Wednesday, 18 December 2013

6 Inch Trail Marathon 2013 - Race report

The 6 Inch Trail marathon is a race I have missed out on the last couple of years since moving to Perth as my body has generally had a guts full by December and is ready for christmas ham and mid strength beers. Although I was by no means in ideal 'race' shape because of a couple of minor injuries, I was stoked to be lining up alongside some super fast runners for the race.

The race as always started at the crack of dawn at 4:30am and involves the first few km of the race going up Goldmine Hill. Not a big climb by any means but enough to get the juices flowing right from the start line while I was still trying to wake myself up. The pace was on right from the start as the lead guys took off. The race this year was stacked! Brendan Davies had come over from the Blue Mountains and we had local talent including course record holder Gerry Hill, last years winner James Roberts and a bunch of super quick marathoners in Tom Bakowski, Etienne Rodriguez, Kevin Matthews, Michael Ho and more.

The first 10-15km played out pretty much how I thought it would. Brendan and Gerry were off out front for a while before Brendan dropped the hammer and made a decent break. Behind those two was me and my good mate Tom and we gradually bridged the gap between Gerry and ourselves. Personally I was just trying to keep things as low key as possible early on making sure I stayed within touch of the front runners.

Approaching 18km I got word that Tom, Gerry and I were 2mins down on Brendan. I was surprised we weren't further back so knew we were running well. At this point the trail crosses the road and then goes up a short climb. It was around here I seemed to run ahead of the other guys. 

As I got to the 1st aid station the plan was to drop my handheld and pick up my AK race vest with 2 bottles as I knew the heat was going to come in hard and fast so I'd need the extra hydration. I basically grabbed the vest as I dropped the handheld and was off again down the trail within seconds.

The next section to aid 2 was a tough wee section. Enough short hills to keep you honest but enough flat stuff so that I had to keep an eye on my watch to make sure I was cruising along at a sustainable pace. I was averaging around 4min/kms through to aid 2. I was really cautious of not pushing too hard too soon in my efforts to try and catch Brendan out front. I figured there was no point pushing hard to catch him and then not be able to push harder, Brendan is a world class trail and ultrarunner so I was going to have to be smart if I wanted things to play out in my favour. Approaching about 34km there is a 2.5km out and back to aid 2 up the top of a fairly decent hill. My plan pre-race was that if I was anywhere near the front this was a spot I could hopefully close the gap. As I went past the volunteer at the start of the out and back he commented that Brendan was now about 30 seconds ahead. Unfortunately for Brendan along this out and back he made a wrong turn because of some flagging tape being down which on a course like 6 Inch makes things confusing at best - likely a kangaroo or possibly mountain biker, not at all due to course markings.

I was already running pretty solid approaching the start of the climb as I wanted to try and catch Brendan before the top or at the aid station. As I got further up the hill and finally to the aid station I realised he must have taken a wrong turn. Dave Kennedy the R.D was kind enough to provide some world class bottle filling skills and I was off hammering it down the hill a few seconds after arriving at the aid. I took to the downhill pretty fast, but a conservative fast. My Rapa Nuis were loving the descent and I maintained a pretty good speed down here. On the way down I came across Brendan, we had a brief few words and he said he'd gone the wrong way. Not too far along the trail I came across Tom next followed by Etienne, James, Big Kev and others. Tom looked super strong which also gave me motivation to ensure I closed out the race well.

My plan for the final 10km was to run solid but to not empty the tank completely. I had thoughts of the Hong Kong 100 go through my mind and I wanted to make sure that I didn't do anything silly in the final stages of the race. The last leg was really enjoyable as it was a section I had run before in one of the recon runs so I knew roughly where I was. I crossed the line in 3:20:28 for first place ahead of Tom Bakowski in 2nd and Brendan Davies in 3rd. I was over the moon with the result and it has been a timely boost of confidence before I head over to Hong Kong.

Thanks must go out to race director Dave Kennedy for putting on a fantastic race and all of the volunteers for their efforts and support during the day. Special thanks to my good mate Adam for partnering up with Liz to make a pretty formidable support crew for me. As always Liz was a massive boost whenever we crossed paths along the course.

As always I wore my Hokas, choosing the Rapa Nui trail shoes for this race. I used Injinji performance run 2.0 socks. My new Compressport Trail Shorts and trusty Compressport calf guards were awesome as always. Nutrition involved 7 Gu gels and some Hammer Endurolytes. Hydration was some quality H20 in an Amphipod HandHeld and an Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest.

For results see here: 6 Inch Trail Marathon Results

Some race photos courtesy of Ron McGlinn and Paul V Harrison:

Ron's Photos               Paul's Photos

My race on my Suunto Movescount can be found here: Movescount

Top of Goldmine Hill

Loving the trails

Tom and I

Approaching the finish line

I have no idea what this is about :p

Happy times

Winners trophy presented by Dave Kennedy

Monday, 9 December 2013

Trying something new

By attempting something really difficult and outside of your comfort zone,
you will discover how strong you really are - Anonymous

There has been quite a lot happening the last few weeks in my running life and I'm really psyched and excited to see where things are heading.

I have gone back and forwards over the last 9 or 10 months trying to decide whether I wanted to link up with some kind of running coach. There were different ideas in my mind about what that would involve, but I thought I could benefit from the use of someone who has far more knowledge than me about all things running. I liked some components of having a coach but disliked the idea of being told what to do and when to do it. Part of me thought that I had already had a few good performances based off what I was doing and did I really need a coach? After speaking with a few good running mates I was put onto the best in the business as far as endurance coaches go in Andy Dubois from Mile27 Personal Training.

Andy has a wealth of personal experience in ultra/endurance events including insane performances at the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc (UTMB), Ironman and has represented Australia in the World Mountain Running Champs to name a few. Coupling his own physical ability with the knowledge gained through years of study, it's pretty safe to say this guy knows his stuff!

Any nerves or doubt I had about running coaches were wiped within the first few minutes when talking to Andy on the phone. I was instilled with confidence that I had chosen the right guy. After seeing me run via video, Andy was kind enough to say it was pretty much natural ability behind my results to date as my core strength and flexibility were less than desirable. Funny to hear but also really exciting to think what I might be capable of once my hips loosen up and my glutes get stronger :)

I'm only into the first week of the training/strength and conditioning program but I feel like I am already reaping the benefits of the strength and stretching routine I am doing twice daily. It's going to be cool to see how things pick up from here!

It's been awesome being back running the last week feeling that my knee injury from GOW is completely behind me and my niggly hamstring seems to have settled down too. I managed to sneak a win at the Perth Trail Series 12km Moon Shadow night race a couple of weeks ago which was awesome. Such a cool race on some really awesome trails!

I have the 6 Inch Trail Marathon coming up this Sunday which is going to be awesome!! I have missed out on running 6 Inch the last couple of years because of injury so despite my lack of preparation I am really pumped about the race. The competition this year is going to be stronger than ever and it's going to be faaaaaaaast from start to finish. I have no expectations for this race as it is more part of my build-up for the Hong Kong 100 in mid January. Despite this I know full well that as soon as the start gun goes it will be game time!

Some of the big guns racing are last years champ James Roberts, race record holder Gerry Hill, Tom Bakowski, Etienne Rodriguez, Kev Matthews, Brendan Davies from the east coast, Craig Berg, Brett Coombs, Jon Pendse and many many more. It's going to be super tough to get anywhere near the podium and it's so great there is such a competitive field for a trail race in WA.

Sunday just can't come quick enough ;)

Happy times making our way to the start line for the Moon Shadow 12km night trail race

Liz, Kate and I at Moon Shadow

Me and Liz doing our favourite local run from home