Falling apart at Solitary
I had a free entry to the Running Wild Mt Solitary run this year after placing 3rd in the event last year. Both years it’s only fallen a week after Buffalo Stampede so I have not really been at my best, and possibly at my worst. But I figured, free entry, super pretty run, I like running, I like racing, at least I should have fun. I left home at 3:30am on Sunday morning for the 2 ½ hour drive up the mountains, this event as with all Running Wild events was well planned out, parking was easy and I had no issues with the gear check or picking up my race pack. There were a few other Trotters up there running, plus a lot of random runners that I’d met at past events or even at Buffalo the previous week (but no Grand Slammers) so I had plenty of people to chat to.
Then it was time to race/run. I nestled somewhere into the middle of the pack start and it was a very fast start as the course quickly turned into a steep descent down Kedumba. My legs were not really over the trauma of last week’s downhills, so I just let them tick it over. It’s actually rather interesting seeing what running skills recover the fastest after a race, for me my downhill ability is terrible and technical downhill even worse, I just can’t seem to go with the flow and all my movements seem so awkward and unnatural so as soon as the course left the fire trail and turned into technical single trail downhill I realised that I should just get out of the way….
No need to stress about it, I reminded myself that I “was not racing”, so whenever someone came up behind me I just stepped aside and let them go past. No need to clog up the track. This worked fine until we crossed the river and started climbing. Climbing recovers the fastest for me, so I hit that hill hard and had to overtake most of the people again. All good, I was actually enjoying the climb, and I liked how I could see Solitary towering above me at different points. Reaching the top I was in a good position and kept it calm as I jogged across the top of the mountain. Past the random campers and hikers, leap frogging with various runners. The only downside was that it was foggy and I didn’t get to see the spectacular views that I got last year.
The descent off Mt Solitary is called the Knife Edge which should give you some idea of what it’s like, which is basically a serrated knife as you drop off the edge of a series of rocks and down the side of the mountain. Personally I like this part, it breaks up the running. Although I did run into some trouble when the leg of my shorts hooked on a rock and my left calf cramped at the same time so I was left dangling by my arms and had to disentangle and go and have a stretch next to the group of scouts who were out hiking.
Off the mountain, I really like this next part of track, it’s single trail but less technical and is pretty fast to run as it heads towards scenic world and the big Blue Mountains cliffs tower up above. I also had the amusing site of seeing another runner wipe himself out on a vine that caught him under the nose… He was fine, it just looked very funny. Hitting the bottom of Furber Steps I started to have flashbacks to TNF100 the year before when I thought they’d never end… They were much easier today. I hiked up the stairs, running the flat bits and into the aid station up the top for a gear check, some coke & water. Then it was straight back down the stairs and onto the trail.
My right leg had started to muck up at this stage and my left calf had not gotten over its earlier cramping so my speed was kind of shit and the downhills were just painful. Pretty much my whole right leg was locking up, my ITB hurt and there was some other weird pain under the front of my knee, then my quads would say “no”. I was really, really hoping the downhill would end, but in the meantime I gritted my teeth and told my leg to just “keep moving, the uphill is coming”. It was such a relief when I hit the last aid station and knew it was all uphill from here to the finish. I really enjoyed that uphill. It was a mix of hiking and running (mostly hiking) and I found a nice stick that I snapped to a good hiking length and set off up Kedumba. Plus it was nice to talk to a few other runners as we hiked up the hill. Reaching the top I ran the last couple of K’s into the finish line and surprisingly came 4th…. This is great because that’s also 1st in my age category, which means another wine glass to add to the collection.
As always the event was brilliantly put together with a well-marked course, great volunteers and a fun event. I just hope that one day I can do a Running Wild event while I’m fresh….