|The Great Alpine Road, leading up to 'the Cross', I swear it's steeper in person|
It’s interesting looking back on this race, as it’s a bit of an oddity. Here I am finding out about this race and a whole bunch of different distance trail races that were on the day before, and I decided to do a road race? That’s weird Daniel; you’re not called the ‘Road Running Novice’. There was a reason behind the madness though, getting a PB and finally breaking the 1.30 mark, taking me from an alright runner, to a pretty good runner, and potentially telling me I can run a sub 3-hr marathon next year. With the Great Alpine Road Half-Marathon being the inaugural race this year, details on elevation were slim but what I did know at the time of entering was this. Starts at the top of Mt Hotham, runs ‘down’ to Blowhard Hut in about 5km’s, turns around and heads back up to Mt Hotham, then runs ‘down’ to Dinner Plain. That to me sounded like the perfect event, running downhill more than uphill, this will give me the best chance possible to crack that magic barrier. Not quite…😕
3 Sale and District Runners left Sale on Saturday afternoon for this race; Mel (enthusiastic support crew), Brad and myself (both running the half). The trip up to Dinner Plain was stunning, especially the part between Bruthen and Dinner Plain. The highlight was a lookout over to Mt Kosciusko, with the visibility being amazing; we could see the snow on its peak, which was pretty cool. (haha get it?)
|The iPhone camera isn't as good as the human eye unfortunately, still, it hints at view from the lookout|
After we got up to Hotel High Plains and unpacked, we all went for a shakeout run around the Montane Loop, and this short 2km loop already showed how beautiful the trails were around Dinner Plain. This made me a bit jealous of Lucy Bartholomew who got to play on these trails for the entire week leading up to the weekend. One thing we all noticed at the end of the run though was how we were more out of breath then we should have been. The effects of being 1600m high were starting to show.
Shakeout complete, we set off in the car for a reccy of the course to find out what we were in for. One thing we noticed immediately is that the bit between Hotham and Dinner Plain was undulating, not straight up. Running down from Hotham was going to be harder then first expected. Once we reached the start line at the Mt Hotham main car park and started to head ‘down’ to Blowhard Hut we noticed one thing immediately, we weren’t going down, we were heading up. In fact we had to climb almost 100m over the next 2km before we finally reached the highest point of the climb, ‘the Cross’. From there though it was practically all downhill to Blowhard Hut, with one of those km’s losing about 150m. Fun to run down, not so fun to run back up again. That was when Brad and I realised the enormity of the task ahead of us, and when I knew that getting a PB was well and truly out of reach.
|A magazine with a view|
On the way back from Blowhard Hut we stopped multiple times to grab some happy snaps and to just enjoy ourselves. Seeing the high country in Spring was something to behold, and we couldn’t resist the opportunity to take some Insta-worthy photos. Once back at Dinner Plain the stomachs were grumbling, and we went to find some food. Our first choice was the local brewery, ‘Blizzard Brewing Company’, only to find it had just closed upon our arrival. Dammit! We were told that the local pubs stocked it, so off we went, stomachs still rumbling for food and good beer. We made a pit stop at the place where we were staying for the beer, where I had Blizzard’s IPA, which was good, but not dinner as they were booked out. This meant there was only one place left that was open for dinner, where I ended up having a schnitzel and another one of Blizzard’s beers, this time the Amber Ale. Stomach’s filled with good beer and food it was off to bed early in preparation for the day ahead.
|My second favourite type of beer, and a good version of it too!|
|The IPA, my current favourite type of beer and the only thing wrong with this one is that I couldn't drink more of it 😂|
|One of the dogs at the hotel, enjoying the sunshine while we were enjoying our beers!|
Going to bed early did me no favours though; I had one of the worst sleeps in my entire life! The room was hot and stuffy, and with the breeze going in the wrong direction opening the window didn’t help. I also had a case of extreme pre-race nerves. It was bizarre. I knew I wasn’t going to get a PB and I told myself to just enjoy the experience, but my heart rate was through the roof. I had no idea what was going on, and I had to use every relaxing technique I knew to try and get my HR under control, which didn’t really work. All this added up to me waking up on race day morning feeling a lot more tired than I usually am before any race. I still don't know what quite happened that night.
