The Sri Chinmoy Canberra 101 Trail Run was staged in and around Canberra on Sunday 28 September 2014. Full results, both overall and by category follow, along with the top 3 times for each leg by category:
The Sri Chinmoy Canberra 101 Trail Run was staged in and around Canberra on Sunday 28 September 2014. Full results, both overall and by category follow, along with the top 3 times for each leg by category:
When the human being – body, vital, mind, heart and soul – is focussed on greatness, then astonishing strength, power, goodness, love and creative capacity flows from within to reveal in our little, limited world something infinitely marvellous.
When several hundred souls gather with one magnificent, transcendent goal, then we glimpse the glory that is our very best.
This glory is in the striving, in the pain as much as the joy, the stumbles alongside the confident strides, the so-called failure hand in hand with the triumph. For it is in striving to go beyond ourselves that we glimpse who we truly are.
The Sri Chinmoy Canberra 101 Trail Run brought together a family of champions. Every participant – solo and relay runner, helper, volunteer and well-wisher – gave their all to a day-long symphony of celebration, a soaring song of the human spirit.
Every individual performance was remarkable. Every achievement was sublime. Every participant should take a bow.
The Sri Chinmoy Canberra Centenary ultra is one of my favourites, more than anything because it showcases what a beautiful place Canberra is. Where else in the world can you host an ultra run that circumnavigates a major city while spending most of its time in the bush? Throw in a heap of mountains (hills actually) and you have a great race.
This was the second year running, with an extra km added to celebrate. I came second last year, and was hoping to improve this year. I am fitter than last year, and scoping out the form guide I didn’t see any super stars, but as always in racing you never know what’s going to happen on the day. Long story short I ran really well, everything went to plan, but was beaten by a stronger competitor. Kudos to Bradley Carron-Arthur. On the negative side I missed out on first place. On the positive side I did a PB, plus I have extra motivation to train hard for next year. I’m a glass half full kind of person.
My lead up to this race involved a bit more tapering and less running than I usually do. I strained a glute two weeks before race day and despite loads of stretching and massage it still wasn’t fully healed. It was the sort of injury that could easily go away with a long run and not be a problem at all, or might flare up and risk my first DNF. I briefly considered pulling out to avoid the risk of a DNF, but being motivated by the great Kilian Jornet, “I am not afraid to fail”, decided this really wasn’t kosher. Fortunately the injury went away in the first leg and caused no problems after the first 20 metres limping down the hill. Love the body.
Pretty much from the start I was running with Brad. There were a couple of other people as well. John Power broke away at one stage early on which made me uncomfortable, because being a mate I really didn’t want to see him blow up. He ended up having a great race so my fears were unjustified. Another “unknown” to me (Stuart Davies) made a serious break away on the first leg, and was out of sight for ages, but it was too early on to know if he could maintain the pace.
Coming into CP1 my plan was to ditch Brad and run the rest of the race at my own pace (aside from Stu, who was still in front). I raced down Taylor and did a super quick change of packs with Tom Brazier on support. The plan seemed to be going well and I was running by myself for most of this leg, aside from passing Stu who looked in a bad state a few km later. (Checking the results later I see that although he slowed, Stu kept going and was consistent the remainder of the race - so kudos to Stuart Davies as well).
Approaching CP2, Brad had caught up and we ran together into the CP. By now we had covered over 50km and so I knew I had real competition by my side. The second half of this race was clearly going to push me!
I managed a quick transition and left the CP in front of Brad. He was soon to catch up and passed me heading up Black Mountain. I was quickly realising that Brad was faster than me on the uphills and I was faster on the downhills. Usually it’s the opposite, with race competitors passing me on the downhills. I ran the mexican hat on Black Mountain feeling less than ordinary, but somehow managed to catch Brad again later as we were leaving Black Mountain.
Around this time I stumbled a couple of times, and finally fell and grazed myself. I was getting tired and sloppy with my feet. This was definitely not the message I wanted my competitor to see. Brad managed to break away after I fell (after checking I was OK and graciously offering his help), and so I chased him all the way into CP3.
I hung around a little too long at CP3 and was gradually giving in mentally. I could see that Brad was a tough competitor, and having run Canberra to Cape York I knew he would not give up easily. Still there’s was always the hope he was feeling worse than me so I pushed on and tried to avoid losing too much time. I figured I would push at least until the Mt Ainslie summit ridge, where I would see what sort of lead he had and what condition each of us was in.
