To mix things up a little this week, Darrel, Gordi and I headed up to Brooklyn for an out and back to Berowra over a lower part of the GNW course, and what is also the start and first two sections of the Sydney Trailwalker course.
I haven’t done this part of the course for probably over a year, so it was nice to head up to a different part of the track for a change. While not huge in distance (42kms), the run is good because of the technical nature of most of the track we run on. The first 7kms out of Brooklyn see a steady rise to around 200m from sea level and some wonderful views over the Hawesbury, but all over very runnable fire trail. It’s then 6kms of single file technical track towards Cowan Train Station, with plenty of up and down for good measure too. The thing with this run is that the climbs are not huge, but it’s constant up and down, so really works the quads over.
We pushed a fairly solid pace through the technical ‘stuff’, after a ‘leisurely’ start on the fire trail and hit Cowan train station in 1hr 47mins. From there it’s 8kms down to Berowra Ferry. There’s good descent and ascent in this section, and again we made good progress before the final descent down to Berowra, knocking off this section in 1hr 10mins, and a first section time of 2hrs 57mins.
Now the real challenge began… try to get back quicker than we came out. This would be harder for the first section as there’s the extra climb out of Berowra to contend with, making a 1hr 10min return leg quite tough. But likewise the final stretch down to Brooklyn would be easier because of the downhill. We worked hard on the climb out, before Darrel and I opened up a little on the descent, where there’s some great technical running to be had. This section is great for practising the technical downhill running and more than once, I was pushing the envelope somewhat in terms of keeping upright, but all good fun. Taking a tumble or two is all part of the fun, as both Darrel and I found out yesterday.
Once the climb back up was done on the other side of the valley and we were on the relative flats I decided to open up a little here with a couple of sub five min kms and hit Cowan in 1hr 9mins… Bonus!
I was a little tired after this effort and didn’t think that a negative split would be on the cards at all. Indeed, the next 6kms back through the bush after Cowan train station is again all technical single file track, with a rise of 200m and some pretty tough going trail. But this is where the fun begins, trying to run hard over this type of terrain when you’re starting to flag a little. As we’d expected, it was slower going and we reached the open fire trail with 5hrs 15mins on the clock, and another 7 kms to go in just 39 mins if I was to negative split. Darrel said we couldn’t do it… I begged to differ and put the afterburners on to see what the legs had left. Knowing that this was all relative downhill, I thought it possible, so sped off.
The downhills were great and a few 4:15 kms were ticking over, but with 2kms to go, I was pretty smashed and finally reached the car in a total time of 5hrs 55mins and a one minute positive split. Not bad going and a bloody good work-out over some nice tough technical terrain, which would work out to roughly 14 hour Trailwalker pace.