Will Thames

swim, bike, run, tech

Race Report: Glasshouse 100km

After repacking my drop bags the night before, I went to bed a little after 10pm, with my phone telling me the alarm was due to go off in less than six hours. But at least what sleep I had was sound, and at 3:45am my alarm went off and I got up and dressed, had breakfast, woke Peta as I was dropping her off for some pre-dawn photography, and was ready to leave as planned at 4:15.

After I’d said goodbye to Peta and dropped her off, the drive to Beerburrum for the start of the race was pretty uneventful, and I was there by 5am, ready to register, weigh in, drop my drop bags in the appropriate spot and then hang out with my running friends before the start.

There was an impromptu Brisbane Trail runner photo that we had so much fun with that we completely missed the countdown to the start, and the first we knew was that everyone had started running! Oh well, a couple of seconds didn’t make any difference over the course of the day.

For a brief period we had our Kokoda team all together in one spot, with Loz entering the full 100 mile race and the other three of us doing the 100km. I wonder how many Kokoda teams have all four members complete both Kokoda and Glasshouse 100.

The next couple of hours went really well. At times I found other people’s energy levels a bit overwhelming — I love the peace and quiet of trail running and loud enthusiastic conversation about NRL is not my thing at 6am! I quickly found my own space, and then Brad and I ran together for a good while — we know each other well enough that I can run with Brad for as long as I can keep up! Up to the top of Beerburrum — perhaps the steepest concrete path I’ve ever walked, with great views out to the Mooloolaba coast and to the surrounding hills. I lost Brad for a bit as he went for it downhill, but caught up with him as we arrived at Checkpoint 3 together and he let me lead the pace for a while. We stayed together pretty much to Checkpoint 4, at which point Brad said “I’m going to push on through this one, I’ll see you later”. I had a 5 minute stop refilling bottles and sorting my stuff out, and that was the last I saw of Brad until the end!

Things got trickier from here as we ascended the back of the Glass Mountains Lookout hill - but it wasn’t as bad as I remember it from the last couple of years 50km races and it wasn’t long before I arrived at Checkpoint 5. A quick top up of my camelbak and then onwards to the Cauldron. Not quite sure how it went so badly, for some reason I recall thinking I’d overestimated it the last couple of times I’d done it but this time I must have underestimated it — it seemed to go on forever, down the valleys and back up the other side, and each time I thought I must be nearly done, but no, more yet. Finally I escaped, feeling pretty tired, and I don’t think I ran many continuous kilometres from here on in. The day was heating up, although it wasn’t yet 10am, and that definitely didn’t help.

The next sections were fairly exposed — long fire trails reaching out into the distance. I thought these might be the infamous powerlines, but they were actually a little later. They still went on for quite a while! Checkpoint 6 was the half way point by my watch and I made it in 6:15. I had hopes at this point that I wouldn’t be muc slower in the second half, and that thirteen hours might still be on the cards.

Things didn’t get any better for a couple of hours really — the dirt bikes and 4x4s really did my head in when we crossed paths (again, I like the peace and tranquility of trail running). Some of the 4x4s just before the powerlines sections were idiots — they knew we were coming and still set off down the hills we were coming up. Still, we escaped unscathed. I don’t remember much about the powerlines other than it seeming quite a long way when looking out over it. It didn’t seem too bad, but I seem to have forgotten most of it!

After a quick stop at Checkpoint 8 (checkpoint 7 comes later) it was onto the 8 west loop. I was struggling to maintain any kind of pace even going downhill, but at least I kept moving, and drinking. As I finished the lumpy part and moved onto the rail trail, I started to build up a bit more momentum and here my run walk strategy started in earnest, as I realised that maintaining 7km/h would keep me under 14 hours and 8km/h would get me in nearer to 13. My goal with each km was to aim for under 7:30. This meant that I would happily walk for a bit if I was doing 9km/h and keep running.

One excellent piece of advice I read recently was to ask yourself honestly ‘would it be any more difficult to run?’. A lot of the time I was walking, it was because I was struggling to keep within my limits — elevated heart rate and heavy breathing rapidly told me to slow down, often after as little as 200m of running. As the day went on and it got cooler, that distance between running got shorter and the runs became longer. But asking that question regularly meant that I started running again sooner than I perhaps might if I hadn’t considered it. And later, some of my blisters meant that it was actually less painful to run than to walk!

