I feel like I have been saying Spring is here for months now, but seriously, it is Spring!
I know it for sure this time because it is race season! Today was the first race of the Island race series called the Gut Buster trail running series. Each race is held in a different location and offers a 6km or 12km course. The elevation and breakdown of the courses, so far seem to be a best kept secret right until race day.
Today I ran the 12km course at the Western Speedway. Initially I was intimidated by the idea of starting off running on a BMX track, but thankfully with the warm and dry weather we have had it was smooth cruising. The winding course covered a quick 2km start to the loop, before sending us off up into the hills. Literally, up, however I think that 5 peaks has prepared me for trail climbs and I managed to run this climb all THREE loops of the course. The 12km run was 3 loops of the BMX track and trail route. This quickly became the most intimidating racing factor, knowing that whatever I pushed through the first loop I would not only do again, but then do it again a third time. However, I also found mental strength in knowing I never everything (every hill) that would come, and to be honest the climbing was not too crazy compared to what I have seen 5 peaks put in race courses!
The course was well marked, with chalk markers and flags and of course amazing volunteers guiding us at major turning points. It covered some great single track with technical root and rock areas, making for a fun and quick 2km loop through the forest. It was interactive (in the way that running can be) where other runners were visible at certain points through the trees even though they were 1km ahead or behind on the path.
It felt great to get out to a trail race and see the island community. There was a variety of experienced trail runners and newbies who learnt quickly that trails are a different game than roads. Pretty much everyone finished the race with smiles and gathered for the awards and draw prizes and had some good laughs about the climbs and certain parts of the course. As for me, you probably guessed this from the beginning. I finished 2nd in my age category, and the girl in first was way ahead (like 8 minutes) so it wasn’t a close call by any means. Not that it is an excuse, she clearly won, but I have been having some challenges with my calves and experienced the second loop running without any sensation in my feet. This happens from time to time, its not compartment syndrome, and I am seeing a physio, and my body tends to get over itself and by the third lap I was free and back to having two sturdy feet below me! This is just a new and added challenge, as if trails don’t have challenges enough. But, back to the race, overall it was a great start to the season and I look forward to the coming Gut Buster races!