by Richelle Olsen - slow runner, hiker and outdoorsy-type
Wow, so do I have PLENTY to say about the GORGEous trails we were subjected to for Race 2 of the Salomon Trail Running Series. In case you didn't get it, it was at Plenty Gorge, just outside Melbourne.
A week before the race, I put it to my facebook friends “Do I bother forking out the cash for an entry into Salomon Race 2, or just be tight and do my own trail run near home?” After plenty of “Definitely come, I’ll be there”, and “I’ll be there”, “I’ll go if you do”, it was settled….why would I pass up the chance to run with a whole lot of other like-minded trail runners, and my friends? So I entered the medium course, approx. 12km.
Sunday dawned clear, and I was up and out the door in no time. Arrived at Plenty Gorge with ample rego and hang around time, time to catch up with friends both old and new! And before I knew it I’d joined tail end of the buzz of the start line. I love that moment, so much nervous and excited electricity in the air. But no nerves for me, I was just keen to get started (and to get warm!)
I’m a pretty slow runner. I could say I had tired legs, I could say I had and injury, been sick, had a terrible sleep, but no. I’m a slow runner, and I sometimes/often walk, that’s just the way it is! So very quickly I found myself at the back of the pack, enjoying my own personal tour of the Plenty Gorge, following the green ribbon. Well I was kinda enjoying it. At the same time I was berating myself for coming last again, as I’m known to do.
Then, suddenly, mid-negative self-talk, I heard voices, lots of voices! As I shuffled around the corner, I came across a big line up of people waiting for something. “Awwww shucks guys, you didn’t have to wait for me!” I was pretty excited to be back in the pack! Turned out there was a super slippery, steep downhill section, which involved some delicate footwork that was holding everyone up. After a few mins of forced breath catching, we were all off again!
This time I kept a few of the other girls in sight for a while, but before too long I was back on my own personal tour. This was the probably my lowest point. I was hating myself for coming last, my legs were hurting, and I was over it. I seriously contemplated turning off at the short course turnoff. But then I realised that due to their start time, even if I turned there, I’d still be last in the 6km race, as well as dealing with the failure of not finishing what I’d come to do. Nope, theres more glory in coming last in a 12 km than a 6km, I was going to finish what I started!
Then around another corner, lo and behold, another big line up of runners, this time waiting to cross the icy river! Getting involved in the usual banter of how cold it will be, how much fun running in wet runners will be, I mentioned that I’d heard that some softees were known to take their shoes and socks off before they crossed, how silly is that. Another runner looked at me and said “well that’s what I had planned to do” ooops! Foot in mouth!!! I must say that aided by ropes and a big strong man in the middle of the river (his feet must have been iceblocks!), the river crossing was a lot of fun! And to add to my joy, another girl, Kat had come up behind me…I wasn’t last! Wooo! We had a chat climbing the bank on the other side, and as we did so, heard another girly voice crossing the river. What a relief, really not last now!
I kept Kat in my sights till she left the aid station at the top of the big hill, she must have needed water, cause after that she took off! But that was also the “past halfway point” at 6.5kms, so its all downhill from there!! Looking behind me every now and then to see if I could see anyone, on I trotted, knowing that the worst of the hills were done, and I just had to get this thing finished! And as long as I kept going, I wasn’t going to be last!
It was funny that for the last 2kms I would hear the announcements at the finish line, it sounded so close, but was still sooo far! And I had no idea in which direction it was coming from, such was the sound bouncing around the gorge!
As I rounded the corner coming into the finishing straight, I could see the crowd had thinned considerably, but at least they hadn’t taken the finishing arch down! And there was one lone figure standing at the finish line, my friend Meleah! I was soooooooo happy to see her, and that she had waited for me, having finished half an hour earlier! I even mustered up a “fast shuffle” to finish with! So happy!
Even better, as I guzzled down my 4th cup of Nunn hydration, then who shows up? Blyndal! My great mates Bill and Lyndal had hung about to see me too, aww thanks guys!
So I’ve checked the results today, and I see that I was in fact last. Not sure what happened to the girl behind me, maybe she was a much needed figment of my imagination! But you know what I don’t care, cause I beat everyone else who was still on the couch, or tucked up in bed, or struggling with the aftermath of the night before. Cause I had the pride of finishing. I had set a baseline time to beat next year. And I very rightly deserved every moment of my afternoon nap!!!
Thanks to Rapid Ascent for putting on a great trail run, in some awesome surrounds. And to my friends who were with me out there, at the start and at the end, its great to know you were there!!
Shane's an ultra runner and La Sportiva Ambassador, with a taste for adventure, always up for a new and different challenge.