The Mudgee Marathon was on 2 weeks ago.
On Saturday morning I packed my bags, and then headed off to Parkrun. It was a gorgeous, sunny, warm day. I was supposed to be heading out by myself, but when I got home from parkrun Rich had decided that he would come out too. He had not entered, and couldn’t do so on Sunday morning, so we had to get out there before rego ended at 5pm.
We headed in to Newcastle baths so Rich could have a quick dip… very quick – It may feel warm in the sun, but it’s still winter! Then we hit the road to Mudgee. We arrived just before rego closed. I picked up my number and Rich got a last minute entry for the marathon. After that, we went to the Irish Pub for dinner and a glass of wine, and headed home to bed.
About 4am I was woken by a raging thunderstorm outside. There was thunder, lightning, and wind. I thought to myself, “We have driven out here for nothing. It’s going to be called off. There’s no way they will make us run in this weather”. But by the time my alarm went off at 5.30am, the worst of it had passed.
Rich and I headed to the start line. By now it was overcast, but not raining. We listened to the race briefing, and headed to the start line.
Last year at this event, I had come first, in a time of 3:26. This year, in the lead up to the race I had been sick. I’d had over a week off running. In the 10 days prior to Mudgee, I had run a cumulative total of 13km. I didn’t have high expectations.
The half and full marathons start together. As the runners all took off, I had no idea who was running what. There were 4 or 5 girls in front of me, but I had no idea what position I was in. It didn’t take long for Richard to get out of sight.
My first 6 0r 7 km felt good, averaging around 4:45 pace. At the 7.5km mark, the half marathoners turned, and the marathoners continued ahead. At this point, I was the second girl.
After this, the loooong uphill section started, and continued for about 5km. My pace dropped rapidly. Kilometre 16 took 6.18. I reached the top of the hill, and ran down the other side. On this little out and back section, I didn’t see Richard, so he must have been a long way ahead.
I turned the cone, and headed back up the hill again. I cheered on all the others running down. There was a drink station at the top, so I had a gel, and then continued on, downhill again, in another direction.
It started to get lonely out there again. For the next 7 or 8km I passed no-one, and no one passed me. The rain was really coming down now. Many of the roads were dirt, and the rain made them slippery. It was pretty miserable.
As my watch beeped that I had made it to the 26km mark, I passed a cone that said 27km. I thought it must have been placed in the wrong spot, as my watch would not be out by a kilometre.
Soon after, A lady in a ute drove past me and told me that the turnaround hat had been put down 500m early, effectively cutting off 1km of the course. Well… that made sense! She said we would do an extra loop of the park at the end.
Over the next few kilometres I passed a couple of other runners. The leading girl was well ahead of me and way out of sight. I thought back to what happened last year… I was in second place and the leading girl was a long way in front of me… but she ran out of puff in the end and I passed her with only about 5km to go.
I was still recovering from being sick and I was starting to fade fast, but I tried to keep up the pace, knowing that anything could happen.
On the next downhill section another girl passed me, pushing me back into third. She came up so fast and passed me so quickly that I thought she must have missed the start of the race and was trying to play catch up! There wasn’t too long until the end, and on a good day I would have reacted and tried to go with her… But I was not having a good day.
This race was much harder than I remembered from last year! Maybe the weather was getting me down, or maybe I was sicker than I thought I was. My calves were aching more than they had in a long time, and I couldn’t wait for this race to be over.
The second placed girl stayed in my sights until the end, but I wasn’t reeling her in. As I reached the park, I was directed by the marshals on where to go, and as I approached the finishing chute, stuck to the gravel path and continued around for my second lap of the part. By the end, I measured almost spot-on 42.2km, and crossed the line in 3:36, 10 minutes slower than last year. I was not happy with my time or how hard it felt, but I was very happy that I had scraped onto the podium, and only a minute behind second place.
Rich had not had his best run either (on no training and a last minute entry) and had finished in 6th place.
Because of the bad weather and my lack of warm clothing, we decided not to stick around for the presentation. Thanks to Mim for bringing my wine back to Newcastle for me!
I want to congratulate the organising committee of the race for realising that there was a problem, thinking on their feet, knowing their distances and coming up with a practical solution for handling the error of runners being turned too early. This is a great small community event run by the local triathlon club, and I look forward to returning again next year to do it all again.