Is there a better way to start marathon day eve than by running Australia’s hardest parkrun? Probably, but that’s what I did last Saturday:
After getting myself around the hilly Blackbutt course in 25:51 and fuelling up on a big carb-filled lunch, I drove for 4 hours to get to Mudgee, for the 13th edition of the Mudgee Running Festival on Sunday. 53 finishers in the marathon meant it was the biggest event to date.
It was a cold morning, I had to scrape the frost off my windscreen so that I could see to drive myself to the start line. My car told me that it was 4 degrees outside, but it surely felt colder than that. I managed to convince myself to take my tracksuit pants off, but couldn’t bear the thought of parting with my jumper. I would hope for bag check.
I missed the race briefing due to a long toilet queue. By the time I made it to the marshalling area, the runners were already starting to move! No time to find bag check. I heard somebody say there would be somewhere to leave our jumpers around the 3km mark, if we were happy to sort through the pile at the finish line, so I decided to keep my jumper on until then. The start line was a few hundred metres from the finish line. The half marathon and marathon runners took their places in the street, and soon enough, the runners were away. As usual in these small community marathons, I was happy to start at the back of the group and not hurry towards the start line, knowing my time wouldn’t officially start until I crossed the starting mat. But as I moved forward, I saw that there was no starting mat. gun time only! So I took off, trying to keep up with my fellow strider sister Grace and her Mum Leanne. But they were doing the half marathon and were setting a cracking pace, so I only kept up for a few kilometres.
My jumper stayed on until the first water station, at kilometre 4.
At the 9km mark, the half marathoners all started to turn. Suddenly, there were a lot less people. Around 50 people ran in the full marathon.
I found myself running with Ray, the runner who I ran part of the Hunter Valley Marathon with 5 weeks prior. We ran about 10km together in Mudgee. Hunter Valley was Ray’s 159th marathon. Mudgee was his 164th. Do the math… That’s one every weekend! In fact, it turns out he has run 9 marathons in the last 8 weeks. He told me that If I wasn’t careful, I might end up like him! Ray didn’t even do his first marathon until he was in his late Forties. He is planning on doing the Sydney marathon with a group of people in around 3:45, just like me. So I will keep an eye out for him there. Soon, he was ahead of me and I couldn’t keep up anymore.
Knowing that there was a turnaround coming up ahead at some point, I found myself running down a steep downhill section, hoping I was not going to have to run up it again. Then I saw Shayne Falkenmire, a fellow Newcastle runner, charging up the hill. She was lookin strong, and I thought she might be the leading female. Damn, I guess I would be runnng back up that hill.
When I reached the halfway point, it began to feel mighty lonely out there. I did not pass another runner for at least the next 10km. I decided to pull my ipod out, and listen to some music to pass some time. But after only a few songs, I got annoyed with it and turned it off. Looks like I have well and truly broken my music habit.
The last 10km were pretty uneventful too, I passed a few runners, including 2 girls, and only 1 runner passed me. The course was a mix of grass, dirt road, gravel and clay, but mostly paved road. As I rounded the final corner under the bridge into the park heading towards the finish line, It was nice to see Grace and her family standing there cheering for me. I crossed in 3 hours 44 minutes 21 seconds, marathon #8 complete! It was nice to have my friend Cade meet me at the finish line too. He lives in Mudgee.
Male Winner: Dani Andres 2:51:52
Female Winner : Shayne Falkenmire 3:18:19
RACE DAY STATS:
Time – 3:44:21
Fastest Km – 4:43 (km 1)
Slowest Km – 6:22 (km 15)
Average Pace – 5:21 min/km
Fuel – 3 Gu gels (8km, 19 km and 29km) 200ml gatorade and a few dextrose tablets
Outfit of choice – Asics Skyspeed shoes, Experia Socks, Lululemon Dart n Dash short and Free to Be top in pink, Zensah calf sleeves and arm warmers, Night Strider sun visor and Nike Hydration Belt.
Surface: Mixed, mostly country road with dirt, clay, grass and gravel
Weather – Fine and clear. Cool morning