The early bird catches the worm: January 2012 preview

Most runners I know are on a bit of downtime right now. The big season races are complete and everyone is looking forward to a good stuffing at Christmas. However, there are two races on right at the start of 2012 which should catch your attention, and they’re both races that I’ve done in the past.

Two of Australia's finest athletes taking the course by storm at Narrabeen (image courtesy of AURA and Taronga Zoo)

First up is the Narrabeen Allnighter. I’ve done this race twice before and I’ll be honest, it’s a real killer on the mind. The setting is fantastic, around the lake at Narrabeen, starting at 8pm for the 12 hour guys and gals, with a 9pm start for the 100km hopefuls. The first year I did this run I was in training for the marathon des sables. I carried a 10kg backpack for the first 6 hours, before discarding it and making my way to a rather mediocre 92kms. Immediately afterwards I found out that I had a fracture of the fibula and was laid off for 8 weeks. I only just made it to the start line of the MDS.

The second time around I was a little wiser, but unfortunately not that much fitter and plodded my way to 98kms. After that I said no more track events, but I havent managed to keep that promise 🙂 This is a great race for those that fancy an evening stroll alongside some of Sydney’s most pleasant scenery in the northern suburbs.

As this is an over-nighter too, the temps tend to be a little cooler, but not always the case. The last time I competed, it ws still 30 degrees at midnight. The killer thing about this race however is the dead period between 4am and 6am. And while a totally flat track may appeal, you need to watch your ITB on this one and make sure you mix things up every now and again with a bit of walking too.

I’ve tended to use this race as a bit of a kick-start for the opening of the year, and it’s a very well run event too. Ron Schwebel, the race director and Glen Lockwood, his trusty co-director make a great team, so if you live nearby and fancy a stroll, get your name down for this one. My plan is to get down for this one for a few hours to see how the race unfolds, and it will be nice to sit on the sidelines and help out for a change too!

Next up on the same weekend is the race that’s been around for donkeys years when it comes to ultras, Bogong to Hotham. This race is a brut, there’s no two ways about it. I ran this one last year and by 20kms, I’d felt as though I’d run 100kms already. If you want a true test of mountain running, this is the one to go and do.

Crossing Big River

The start sees a gentle meander from a campground, up to the foot of the track that rises to Mount Bogong. It rises 1,400m in just over 6kms!!! After that is a nice trek down to what’s known as big river, which sits at around 1,000m. And then, you’ve guessed it, a wonderful 800m climb out. I remember last year, walking out of big river as if I was blowing a hole right out of my arse. I was moving so slowly and couldn’t believe we weren’t even 20kms into the race by then. The only words to describe it was freaking tough as.

I hit Langford gap in just over 6 hours. If I was racing this year, I would have been DNQ’ed as the race moves back to the original format of one start and 6 hours to hit the one and only checkpoint. I tell you now… There will be a few people sweating on that cut-off 🙂

Following the monster climbs, there is then a fair bit of flat over the tops of the ranges, before you descend once again into the depths,before rising up and out past the Mick Miles memorial cairn and a nice 5km meander to the summit of Mount Hotham. Marcus will be racing this year and reporting for Ultra168 down on the NSW/Mexican border – the question is, can he beat my rather mediocre time of 10:56 from last year? 🙂

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I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

12 thoughts on “The early bird catches the worm: January 2012 preview

  1. And to think I was there when the foundation stone was laid for the Mick Miles memorial. Remember it like it was yesterday.

    Nice write up. You have reminded me the 2nd climb is a bit bigger than I remembered.

      1. And a fine option it is, though sadly no longer permitted. Minor navigational error that will be rectified by tattooing the pole number to my left forearm.

  2. Boy with Mick Cooper, Breden Davis, Mick Donges, Damon Goerke, Andrew Lee, Oliver Zambon and Tucks it will be amazing. Throw Rowan Walker in and anything could happen (a very fast marathoner on debut – should be a good experiment hey Sean?). I am assuming Vizey is not racing

  3. Don’t forget Wighty. Hard to go past in the tough trail races. Turn up the radar and he is flying just below it. And Dave Coombs. In fact there could be a big pack pouring on the pressure up front. Look forward to 168 form guide.

    1. You’re dead right whippet this one is going to be almost too close to call. Whomever wins this one will have some serious dick swinging rights for the rest of the year! Form guide to follow, in between nappy and poo changes 🙂

    2. Whippetman,

      For a moment I thought you were tipping me for a Bradbury type win!

      I’ll be travelling down with Martin Fryer who will be cruising at the back of the race as the sweeper. As usual I’ll hopefully be about mid-pack at Langford’s and hoping for Big Heat so I can move up the rankings a few places on the final 30 km slog.

      I wonder what the High Plains is like though ? The last ten years has been relatively easy underfoot across the high plains, but there has been a lot of rain in the past 18 months, so those alpine bogs might be very interesting this year….


  4. You forgot the biggest participation Ultra in January, probably the biggest until 6ft, Two Bays Trail Run, 56km with over 200 in the ultra and then throw in a lazy 500+ into the 28km single crossing event. It has quickly become one of the ‘must do’ events for January.

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