Anyways, the alarm went off 2 hours before the race was meant to begin, and I went through my usual race routine, which meant that by the time we jumped on bus to head up to the start line I was good to go. Except good ol’ traffic management was late, which was handy as public liability meant we couldn't run on the road until some cones and signs were set up. Just brilliant. Our 7am race start became 7.30am, and this meant that by the time we set off some of the marathoners had passed us (they did an out and back course from Dinner Plain, and were allowed to start at their normal start time due to a car driving behind them with their hazards on).
Knowing what I was in for I started out fairly conservatively, but still built a bit of a lead on the rest of runners by the ‘the Cross’ 2k’s in, and really let go on the other side clocking a 3.30 minute k for my 3rd km, which was so much fun to run down!
It was on this downhill that I caught the 2nd and 3rd placed marathoners and by the time I reached Blowhard Hut, I was feeling great. Even on the way back to the main Mt Hotham car park I was in good spirits, an amazing view out onto the Razorback and Mt Feathertop on my left and the km’s were slowly ticking away. I didn’t even have to walk up the hill at all, which I was stoked with considering it reached a gradient of 25% in some areas (according to Strava).
By the time I reached the halfway point I couldn’t see my nearest competitor behind me and I felt as if the time and distance went by in the blink of an eye, which I think was due wholly to the scenery I was running through. And with the hardest part behind me I thought I was in for a chance of breaking 1.40, but how things can turn around so quickly. But first a bit of backstory.
1 week before this race I went for my longest run ever (4.5 hours) and my right side of my right foot started to hurt 2 hours in. I took a break from running to try and let it heal, by the Friday before the race, no pain and I thought I would be good to go for this half-marathon. Back to the race…
At 12km’s I felt a blister starting to form on the left side of my left foot, but as it was early stages I was able to run through it fairly easily. At 14km my right side of my right foot started to hurt again, and by this point the blister had well and truly formed and was seriously starting to hurt. Not to mention the fact that the sun was beating straight down onto all of us runners, with no shade whatsoever, raising the road temp to what I reckon could’ve easily been close to 30 degrees. These 3 factors had their toll on me and made it very hard for me to continue. The only things that kept me going were the constant sips on the Trail Brew, a pristine flow of water at the 15km point which I was able to have a long drink from and dip my hat into, and just seeing another human being in the form of the aid station guy at 16km, who gave me some more icy cold water. By this point I hadn’t stopped to walk, only to grab water, which I was pretty proud of. But then another thing happened, my gut troubles returned. After having a flawless ‘4 Peaks’ race I had optimistically hoped it might be gone for good, obviously not because at 17km’s it struck again. The 4 factors of the sun, my blister, my hurting right foot and my gut forced me to a short walk 3 times in the next 3km’s, which meant I was constantly looking over my shoulder to try and see 2nd place, and not enjoying the moment of being in the mountains. It sucked, but I somehow managed to convince myself to run the entire last km and stumbled across the line with Mel cheering me on in my first ever overall win! I don’t think I’d ever been so happy to see a finish line in my entire life! As soon as I could walk again I took myself straight over to first aid and got my blister covered in Band-Aids, and unfortunately wasn’t directly at the finish line to congratulate Brad on finishing, but at least I was able to see him cross the line and I hope he was able to hear me yelling my support from across the lawn.
I ended up running 1.49.25 which I’m not all that happy
with, but I am super happy with finishing what I think is Australia’s toughest
road Half-Marathon. Everyone who ran this race (and those crazies that ran the
full) should be super proud of their efforts on just completing it. However;
huge kudos to those select few who ran a trail race on the Saturday and then
backed it up with running a road race on the Sunday. That is something that I
certainly look up to, and something I will hopefully be doing in the next few
|Elevation and pace profile of the Half Marathon race|
P.S Saw the physio and have figured what’s going on with my foot. The trail I did my 4.5 hour run on was slightly off centred, probably allowing water to more easily flow off it. Anyway, my right arch is slightly higher then my left arch and when running on this trail I was rolling in on my right foot more than usual to help me stay balanced, this collapses the right arch causing pain in the right side of my right foot. When running on it for short periods of time it causes no pain, but when running on it for longer the niggle becomes more exemplified. My body must’ve over compensated with my left foot during the race. Causing the blister that I never would’ve thought I would get, with shoes I have never had issues with before. The solution? Arch support for when I go for those longer runs.
|blister covered in band-aids, probably better then a photo of my blister itself hahah|