Talk about doing things on the spur of the moment, but after a chilly mid week run in the Blue Mountains I was drawn to knocking out another marathon plus training run this weekend when I stumbled upon what can only be described as a very slick version of a Fat Ass run.
Martin “Flyer” Fryer is well known to Ultra168 readers as a living legend when it comes to knocking out stupendous distances over several days. In terms of overall rankings Martin is up there with the best to have ever attempted to run not only into the next night but into the next weekend !
In May of this year he will be running at the 6 Day UnixSport classic in Hungary aiming to cement his place as one of the all time greats. Whether he will get close to the incredible distance set by Yianni Kouros of 1037 km set in 2005 is another question for another day but he certainly has some impressive competition to deal with.
As is the nature of Ultra running, we do it for the passion and not the riches bestowed on other sports. So in order for Martin to maximise his chances of success when in Hungary, he decided to hold a fundraiser with a twist. Let’s all go for a run up and around a mountain and let it be a trail marathon!
The Flyer’s Midnight Mountain Marathon Madness was born and 40 hardy soles and relay teams turned up to Stromlo State Forrest on the outskirts of Canberra to run 7 x 6 KM laps of the mountain starting at 7pm at night with a strict cut off of 5 hours.
The facilities at this venue are perfect for running as it is set up to deal with the hoards of MTBers who criss-cross the trails all year round.
Athletes from ACT, NSW and even Victoria made their way to the evening briefing and it wasn’t long before a train of head torches weaved its way up the side of the mountain onto wide open fire trail.
I didn’t have any set plan in place regarding pacing and splits but due to my rapid last minute planning I failed to check out the course profile and was somewhat surprised to be feeling the lungs bursting in the cold mountain air as we spent the first 2kms climbing ! In fact over the 42km I clocked up 1100m of elevation gain. Once over the top of the climb the trail opened out with great views back across the city.
I chose to run in my trusty Nike Free’s and I felt the temps were not low enough to need more than shorts and race shirt and I added a buff and gloves to keep me a little warmer than on a normal Sydney run.
The half moon soon set behind the ranges and the need for a decent head torch was evident when we left the comfort of fire trail and onto around 4kms of twisty, technical descending single track. I think it was at this stage I realised that a nice evening training run was going to require 100% effort just to get through in one piece as the rocks, roots and drop offs were just waiting to catch out the briefest lapse in concentration. In fact quite a few runners appeared out of the gloom after each lap sporting signs of a few spills and also frustrated at unreliable lights giving out on the bumpy trails.
The field settled into a routine of climbing and descending and I soon started to enjoy myself immensely. Apart from the chit chat on the first lap, and due to the nature of the twisty trails, I spent most of the run in the comfort of my own thoughts and the amazing silhouette of the mountain against the city skyline.
I was passed only once by the classy Bry McConnell who went on to claim the womens win and I snagged 5th in the mens division in a little ever 4hours 9mins. Not too bad for a base building week as I focus on my European trip next week and UTMB later on in the year .
I was surprised at how quickly the evening had passed and it was a shame to finish as I felt I could start out there all night enjoying the solitude of the night and a cracking trail.
After the final runners made it into the relative warmth of the club house and a couple of small prizes given out, we all made a dash for the freeway and the overnight drive back to Sydney.
It was great to see the camaraderie on display for a fellow ultra runner and the turn out of some classy athletes on the night is testament to the support for Martin’s tireless commitment in his pursuit of a quality performance in the Green & Gold in a couple of weeks. We will be doing a more detailed feature on Martin’s attempt in a few weeks
Individual Open Results: -
3:29:54 Craig Benson
3:51:42 Aaron Coles
3:53:31 Peter Young
4:01:13 Richard Juckes
4:01:39 Bryony McConnell (1st F)
4:09:46 Marcus Warner
4:13:29 Malcolm Gamble
4:14:35 Ian Wright
4:28:27 James Sylvester
4:37:16 Tim Craig
A request from Martin is to seek interest on whether we would like this run to become something a little more permanent on the trail running calendar and I would give it a resounding yes as I can’t remember having so much fun on the trail at night as I did last night.
Big thumbs up from me.
Tune in to Ultra168 to follow Martin’s progress next month.