It was an early start on the day, the alarm was set for 4:40am and the race was starting at 6am. As soon as I was up I ate a big bowl of rolled oats with banana and water, this meal had to get me through the 50k so I made sure it was a good one.
The course consisted of two 25k loops of undulating fire trail. Along the way there were a few creek crossing which made getting your feet wet unavoidable, luckily after each crossing my shoes were completely drained within a 100m or so.
The race started very slowly as all 43 competitors tried to pile through a small gate to enter the forest. I decided to keep the start as conservative as possible and hung around the middle of the pack. It was very easy to get caught up in the 'race' and run too fast, too soon - my goal was to not worry about the people overtaking me and stick to a pace I was comfortable at.
It was a perfect temperature; slightly overcast and the ground was soft. As I came in to the first turn around after 12k I was feeling great and three competitors were not far ahead. The aid station/turn around was at the bottom of a big hill, I knew this hill was going to be twice as hard come the second lap.
During the second leg I found myself running with a few others and struck up a few conversations as they passed by. I decided it was pointless trying to keep up with them as I had no idea what times they were capable of and didn't want to tire myself on the first lap.
I made it back to the start point in 2hrs 19, feeling very comfortable. Again I didn't bother stopping for long just grabbed a banana and some coke - if I could reduce time at the aid stations it might make up for time lost on the steep inclines I had to face. My next target was to reach the 37k turn around point with enough energy to get me home.
It was hard to find any consistent rhythm as you were constantly running uphill or downhill. As I ran down the hill to the aid station I spotted 3 friends were there to give me that extra boost that got me back to the top of that damn hill. It put me in a great head space to get me on my way home.
The final leg home was certainly the toughest. I knew the first 5k was basically uphill so once I reached the top I could relax and get the job done. Not far in front of me was Dave Coombs, a very good runner, but I believe he was taking this race a bit easier. I stuck about 100m behind Dave and eventually caught him when he stopped to stretch. Dave again over took me and headed out in front, I tried not to let him out of sight.
I took my last gel which I had decided to save as it was caffeinated and I thought it would give me a boost of energy. It worked. The last 5k is basically downhill, I began to pick up the pace as my calves were slowly tightening - all I wanted to do was get to the ice baths at the finish line.
About 300m from the end I decided to go for it and pick the pace right up to see if I could catch Dave. I shouted “it's on!” as I came within 50m and the sprint to the finish was on. We both jumped the gate and took off for the line, I couldn't quite get there but it was an exciting finish!
I never would have thought I could get through that without hitting any walls and maintaining such a consistent pace. I can't wait to run another. I have officially signed up for the Tenzing Hillary 60k Ultra Marathon!