It was a long day. A long but awesome day.
At the start for 7:30am, coffee and dry gear in hand, the Hoodlet and I checked in at Auburn and suited up. We were on the bus for 8:30am and dropped off for the 250m hike in to the start.
The atmosphere on the bus was subdued, mostly nervous energy. Except me. I was giddy energy. We were dropped off at a secret location at the side of the road and hiked in.
A tree was selected for the start line and a line was drawn in the dirt. We counted down: five, four, three, two, one, go! And so started what proved to be the flattest five km of the entire race… It wasn’t but fresh legs! Endorphins! Optimism!
As we progressed, the trail became more and more technical. And more hilly. At one point we were hiking up a narrow ridge, with a long, muddy fall to either side. Three points of contact were necessary in a few cases with the slick fallen leaves and rocks and smattering of rain. Oh, and tired legs.
At least three hills were big and bad enough to have names. I cursed at them. One descent had the narrowest slippery stairs; another had a guide wire wrapped in a garden hose. There were a few stream crossings where I cooled my blister off. (Martin the Blister was care of the new trail shoes I wore… such a rookie move but glad I made that decision because trying to do this run without trail shoes would have been nuts.) Plenty of wet leaves, mud, roots and rocks littered the single track trail. This technically challenging section comprised the middle third of the race.
The final third included less demanding road and trail sections but they all seemed to be uphill!
I felt pretty good through 12.5km. By 17km, my wheels were starting to fall off. By 19km I think I might have gladly accepted a ride home had I been offered one, especially after we ran through an actual field of shit.
The Maitland Trail is very well blazed and The Bad Thing race directors also flagged turns. Pretty straightforward but we still managed to lose the trail once, missing a 90° right turn but a 50km runner waved us back to the trail.
In the final kilometre we got to wade through the very chilly Maitland River which was very welcome to cool off Martin the Blister, but unwelcome in that I was really regretting carrying my phone if my legs suddenly cramped and I went down. I survived, upright.
- A single long run of 12km, on the road, several weeks before the race is nowhere near enough training.
- This race is way harder than Run For The Toad. Treat it with respect.
- Carrying a hand bottle is a bad idea. You need your hands for catching falls, pulling yourself up hills and wiping the tears and snot from your face.
- Running with your sister is the best.
Working so long and hard and sharing the experience with your sister is awesome. I love you, Kiddo! Thanks for indulging my crazy and muling my out of shape ass through the last 15km!
I’ll be back next year.