So I did it. My first trail race EVER!!!! And needless to say that it’s crazy addictive. I can see why so many people are joining the off-road running movement.
I decided, with my limited trail experience, that 10km wouldn’t be soooo bad as an entry level onto the scene. Then the race organisers decided to make it 11km. When I crossed the finish line I had actually clocked right on 12km. That was a whole 2km trail fun bonus!!!
A little bit more about the race – the Rafferty’s Coastal Run starts at Rafferty’s Resort, Cam’s Wharf, about 2 hours north of Sydney. It’s an amazing place with lake side views and the beach not too far away. The race itself had 3 distances – 11km/22km/35km – and has the small time feel with a couple of food outlets, the main sponsor clothing Thermatech, and the standard medical/registration/portaloos.
As my first race experience I wasn’t too sure how they’d start them off but the use of the cowbell to send off groups of 4/5 worked well. The course wasn’t crowded at any stage.
Since I had been commuting 4 hours a day, I hadn’t been doing any weekday running & only had 1 run since my Gold Coast Half Marathon race. I hadn’t run on any trails since my monster 18km trail/road extravaganza back in May. This was purely fun and I decided that I could just walk the course if worse came to worse. I estimated for my first time, that 2 hours would be awesome to cover the 12km distance.
I met the first kilometre with absolute exhaustion. My whole body was sore. I couldn’t believe I had 10km to go, and I was still running on the path!!!!!
I was starting to feel ok when we approached what seemed like the biggest hill (and the beginning of the awesome trail part of the race), I was so happy when everyone walked up it, rather than running. Phew!!!! This was my race. I quickly was able to get back into running mode and made my way up until km 4. This is where the craziest thing happened, and shows that rude people can be found anywhere (even on a remote trail).
There was myself and another lady just ahead of me crossing the road and heading back onto the trail when a trail bike rider made his way through the entry point (which was zig zagged to stop vehicles entering) and was riding a little reckless when there were runners around. The lady in front of me said something to him (I’m certain she told him that he couldn’t drive on the trail – she mentioned later on that she herself was a dirt/trail bike rider); at that moment he stopped his bike and then revved his engine, moving the back tire so it flicked dirt and rocks in her face. Poor lady was absolutely covered and immediately broke down as he drove away. There was nothing else to do but stay with her and make sure she was ok. It wasn’t about the race anymore but rather about helping this lady get back on track.
We made it to the aid station and advised the volunteers there about what happened. I had heard of the infamous trail aid stations and I wasn’t disappointed. Lollies galore & potato chips!! It was only a brief stop as I grabbed a couple of things, filled up my drink bottle and made my way to the craziest part of the course. After we made our way over the road (via an awesome pedestrian bridge) we made a sharp left turn and had to climb up an embankment by way of a self made ladder and some rope to pull us up the remainder of the way – this was certainly an adventure!!!! I did notice around here there were a few groups who seemed to get lost, as they joined the course again.
Getting lost was one of my concerns (I still carried my phone on me) but the course was marked the entire way. I’m still not too sure how they got lost since they had to pass a sign with a red X on it.
At this stage I was LOVING the run, I was feeling good and maintaining surprisingly great pace! I was starting to feel a little light headed, I assume that you’re working WAY more than a normal pavement run, and I had only eaten a slice of toast with honey on it for breakfast (race began at 10am). I knew we had to run back past the aid station but I was holding out for it!!!
This is when I started to realise that I’d be running a little more that 11km. By the time the aid station came around again I was in desperate need for some sugar! I grabbed a handful of lollies, and some potato chips to suck the salt off (they tasted delicious at this stage) and just kept going. A quick calculation in my head made me realise that I’d be at the finish within the 2 hours – looking more at 1:40. Woohoo!
We finally met the main road and was running alongside when my watch indicated that there would be only 1km to go. But in reality it was 2km! It was incredibly muddy at this stage, running through long grass so there was limited spots where you could place your feet without ending up with muddy legs (no, I didn’t feel like I needed this at this point).
Once the mud section passed it was all downhill, which was an incredible feeling! It was here that I was able to pass a few more people, up until where we joined the road again to take us back into the resort and onto the finish.
I crossed right at 12km and at a time of 1:33. Gotta be happy with that!!! I congratulated the lady behind me who we seemed to pass each other several times during the race, and waited for the lady who had the run in earlier in the race. As soon as she passed over the line I gave her a giant hug and told her how amazing she was to continue and finish, because it’s true. In the face of shock & hurt she powered through, even though she didn’t feel like it.
I loved the finishers bags that they gave us at the end, it included a bottle of 4 Pines beer in it (amongst other goodies like an energy bar and bottle of water).
This race is so much fun! I loved every part of it, even though I wanted to give up at 1km and experienced rudeness in others around 4km (ok, so that I didn’t love). I will definitely look to do this one again in 2017, perhaps even looking at the 22km distance!