I heard about the Carcoar Cup on the Coolrunning forums from some of the Western Sydney Marathon runners who were heading out there to race it and it seemed like a great excuse for a weekend of running and camping. Carcoar is a tiny little town about 30 minutes outside of Orange that appears to exist in the century before last, there's not a whole lot there besides the pub, but it was a pretty decent pub which did a tasty pre-race pasta dinner.
We had a slight hiccup the day before the race which had us on the side of the Mid Western Hwy with a flat tyre after doing a driving tour of the course. Darren Mclellan stopped to see if we needed assistance, but the NRMA was already on the way and I was soon in possession of a car with a space saver tyre on it that would not be getting us the 300kms home, but I would deal with that after the race.
The race started at 8:00am from the main street in Carcoar and it was freezing, I was keen to start running just to warm up, the initial part of the course crossed the bridge and was a pretty steady climb out of town for the first 11kms, I kept it pretty calm for this initial climb and watched as the race leader slipped away. I wasn't keen to chase her, she was unbeaten in this race and I knew that there was Mt Macquarie in the later half that I'd need to save myself for. After the climb the race was undulating, with views over the surrounding farmland, cows, random country folk watching and cheering the race from the side of the road, an abundance of drink stops and a mix of dirt and gravel road, pretty easy running and with the field spread out I just rolled along keeping a steady pace.
The halfway point was marked by a tour of Neville, an even smaller country town then Carcoar (but it also has a pub), This was also the the starting point of the half marathon so there were lots of people out to see the race and cheer on the runners, we ran maybe a km or so down the main street of Neville, then onto a back street, before turning and coming back up the main road. I could see the female race leader had a bit over a km on me and she was looking good. I was the same distance in front of the third place female and fourth was only a couple of hundred metres behind her.
I was feeling fine and was past the halfway mark so it was time to step it up and see what happened, I could see Mt Macquarie getting closer as I raced out of Neville and back onto the main road. With the faster pace I started running down the guys who'd been in front of me as we past the last drink stop before the mountain, then it was climbing. Not crazy walking pace climbing, more like the Middle Ridge Road out of Palmdale climbing, steep but completely runable, my sort of climbing. I powered up the rough road into the logging forest and 2kms later I was greeted by a drink stop and told that I'd made it to the top, I was a bit disappointed, I really thought the hill with the tyre puncturing rocks seemed steeper and longer, I overestimated it. I would have liked to admire the view from the top more, but it was racing time and all downhill into Carcoar. The downhill was harder then the uphill and I bruised my foot on one of the giant rocks as I raced down the other side of the mountain, then it was onto the flat and back towards the cheering crowd on the main street of Carcoar and into second place in a time of 3:20.
The rest of the afternoon was spent hanging around Carcoar waiting for the presentation with the totally awesome custom made pottery trophies (I got a bowl), I don't think the town gets busy very often and the pub was doing a roaring trade with the finish line conveniently located out the front. Without a viable way home Sunday night was spent chilling out and camping by Carcoar Dam before we mad it into the Blayney on the Monday morning, got a new tyre and were able to drive home.
Carcoar is definitely a race I am looking at doing again next year, the community atmosphere was fantastic, the course was my sort of road race (with a mix of dirt and hills) and there's an unbeaten female runner, perfect!
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