By the time I made the summit ridge I could see Brad had a decent lead. It was not insurmountable if I was feeling good and he wasn’t, but unfortunately I wasn’t feeling good! At this point I was pretty sure it was going to be a 2nd place finish, provided nobody was right behind me. I made it to the top and down again without seeing third place, so with 15+ minutes up my sleeve I had a pretty comfortable lead on third.
I really didn’t want to get lazy for the remained of the leg, so I kept telling myself that either David Baldwin or Andrew Donaldson (both running the last leg) would soon overtake me, and how embarrassing it would be if this occurred while I was walking on the flat. It was a silly mental game but helped me keep going to the end.
I crossed the finish line in a time of 9:53:27, which is almost 17 minutes faster than last year. The course didn’t climb Stromlo, but was an extra km, so I really don’t know if it was easier or harder this year around. I figure it was about the same so I’m wrapped with a PB and pleased with how I ran. Can’t wait for next year.
The 2014 edition of the Sri Chinmoy Canberra 101 trail run was to be my first proper ultra run. I had run a few road and trail marathons previously, and while I have a sneaking suspicion that there is a sub-3 hour marathon lurking in me somewhere, the thought of spending a good part of the year training to shave another few minutes off my time didn’t appeal. Being a Canberra local, I had seen the ultra runners last year making their way around the loop, and after reading the inspirational race reports from last year’s race I was in.
One of the nice things about training for the race was that I got to spend a large amount of time running on the various hills and trails in the Canberra nature park network; my Sunday morning long run was something I looked forward to each week. Seven months of building up my distances, hitting the hills, and running a few training races left me with the confidence that I could finish the run, but a longest run of only 5 hours (46km) meant that there was some uncertainty about just how I would get there. (For those interested, I found the training program set out by Don Wallace a great resource.)
The first two stages of the run were largely uneventful. The first stage disappeared without a lot of thought – there were plenty of distractions in the form of beautiful scenery, chat with fellow competitors and the excitement of my first ultra. The second stage over Mt Arawang, over the dam and out the back of the arboretum was long, warm, and to be honest a little boring, but I was lucky enough to fall into stride with Saxon Brown and we kept each other company for a couple of hours. By the end of this stage I was feeling strong, looking forward seeing my family at checkpoint 2 (55km), and eating some real food (GU is great stuff, but I was getting a little tired after number 9…). I was also getting quite excited and nervous at the thought of what was to come – 55km was 10km further than I had run before, and I was curious to find out how much longer I could go on like this.
Not much longer, as it turned out. About 2 km into the stage another runner warned me of the presence of two brown snakes doing what brown snakes do on the first warm day of Spring. Unfortunately they were doing it in the middle of the path – and while I waited a few minutes to warn the next runner through (the snakes didn’t seem to recognise the importance of the sporting event they were interrupting) all the running seemed to leave my legs. I found it difficult to get into a rhythm again, and as I climbed up into the Aranda Bushland I entered my first dark period of the race. A short walk break at 60km was followed pretty soon by another one, and the doubts entered my mind. The next 10km up and over Black Mountain – usually one of my favourite runs – was a misery as I found it increasingly difficult to end each walking break and as I mentally started calculating how long I would have to endure this if I were to finish. What was usually a 55 minute run on a Sunday morning training run took an hour and a half – and it seemed longer. Worse, I couldn’t seem to run downhill – my quads were screaming and no amount of Jens Voigt-like exhortations to “shut up legs” would help.
Eventually, however, I made it off Black Mountain, my ‘running breaks’ became longer, and my mood started to lighten. I had a few words to Wes Gibson, whose race was going much worse than mine, and that helped me put my plight into a bit of perspective. The 7km until the next checkpoint at Dickson was mostly flat, and I was able to pass the time talking with fellow competitor Adrian Cengia. Life was improving. I was also due to meet my mate and designated pacer Adrian at the checkpoint, and this gave me something to look forward to.
