Even though the day before was ominous with dark clouds and patches of rain, race day dawned bright and clear and we were all optimistic that the weather was going to be favourable for racing.
We got to registration and checked in and got our packs checked and signed off on. For the 12km Hooper Loopers, we had to carry some compulsory gear which included: polyprop top, hat, gloves, map of the area and windproof/rain jacket. All of that fit into my hydration pack – I had about 750ml of water as well.
We watched the Jumbo-Holdsworth runners off at 8am, then we were off from the trail head at 8.30am. The first bit was easy – fairly flat with some undulations before we hit River Ridge track which was the steep uphill bit. It seemed to go on and on forever. We must have been climbing for about 45-60minutes, though I’m not really sure. It was so tough going that I never even had a chance to look at my watch as I pushed and pulled myself up over and around tree roots. I was lucky that during this hard bit of the race, I had some company – one behind me, and about 2 just slightly ahead of me, so I could follow them pretty much, but occasionally when I lost sight of them, I had to keep my eye on the orange tags nailed into the trees to make sure I didn’t wander off and get lost. Near the top the wind was quite strong, but we were pretty well protected by the bush around us. It was very cold wind – but that was very much welcomed, as it was like air conditioning on our over worked and over heated bodies!
When I got to the top I was greeted by a marshalling team (second and last checkpoint) and started running as it was starting to flatten out. I was surprised how fresh my legs were. Climbing obviously uses different muscle groups from running on a flat. Pig’s Flat was called that for a reason. It was mostly broadwalk, but it was flat until we got to Gentle Annie, which was the fun downhill bit. Running has never felt easier!
At the almost last downhill, I rolled my right ankle quite severely, limped it out but kept running. It came right – I was relieved I didn’t injure it badly. The last 1km was a flat sprint to the finish line just outside of Holdsworth Lodge. The organiser for this year, Liz, was there at the finish line to congratulate the finishers and shook everyone’s hand. That was a nice touch.
A BBQ lunch was provided –bread and sausages with fresh vegetables and fried onions and mushrooms.
It was an amazing experience and we all enjoyed ourselves even though we were exhausted! We might just be back next year!
Just before the race (I was pretty nervous!):