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How I got caught by hounds

Normally when I do a longer run I gain a little more enlightenment.  This run was no different, I reconfirmed that my ancestors are apes.  But we'll get to this shortly.

In a turn of madness, I registered for this 52 km run just before Christmas.  The idea is that the solo runners (hares) start at 3:00 and the really teams (hounds) start at 4:30, with the aim of the hounds catching the hares.  This meant that I had to get my butt into gear and start training for the entire 4 weeks I had to the race.  At least I wasn't going to suffer from over training.

I was as ready as I was going to be with my longest training run 26 km on bitumen.  I set myself a target of finishing under 7 hours.  The plan was 3 hours to half way and 4 hours back.  With a start time of 3:00 Sunday morning, Kerrie came up with the great idea of going up on Saturday stay overnight at the Showground and stay cool on Saturday at Rocky Hole waterhole.

It was drizzling as we arrived at Rocky waterhole around 13:00 and soon after we were joined by a couple of friends that live in the area.  The waterhole is awesome, with Walter also getting a good couple of jumps in.

We finished off the day with a coffee/hot chocolate in Woodford and Kerrie and I had a nice dinner back at the camp at the Showground.  The showground is an awesome place to stay with all facilities and an unpowered site costing $15 per night for 2 people.

1:30am Sunday morning I was rearing to get going.  I downed a couple of coffees, got dressed, whacked on the anti chaffing cream and we got to the Woodford swimming pool just after 2:00am.  Kerrie volunteered and was stationed at checkpoint 4, the turnaround point.

We set off on time at 3:00 and I hooked onto the back of the field.  Yesterday afternoon and overnight it rained about 2 inches, which made for cool going, but apparently we had some slippery mud ahead.  I just was happy with the cooler weather and was sure that I was able to handle a bit of dirt.

Start to checkpoint 1 (about 10 km):

This section was pretty flat and it was all about figuring out positioning.  The trail was made up of compacted sand and it was fast going.  The light drizzle kept us all cool and I got to checkpoint 1 in good shape and pretty confident.  Although I was still fresh I forced myself to have a quick stop and drink some Endura and Coke.  For good measure I grabbed a banana for the way.

Checkpoint 1 to 2 (about 7 km):

Man, that banana tasted good and I felt invigorated.   All I could think of was the banana at the next checkpoint.  The trail turned a bit more muddy with several large pools of water that needed to be circumnavigated.  But all in all it was pretty flat and good going. I kept up an average of 6:30 minute kms, I was pretty happy, especially when I scored another banana at the checkpoint.

Checkpoint 2 to 3 (about 4 km):

Chomping away on my new found running food we were cooled down by a nice rain shower.  The fun really started with some rutted out steep clay sections, that were pretty tricky navigating with some precision sliding.  It was pretty slow going and threw out my average a bit.  But by the time I got to the next checkpoint it was daylight and I really wanted another banana.  I forced myself not to take one and just settle for the mandatory Endura and Coke.  Surely it can't be normal to have three bananas for breakfast.  This is when I started to realise that I may be related (distantly related I hope) to apes.

Checkpoint 3 to 4 (about 5 km):

I was starting to feel it in my legs a bit (maybe I should have had another banana).  By now I was running with two other guys and we encouraged each other along the way.  Apart for the banana, I was also looking forward to see Kerrie at the next checkpoint.  At the 23 km mark the front runners passed us on the way back.  These guys and girls are incredible and they also cheered us on. Before the race I didn't know the elevation gain of this course and I was pleased to get to the turnaround point knowing that there aren't any major hills on the way back.  I felt good getting to the checkpoint and as usual Kerrie gave me a big lift (even more than the banana I grabbed).

The way back:

Although three of us arrived at half point, one of the others powered on and I couldn't keep up and the third runner fell behind me.  So most of the way back I ran by myself, with the field now well and truly spread out.  I started to slow a lot, walking most uphills and running flats and downhills.  The occasional hound passing provided amusement by realising how slow I was actually running.  Maybe I should just walk fast.
But I made it back in just under 6 hours 30 minutes, powered by awesome company, endless cups of Endure, Coke and 5 large bananas (which reminds me to better check my family tree).

As always Kerrie was there at the finish line and looking after me.

Thanks to the organisers, it was a great day, with awesome people and I felt that I had some more left in the tank.  So, bring it on.

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