With my goal being the GOW100s, the mountains were no longer my training ground, as being fast at this race is the key to success. Although it harbours 3000m of elevation gain - none of the climbs are long, sustained efforts, so mountain legs aren't conducive to a good time. Throughout the duration of my build I spent plenty of time on flat surfaces, and getting my arse handed to me by the cross country folk here in Geelong. It was a lot of fun to change things up from my regular regime, but I was still training with the mountains in the back of my mind!
I had a couple of little bumps in the road along the way. An angry Soleus niggled at me for a couple of months, but thankfully it never caused me to cease training entirely and I was able to get on top of it before race day came around. I'd also had a little setback finding out that my 'training fatigue' was actually being caused by low iron levels. Upon having my bloods done the results showed that I had iron deficient Anaemia. So I got that sorted too, and was back feeling some vitality again after a few weeks!
I worked my training around these little things and GOW was already here. Definitely a little unsure due to my interrupted training - but I was confident I could have a good run now that I had another year of experience under my belt.
Race day..... Keeping it simple with the plan that pretty much permeates all my Ultra races. Run my own race.
Last year I went a little too hard before the 55km aid station at Johanna - this had me feeling like a bit of a mess and worried I wouldn't even make the finish! Not ideal when you're about to delve into the toughest, but also the most picturesque, section of the breathtaking 100km trail that is the Great Ocean Walk.
|About the only section of bitumen for 100km....The morning - as pristine as we could have hoped for.|
I'd kept myself under control and felt great as I rolled into the hills, a hugely positive contrast to last year. It was time to give it some real gusto and make an attempt to gap myself from everybody else. Regarding time gaps, I had no idea where anybody was - but I was in front and I wanted it to stay that way until the finish. I ran hard all the way to Melanesia beach, then backed it off for a few minutes to regain a little composure, before settling back into what felt like a good, solid rhythm.
Upon reaching Moonlight heads I was greeted by some Japanese tourists who'd driven a little too far into quite a large, muddy puddle. They were bogged and asked me if I could help.... I felt kind of bad, but I won't lie. I was exceptionally quick to fill my bottles, decline their request and keep running!
Five more km's in the bank and I was at the Gables. This is the last Aid Station on the course and marks 20km left to run. On a set of fresh legs the winding, undulating single-track awesomeness that follows would be incredibly enjoyable. However on tired legs, it's deceptively tough. The constant short sharp ups and downs coupled with almost non-existent flats make you work for every meter of gain. Even with the ridiculous views of the not-quite 12 Apostles, it's still hard to avert your mind from the hurting in your legs. The thing that was helping me most was that at the Gables, I realized I was in with a good shot of Brendan's time of 2012. Which definitely came as the core of some motivation to push.
Getting to the Visitors Center that marks the finish is like chasing the Magic Dragon, you try and try and try, but you never seem to get any closer. In the dying moments it seems to come from nowhere, a very welcomed and wonderful sight indeed. As I approached with some ginger legs, ducking and weaving through tourists, I could see the finish Gantry reading 9:08, definitely on the right side of the time I'd hoped for.
|20minutes off last year's time and I was a happy little jogger.|
|A more relaxed finish this year after I almost got pipped on the line by a bus in 2013.|
A cold water soak with Dan Beard the next morning was golden, as I limped around like a wounded gimp... Followed by 3 breakfasts and presentations, the GOW100s were a wrap for another year!
|A very welcoming place for a leg soak with 100km in the legs!|
Thanks to my parents for being endlessly supportive and a flawless crew, Andy Hewat, Brett Saxon and all of the selfless volunteers that make it possible year after year at events like this. And of course, all my fellow runners that are a huge amount of fun to hang out with at every event I attend!
On a side note, as I finish writing this I realized that it's been nearly bang-on 2 years since I began my ventures into trail running..... How time flies and what a fulfilling journey it's been so far! I'm immensely looking forward to the next 2 (and the rest)!
My race kit;
Watch - Suunto Ambit 3 Peak
Top - Salomon Exo Tank
Shorts - Salomon S-lab
Socks - Salomon S-lab
Shoes - Salomon Sense Ultra Softground 3's
Pack - Salomon Advanced Skin Hydro 12 with Salomon Soft Flasks.
Sunglasses - Swisseye Novena.
Nutrition - Shotz Sports Nutrition Gels and Electrolyte Tablets.