After the long climb back up to Checkpoint 8, I refilled my camelbak with ice and water, and topped up my flasks, and headed onwards. A nice downhill section meant some sub-6 minute kms, the first for hours, and then half a dozen easy flat kms to Checkpoint 7. At some point on this section I bumped into Elmer for the first time since the start. He was struggling a little with ITB problems, but he was keeping positive and staying strong. I was sorry to see him suffering but his spirit was good. We chatted a little and then I pushed on as I was feeling stronger and stronger. I had a longer stop at this checkpoint to change socks, put on blister plasters and get some more ice in my camelbak. I probably loaded a bit too much for a 5km loop, but it seemed necessary. I did have the presence of mind to leave some of kit behind at least.

After a few hundred metres I saw Elmer ahead of me again as he’d had a much more efficient stop, but it took an age to catch him again. When I finally caught him I said he was looking much stronger — he’d left his pack at the checkpoint and was just carrying water — a wise move. We chatted a bit more and then I pushed on once more, feeling great.

The finish of the 7 loop was my last opportunity to raid my drop bag and refill everything ready for the 24km push to the finish — from here I didn’t want to have to refill anything if need be. The route back to checkpoint 5 took in some of the sections I found so tricky earlier — the 4x4 tracks and the long exposed fire trails, but the cloud cover was good and I managed to maintain my planned 8km/h. At checkpoint 6 I had a cup of coke (I’d had at least one cup of coke for the past 5 stops I think!). After checkpoint 5 it was looking like I’d be done in 12h45. Peta was coming by train to collect me based on me finishing in 14 hours, so I rang her to let her know that I should be finished early and to not worry about coming up. All the raspberry (caffienated) tailwind that I’d been drinking for half the day might have helped too — I felt very much awake.

I thoroughly enjoyed 89km-95km — the long downhill on the road from the Glasshouse Mountains lookout, then the gentle downhill fire trail to the bottom of Tibberoowuccan, it was all so runnable. Kilometre 90 was the first sub-6 km since 62. Again, just a matter of maintaining a sensible pace where possible — not overdoing it even on the easier stuff, but not wanting to waste time either. Especially as it was getting darker now.

I wasn’t really too sure what the last section was. On the 50km race, we’d always done the Trachyte circuit as the last 5km, and I thought it might be that, but the end of the 100km is the same as the first 5km but in reverse. Much easier to run, but less interesting. I got a bit confused in spite of the fact that the route is basically running along a path next to the Steve Irwin Way, but there were no obvious route markers. With it being dark I wasn’t 100% sure I was on the right track, and I hadn’t seen any of the posts I remembered from the way out. Indeed I started running back the other way, convinced I must have gone wrong. Luckily I quickly bumped into runners and I asked them if this was the right way, they confirmed it was, and shortly after that I saw the posts, and more runners coming the other way — I was so close to not having had to run the wrong way!

A bit more walking and one of the two runners that I’d bumped into had enough left to finish very strongly, the other overtook me — I said well done, and he said ‘not much left now’ or words to that effect and I thought ‘he’s right, let’s just do this’ and with that I took off up the hill, over the bridge over the railway, past the park and into the school to clapping and cheers and it was done. My third 100km race of 2014, in the official time of 12:36:00.

Geoff and Trish helped me to find the hot drinks (I made myself ultra tea in my new finishers mug — only one more colour for me to collect now) and then I caught up with Brad who’d had a fantastic run to finish in 12:11, running with Trish for the latter 50km in her first ever trail race, where she was second female! I was happy with my 21st place overall. I felt that I triumped by running to the conditions in the middle third. My central governor system wouldn’t let me run hard, and that probably saved me and allowed me to run well for the final third.

I had to leave in the end without one of my drop bags, so thanks to Chrissy for picking it up for me.

It’s now Wednesday and I had my first run since Saturday — 11km on Sandgate foreshore, which felt reasonable. Considering doing Twilight Bay 10km on Saturday — not sure I’ll do a PB but it’s my only remaining chance to try in 2014!