Last Sunday (17th May) saw the running of the annual Chambers Gully Challenge. I had signed up a few weeks ago with Kate knowing full well that it was a hill climb trail race up Mt Lofty. Kate did not realise this.
The race left from Chambers Gully Road at Waterfall Gully Road. The first 3kms are all uphill, the first km being a steady grind, and the next 2km being a hard calf burning ascent. Not so steep that I had to walk, but very close to. As I was running this steep section I was concerned about how Kate would be feeling. Not only was this unlike anything she had ever run...ever, but the air was cold and I was aware she hadn't brought her asthma medication.
It's interesting running a race like this. Only 10kms. I ran 27 kms last week, descending this exact trail. I knew how steep it was but you never really appreciate it until you run up it!
At the top of this grind, the next 5 kms is a beautifully flowy trail called the Wine Shanty Trail. It meanders along the contour of the ridge, providing a nice even running surface and beautiful scenery through Sclerophyll forest. At the end of this 5kms, is the final 2kms which is once again a steep climb to the summit. Given it was a race you always push yourself a bit harder, and I hit the summit in 51mins, about 9 mins faster than I normally run it. The second I hit the top I turned around and ran down to meet Kate.
She was doing really well given her absolute lack of race preparation. I met her as she was about to start the final 2km ascent. I ran it with her, her calves were burning but she persevered and smashed it in 1hr4mins I think. Obviously I was super proud of her achievement and laughed at the fact that she just rocks up and runs a steep as trail race with almost no trail running experience.
This race taught me a lot about trail running. I felt like a total newbie compared to road racing. I have no issues with pacing myself for a road race, however on the trails I had no idea how to tackle the race. Also 10kms is super short for me and I haven't been training for short bursts, and especially not short bursts with this kind of steepness. t also taught me to pay attention. First tail race, first wrong turn! I started chatting to someone and zoned out and once they backed off I continued to run my usual route. Next thing I heard someone yelling at me, I turned around to realise I had overshot the turn off by about 100 meters, and luckily someone had seen me before I went out of sight. I quickly turned around and when I caught up to the other competitor thanked them greatly. That could have really ruined my race!
In the end Kate finished with a 3rd place for her age group, very proud :-) All in all a fun race and I think it has inspired Kate to get out on the trails a bit more.