A little self-indulgent and just my thoughts only, but with just three days to go until the Great Ocean Walk 100km and as the sole entrant from Ultra168, I’m getting very excited about running 100kms again, and meeting up with friends both near and far amongst the ultra-running scene. I was really disappointed to have to drop out of the Glasshouse 100km back in September because of a slight injury to the lower right leg, but having been back in full on training since then and got some good kms under my belt, I’m raring to go in this one and will be aiming to go hard.
I’m certainly under no illusion that I’ll be mixing it up with the whippets up front, there’s some serious quality in this field, but I do hope to give a good account of myself in this, a race that I love. I ran the inaugural event in 2009 following a disappointing Glasshouse race then too. The added benefit of this race is that it’s generally cooler (which suits me), it’s extremely scenic and the route is probably the best in Australia, taking you along rugged coast line and stunning single file track – RD Andy Hewat has done a stirling job in getting this race together and keeping it on the calendar. It’s also a pretty quick course too as while undulating, there’s only a few ‘bigger’ hills to contend with so I do think we’ll see another course record this year from some of the speedsters up front.
In saying this though, the track can really suffer from the elements as the runners found out last year when mud and rain descended on the trail to make it a very mucky one indeed. I was due to run last year, but again injury got the better of me, and by the time I’d had chance to return I wasn’t overly enamoured with trying to just dog it out and trundle home for a time within cut-off, so I traveled and ended up pacing my good mate and fellow Ultra168 athlete Darrel Robins to a joint second place in the miler.
From my recollection, the first 20 and last 20kms of this race are quick, with some gnarly stuff in the middle. The temptation can be to go out a little too hard as you get carried away with the beautiful soft trails and downhills. As I recall, some of the toughest bits of this course are after Johanna Beach where you weave in and out of the cliffs, and whilst stunning, it’s here that full concentration is required to keep yourself on track and moving well.
The last 20kms or so is a blast. I remember hitting the final checkpoint in 2009 in third place and seeing the then second place runner Gareth Parker, another good mate just leaving. It dawned on me then that we were fighting for places, and I really enjoyed running along the sandy flats in hot pursuit of the little man. I failed to catch him (I think he was using the trees to swing himself along quicker, picking up bananas along the way), and I know there’s a few slight course changes this year, but I’ll be aiming to make good time along that last 20kms or so towards the finish.
With GNW the focus for this year and the major race on our calendar here at Ultra168, some might ask why I’m doing a 100km race ahead of something that I’ve spent the best part of 4-5 months training for? Well, it’s all part of the bigger plan I guess. I think that doing ‘other’ races ahead of your bigger events is good as it sharpens you up and gets you in race mode so to speak. The last thing I would do ahead of GNW is to put that run in jeopardy, so if I need to hold back somewhat then I will – you always have to remember your focus and keep your eyes on the prize so to speak. GOW also in my mind acts as a great ‘long-run’ hit out before the big dance, which begs the question of how to taper?
Traditionally, I think many ultra runners use the marathon style of taper whereby we’ll do our last long run three weeks out from the big one. When I trained for the Northburn 100 miler earlier in the year, I followed a pattern of doing the bigger long run (70kms odd) 4 weeks out from the race, with a slightly shorter run (60kms-ish) three weeks out, and then a hard 45kms two weeks out (6ft Track). The plan is to follow this process again, so that my build-up leading into GNW will look like this:
– 4 weeks out – GOW 100km
– 3 weeks out – (Probably) Yarramalong to Patonga 70kms
– 2 weeks out – Yarramalong to Mooney Mooney creek 42kms hard
– 1 week out – One rep of Kedumba 16kms and then chicken curry pie from that place on the highway in the Blue Mountains with chocolate milkshake
One thing’s for sure, there’s a lot of very excited runners around right now. Ninety per cent of the hard work has been done – we’re reaching that crest whereby the final icing is being added and that last ten per cent needs to be done to round off training. I know for sure that I’ll be a very nervous runner on the start line come November 12th. GNW is massive and deserves the up-most respect.