(I’m #831 in the title picture wearing a red shirt and black hat)
Photos by Handy Trisakti
I have been planning for a while to put in a good focussed effort at trail running being especially keen on skyrunning type events. Having already entered the Bogong to Hotham and Buffalo Stampede SkyMarathon in 2015 both of which feature BIG climbs, I really needed some experience on big climbs and the local climbs around Manly Dam and Bantry Bay don’t get much over 100m or so.
The Kedumba Half was a great opportunity to start to get that experience. The run itself starts at the top of the Blue Mountains descends about 700m over 10.5km before turning and heading back to the start in reverse.
The race is put on by Running Wild, who I joined before entering, and was run just right. Just the right number of entrants, right number of volunteers, right number of aid stations, right amount of facilities… etc. The whole thing had a great friendly atmosphere kind of like Parkrun but with everyone knowing what was about to happen would be much harder.
The race actually starts with a slight uphill. An infact there are a few other uphills on the way down but, for the most part the Kedumba firetail heads downhill between the grades of comfortably steep and really steep. It is a great spot to set a 10k pb, although I didn’t (I did a 2nd best).
At about 3k my shoes (Salomon S-Lab Sense 3 SG) started to feel like they had picked up a couple of stones. This discomfort moved around a bit and slowly got worse. Not long after 5k I decided to stop and try and clear out any debris. There didn’t seem to be any so I put my shoe back on and pushed on. By about 6k things started to feel bad again and so I modified my stride a little which very quickly started to burn my quads. I tried to manage things as carefully a possible to ensure the return leg would not be a disaster. I pushed on through the decent and before long the front runners were passing me on the way back up. I guess they were about 1k ahead of me. Shortly after I entered the Kedumba clearing and crossed the river where the turning cone was located about 10m past. Crossing the river again I filled my hat with cold water and put it on ready to tackle the uphill.
And Back Up
I had really had a good think about the size of the hill as I drove up to the start before the race. All the altitude I was gaining in the car I was soon to repeat on foot after just loosing it all running down.
With no big hill experience I had no sense of how hard to push so rather that go as hard a possible I figured I would try to match the movements of the people ahead and walk when they walked and then try to run a little earlier knowing I usually am OK at hills. This strategy worked well and I feel like I gained more positions than I lost on the climb out. After a particularly tough km I arrived at the 5k aid station (or 15k given I was now heading back up) and filled my drinks. At this point I really started to notice my heels hurting. Even though I had not really used them for the last 30mins or so the pain was there. The next 2k and some reasonable runnable sections and at one point I felt a big squish and pop in my left foot. This would good and bad. It hurt even more but at least I could return to more normal running. The trail flattens right out with about 2k to go and things start to feel really positive and even though I had to accept that sub 2hrs wasn’t on the cards for today I could at least look forward to staying under 6m/km pace.
(Thats me in the background!)
The trail of course had one last bite inside the last km with a solid final hill on tired legs before what was an uphill start became a downhill finish. My final (unofficial time) was 2:04:47.
I had averaged better than 6min/km. 12 months ago that pace was a good effort for me around Manly Dam so overall it is a good outcome with plenty of important experience bagged. Next year I will return with the knowledge of how to tackle big hills and the confidence to attack more.
In short an awesome event. The whole thing. I plan to do more Running Wild events this year and have already entered the Mt Solitary Ultra (1 week after the Buffalo Sky Marathon !!!)
My heal problems turned out to be socks bunching up and both feet ended up with major (really major whole of the ball of my heal on the left side) heal blisters. I need to get this sorted out urgently before longer events. This means finding a new sock type. My previous favourite Injinji having now let me down twice in races is destined for retirement.