mark and dropped a succession of 3:38-3:40min/km splits without even thinking about it.
Nearing the end of the marathon you pass the start line again and complete the final loop over some interesting swinging suspension bridges. It was here that I encountered some serious congestion from the shorter events but thankfully for me the lead bike was clearing a path through the crowds, who of course offered nothing but cheers and words of support.
The last 500m of the course runs onto the showgrounds and through the finishing shoots where 100s of people were waiting and cheering, it really was a great finish atmosphere. After 1-2 slower km’s due to the congestion I crossed the line in 2:38 taking first place and unexpectedly set a 6 min PB and new Course Record for the Wangaratta marathon.
Wangaratta marathon really does have it all – a shady interesting and flat course, community participation, good recovery facilities and most importantly inclusion of everyone! As it turned out my wife had a great run pushing our daughter in the Chariot clocking a cool 1:53 for the 21k which included a speedy nappy change. If you ask me that performance is more impressive and memorable than my win! As an active family we really enjoyed the event and it would be good to see some of the other marathons in Australia follow suit and allow running prams in their longer events.
Nutrition for the event:
I have been working on my nutrition plan for racing for the last few years but after the Alice 60, K2D 50 and now Wangaratta wins I think I finally have it down pat!
During the event: