First, thank you all for making the journey this year. We were within one person of filling our permited field of 120, so despite the remote location this race has matured nicely. Of course, the remote location and quality trails are the attraction here, and your word of mouth will help keep us filled in future years. Don’t worry though; past entrants will get early notice, before entries open in early July 2013.
It really was hot wasn’t it! – but I just missed snow at Mulligans by two days, the weekend before – a big escarpment gets the weather extremes. This was very unusual weather, so expect more cloud and cooler running next time. On the course, the womens’ times stood out as noticably faster this year, a great achievement considering the conditions. And all races were closely contested at the front, with relatively small gaps between the first few places. For full results click here:
Over 60% of you camped, which was a major achievement in this busy world. Not so many brought their mountain-bikes in the end, but I hope now that you know what a great area this is, more will plan a longer visit next year. Anyone for a Saturday river float-down on lilos?!
You can also see more pictures in a report from Andrew on the 50k checkpoint, at his blog below:
Email Andrew for copies of more photos of 50k runners at: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can order race shirts online for $30 including postage. Based on mine I’d recommend going a size above your usual for a loose fitting. The link below will be activated on Monday for two weeks only:
Reflections on trail marking and runners’ navigational skills:
I knew from experience there was a risk in not marking the far section of this course, because Australian trail runners are used to fully marked races. I made the call given my health problems, and having viewed the signage in past years which is large and clear. So it was very interesting to hear first hand the lead runners’ discussion on arriving at Moogem Road, the first unsigned junction. Both were in doubt, and one ventured “it must be straight ahead”. Most of you will remember the briefing – keep left, to the inside of the circular trail, and read the signs if unsure. But this is what happens to fast runners regularly – the brain is oxygen deprived, and simplifies the decision to cope – “straight on must be right”. Ah well, we will sign those two straight-ahead junctions again next year…
I started my trail running in New Zealand, where nobody marked the tracks. If you headed down a wrong ridge in the Southern Crossing race over the Tararuas in a bad weather year (cancellations were rare), you stood a fair chance of dying. This prospect is marvellously effective in prompting runners to prepare (laminating and studying maps before race day) and to improve their navigational skills (check of key way-points; stop and re-think immediately something feels wrong). I still believe this style of race is very important, as it skills people up so they are safe to take on their own personal explorations of new areas. Orienteering, rogaining and adventure races are the best places to get these skills quickly, without risk of dying!
Fire: Just in case you felt worried about the drifting smoke, I kept in touch with the ranger and there was no risk to us from a fire on the lower edge of the escarpment. Fire monitoring has advanced a lot in recent years, now including satellite imaging, and if there had been a risk in any part of the course we would have planned new routes before the race start.
Special mention to the hard-working crew; Julie, Andrew & K with the Juicy van on the checkpoints; Pam on the timing, Julie on the catering, the Duncan/Wehr clan who collected signage and Olga whose loan of a bike sped up de-marking. Remember, TRAQ is a non-profit race organiser, and we rely on members and casual volunteers to provide these events.
Another special mention to the three people who adjusted their course down in the hot conditions – I wish more people would do this and enjoy their day in the bush.
Ideas for next year: There’s an attractive single-track section alongside Surveyors Creek out to the highway, to investigate for the middle course; this would trim it to 20km instead of 26km.