Will Thames

swim, bike, run, tech

Ninth Time’s a Charm — a Marathon on Camp Mountain

It was around Monday that I first considered doing the Camp Mountain marathon on Easter Saturday. We had already planned a family gathering for Saturday lunch time, but I just needed to make pudding, turn up, eat and drink — and I could make the pudding on Good Friday.

I put the word out on Facebook to see if anyone was interested in coming along or doing a more interesting run - the reason for choosing to do 8 circuits of Camp Mountain was that it’s quite a safe trial run - you’re never really more than 2.5kms away from the car, there are people on it (although not as many as I thought - I saw one walker, one group of three mountain bikers and one solo mountain biker!). No-one was up for it but my public statement also makes it harder not to do it!

One of the objects of doing the run was a backpack trial - this was the first time I’ve used my backpack with the full mandatory North Face race kit. I was pleased to find that excluding water, the kit only weighs 2kg, with water, that can go up to 5kg - but I don’t plan to carry more than 2 litres of water at any time.

After a quick breakfast and coffee, I drove over to Camp Mountain and got ready to go, setting off on my run at about 5:55am, with the sun not yet visible behind the hills.

I knew that the day was going to be quite warm - up to 28°C at the hottest point of the day, and I didn’t want to blow up, and so my aim was to start gently and ease into it. Each part of the lap, if I thought I might need to walk it in 7 laps time, I walked on the first lap. Which meant I pretty much walked the first 1.2km. At the top I took a photo on my phone with Brisbane behind (unfortunately my proper camera was out of battery - I hadn’t charged it for a while but it was working the day before - I still lugged it round as practice weight for the rest of the run), used the facilities and then headed onwards on my downward journey to the car, where I changed into sunglasses and hat.

The next seven laps were really quite similar - I only took a photo break at the top of laps 5 and 9 (at the top of 5 I texted Peta with my estimated time of completion - I actually finished quicker than that as the second half was slightly quicker than the first). I was able to run pretty much exactly what I expected to run from the first lap. The hill was surprisingly variable - laps 5 and 6 for example were nearly a minute quicker than lap 2, and I have no explanation for it! By laps 7 and 8 the temperature was probably having an effect, but only on the uphill - the downhill section remained comfortable. Occasionally I had to stop to get rid of the odd stone or twig from my shoes.

However, as the graph below shows (with a row for each of the 8 laps plus the last out and back), the laps were relatively consistent - around 12 minutes for the first km, 8 minutes (unless I stopped at the top) for the second, six and a bit for the third and fourth km (except laps 6 and 8 where I did sub six for both). The fifth km is really variable, as it includes the time taken during any stops at the car to top up my bottles. I was very happy with this consistency, and indeed that my 8th lap was faster than my 2nd.

One of my concerns about the run was that I would not feel motivated to continue, but I never felt like stopping at all. By the time I completed each loop, the long downhill had given me enough recovery time to be ready to start again.

The club record for this (by the only other person to have attempted it) is pretty much bang on six hours and I did 6:15. I don’t know whether I could go 15 minutes quicker with less weight, or whether I’ll ever want to find out!

Graph of time taken per lap, split by km. The last lap is to the top of the hill and back only.