STS 21k Manly Dam

Finally. My first trail race of 2016!

Somehow I have made it to mid March without a trail race, between going away at Christmas and Husky Long Course tri there wasn’t much of an opportunity since I wasn’t racing Six Foot this year. Part of it was also deliberate, making sure all my effort is focussed on reaching my best in June for Ultratrail Lavaredo. That build starts in earnest now.

Last year I raced a lot through to UTA100 (North Face 100) and trying to peak too many times I think took its toll so my goal this year is to use each race as a stepping stone to the next, learning where I am strong and weak and where I need to focus my training as well as smartly increasing distance to manage fatigue.

But back to the race…

Sydney Trail Series races through summer at Manly Dam which is right in my backyard and my primary training ground. You can read my report from last years 20k run here. The 21k course is identical with the only addition being a 1.6k out and back along the road at the start to thin the field out prior to the single track. This is a welcome addition and works well. Good work STS.

Racing on familiar trails presents a bit of a strange experience. On one hand you know what to expect the entire way along the course but on the other hand it can be incredibly frustrating when you know what pace you normally do in training on certain sections and wonder why you cant replicate it in the race.

My race was a bit of a mixed bag. Strava’s effort comparison tool captures much of it but misses a couple of thing. Basically I was strong everywhere but going uphill. I perceived this most on the Curl Curl track stairs but the comparison shows me loosing some 3 minutes coming out of Bantry Bay up to the Bluff although I didn’t feel like I blew up at all. I guess I was just a little bit too restrained on this sector.

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Most surprisingly I was actually AHEAD of my best by some 45 seconds at the halfway mark.

In the end I finished in 2:05:14 for 19th/114 and 9th in AG. It was also my second best time on the old course segment on Strava (from 3 attempts). All up a satisfactory result. In some areas better than my expectations. I have to focus on my climbing – both running and walking.

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Next stop is the Buffalo Stampede Sky Marathon and the following weekend, Mt Solitary Ultra (yeah I know I said I wouldn’t repeat last years suffering but I believe the combo contributed significantly to my UTA100 performance so I felt obliged to replicate it.

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