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Published: November 10th 2014
The first booking that was made for this whole 10 week trip was the entry into The Great Barrier Reef Marathon Festival. This was done way back in january. Once that was done we could move on and plan routes, book flights and so on.
Throughout our summer in Haute Provence, this had been our motivator to get out and run, which we did several times every week. As it turned out the Provençal landscape was perfect preparation for the marathon run, lots of hills and rocks, at that point though I hadn't sussed the fine points of the actual race route, so the similarity was lost on me.
Once back in England we had continued to run, on the flat of course, that being the nature of the Selsey coastline. So all good in terms of preparation. Just one slight downside; we left home 5 weeks ago and hadn't run since. As a race taper I have to conclude that it's a tad to soon to stop, ideally we could have done with another 3 weeks good training. However, can't have it all ways.
One piece of good fortune probably made the day. In our last day
or so in Thailand and during our flights to Oz, Carol had been poorly with a stomach bug, which had wiped her out. She wrestled long and hard with what to do and decided that the 26 mile race would have been too much, so transferred to the 10km. That was before we were aware of the marathon route. Without a doubt that was the best decision that Carol could have made, it enabled her to enjoy the day rather than suffer.
At 4.00am, getting up time, the conditions were perfect, a balmy 22C. By race start time, 5.30am, with the sun up, the temperature had started to climb. By midday it was just teetering around 40C. Steve Moneghetti, Australian superstar runner has the title of race ambassador and was at the start to send off the marathon runners. He then joined the race as a competitor, coming in second. Not bad for a guy who was at his best in the 1980's. Just goes to show that when you have that elite level of skill and aptitude you don't really lose it ( not quickly, anyway). The race start and first 4.5 km was on 4 mile Beach.
The last time I had run on sand had been day1 of the Indo Ultra, a 6 day stage race, on the island of Lombok, in Indonesia. The upshot of that had been. DNF, on day 1. The soft sand allows the heals to sink and therefore the Achilles to overextend, which is not a good thing when just recovering from Achilles Tendonitis. So, with this in mind the start on the beach was undertaken very cautiously. Fortunately the sand was very firm and the trashed Achilles' had recovered allowing the beach stage to pass with out event. Once off the beach there was a section on roads and paths that took us to the outskirts of Port Douglas and into the surrounding farmland, all of which looked very prosperous. Carol's 10 km route had used the beach section too, quickly turning back on the town roads to give the 10 km distance.
The marathon route continued out towards the adjacent hills, initially on a little spur at the end of which we just turned around and started backtracking; this was put in the get the total distance up to 42 km. This section, at the base of the hills was on road and gently undulating, so all ok. After 18km we were completely off road and at the start of the Bump Track. That to me conveys the sort of surface/inclines seen in a kids bike park. Not so. In 2 km we ascended 400 metres, on a narrow track through forest, on a surface of scraped, uneven rock. After that there was another 4 km of less steep but still undulating track to ascend before turning round and hammering down. In this upper section we had the added delight of a stream crossing - hopping from rock to rock. Fortunately, it being the end of the dry season and only just the beginning of the wet there wasn't too much water sloshing around. Needless to say, I was still going up when the front runners were coming down. It's a great feature of this sort of race that the runners always encourage each other, lots of well done's, keep going and so on, no matter where you are in the field. Apart from encouraging each other, there's usually time for a chat if someone else is going around the same pace; breathlessness tends not to be a feature, more muscle exhaustion. All sorts of people with great stories. One guy had lost 40kg over the last year, using running and dietary control. A Scot, living in Australia but working in China, very interesting. One lady had been a banking executive, but having suffered her second near heart attack had reassessed her life, jacked the work in and was beginning to work instead on other achievements; this race had been the first tick off, from her newly created bucket list.
Once down and off the Bump Track we were soon back on roads heading in to Port Douglas, just 14 km away. It was nice to have such a gentle end to the race, well more essential than nice, from my perspective. That last section took us through several of the resort complexes and golf course that make up outer Port Douglas, all very plush. The finish was back on the sea front, under blazing sun, with a live band playing . Post race recovery involved a swim in the lush tropical ocean and a beer at the surf life saving club. Not too many races offer such a wonderful ending.
Tot: 2.286s; Tpl: 0.018s; cc: 10; qc: 49; dbt: 0.0398s; 2; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb