5 weeks out from the big dance at GNW100 and training runs are now becoming a contest of who can think up the toughest and longest training run, throw some logistics around it and then ask the most important question for the weekend, “Ok, so what time will I need to wake up to get to the start on time this Saturday?”
The answer to this weeks question, 12:25am.
All for an 80km run along the GNW in a menacing thunder and lightning storm, in the dark, with the screaming leeches and overflowing creeks. It even had Darrel questioning whether this might rate fairly highly on our scale of stupid things done together. At least we weren’t dealing with frozen water drops this time!
With a 2:45am departure from cedar brush track head, the running mad kiwi, Mr 100% Alexis, Darrel and I headed off for Wakefield in Darrel’s car bombarded by a torrential storm and a cracking lightning show.
Managing only by sheer luck not to hit the drenched drunk hitchhiker dressed in black walking along the F3 with his thumb sticking into the inside lane, the next exit was for the hospital, the world works in mysterious ways.
By 4am and with the storm in full swing we couldn’t wait to get going and leave Wakefield, waving to the local bush fire brigade, one guy smoking and the other in his flammable pyjamas, I’m sure they looked at us in the same way we looked across at them. As they went home to their doonas we went in search of the big climbs up to the communications towers (“lightning rods”) above Heaton Gap and also above Congewai Valley. Nice!
The rain eased midway through the first leg into the Watagan mountains and we made good time to CP1 under headlamp just as the sky’s were turning from black to early morning grey and the day was just starting to come to life.
The next leg along the top of the ridge towards Barraba Trig flashed by and soon we were knee deep in mud spooking the quartet of galloping horses in the paddock as we climbed the stile before hanging a right onto Congewai Road. Even on a cool wet morning the mountains were holding some heat and the skies turned blue as we were at the school filling up just before 9am with 45km under the legs and giving us all a good idea of some possible race day splits.
The next section is the training benchmark leg for all of us. CP2 to Cedar Brush 32.5km of the best running terrain this side of the Victorian Alps and as I say to Darrel, “it’s all downhill, except for the uphill bits”.
To make it interesting we played a few games of cops and robbers along here with a few staggered starts over various sections (a great way to keep training runs interesting devised by the dual winners of Sydney oxfam quality meats).
Hitting some very encouraging splits on this leg soon enough we were climbing up and out of the basin and smelling the barn nearing the final downhill leg and reaching the cars at Cedar Brush for a solid run, just short of 80km and all done by early afternoon.
A great day on the trails, only a few Saturdays left before the spiders and leeches have two taper weeks to reclaim the trail and set their traps before 135 runners line up on the start line and charge towards Patonga, along the way many stories will unfold.
Darrel, what time is the alarm being set for this weekend?
Happy training, best time of the year to be running.