The fourth stage on Mounts Majura and Ainslie was one I was very familiar with, and I began mentally ticking off the kilometres as we made steady progress. Although I was in good spirits, the race was beginning to take its toll on my concentration. During a walk break I managed to tread on a shingleback that was being admired by a couple of bushwalkers – I blame Adrian, he was my ears and eyes at that point! (The shingleback was annoyed but fine, it’d take a tank to stop one of those things. The bushwalkers were also annoyed…) Looking back on my times for this segment, they weren’t that much quicker than on Black Mountain, they just seemed that way.
Finally, we had only Mount Ainslie and a short run to the lake to go. I had been looking forward to the climb for a while: the uphills were still going well, and I was hoping to pick off a couple of runners ahead of me on the climb. Indeed, I managed to overhaul three runners before the summit, including the redoubtable Pam Muston – this was going alright! I even left Adrian behind, much to the consternation of his partner who was waiting at the top of the hill. But I also knew that the steepest descent of the day was coming up, and I wasn’t sure the legs were going to allow me an easy finish. As soon as we started going down, I slowed to a hobble. Worse, this caused my blood pressure to drop, and I got woozy and nauseated (post exercise hypotension, for the medically inclined among you). I needed to sit down several times on the way down, and I entered my darkest mood of the day – I was 4km from the finish, and I could see no way of getting myself there. I was pretty close to tears.
Eventually – amazingly – with the encouragement of Adrian I managed to reach the bottom of the descent, and as I started running again my head cleared, my mood lightened and my pace increased. By Anzac Parade I was moving well, and even better there were three solo runners ahead to pick off before the finish line! Only John Power responded to my challenge of “let’s see what we’ve got left!”, and the last kilometre or so was a closely fought sprint finish. Barely 15 minutes before I had been sitting on a step on the Mount Ainslie path, feeling sick and wondering who was going to carry me home, and here I was finishing the race at 4:30 pace. I just managed to outlast John for 9th place overall.
Coming into the race, I had read a lot about the ability of an ultramarathon to send one to some pretty dark places, and about the importance of pushing through these places to the other side. More than anything else about this event, I was most looking forward to experiencing some of these lows, and testing my ability to push onward. I certainly found a couple of these dark places, and although I was hobbling and in great discomfort I have come to realise in the days after the race that these dark places were largely mental, not physical barriers. My legs weren’t any less damaged once I got off Black Mountain, nor did they magically heal once I go to within sight of the finish line. The realisation that it was my mind, not my body, which was failing me at those points has been one of my more humbling experiences. But it also made the sprint finish all the sweeter.
I am never running another 100km race ever again. These were my first words to friends and family when I finished the 2013 Canberra 100K.
After telling myself that I have ticked the ultra-marathon box, and that I don’t need to put myself through such physical and mental torment again, the thoughts of going back to Canberra for another go, to better my time and place started creeping in. Before I knew it, I had committed to a training program and signed myself up. I wanted to compete against the girls this year. I wanted to come in under 13 hours and most of all I wanted that podium finish.
But let’s start from the beginning. In May this year my husband (and amazing friends) surprised me for my 30th with an entry into the New York City Marathon which is to be staged in November. I was excited and started dreaming of how fast a time I could do. But then my mind turned to Canberra. Could I still do the 100 and then back up 5 weeks later for my first ever marathon? I had to weigh up priorities. To do well in New York or do well in Canberra? The temptation of smashing out a solid 100km time in Canberra took out the top spot. My goal for the year now was to give Canberra a good crack and just go out and have a good time in New York.
In much the same style as last year, I started my training about 10 weeks out. I enlisted the services of super coach Brendan Murray (BME Endurance Coaching – look him up, he’s a legend and gets results!) and the ‘fun’ began. We didn’t have a heap of time to build up to the mileage most ultra-runners get to for a race like this but rather we went in with high quality sessions. I was conditioned to deal with pushing through solid sessions on tired legs and a tired mind. Some days it felt like I was dragging myself out of the house kicking and screaming. It seemed like the weather was always cold (for the Gold Coast anyway), dark and windy and most sessions were done alone. I won’t lie, it was the pits. But I remained focused knowing that this sort of conditioning would be exactly what I needed when I am in the depths of the race and I needed to rely on my mental strength to get through.
I scoped out the start list and saw that there were some ladies with very strong ultra backgrounds. Third place from last year was also returning so I knew I had a big task ahead if I wanted to get a place. My thoughts were going from ‘just go out and have a good run’ to ‘get out there and give it everything’. I figured it would probably come down to Pam Muston and Sarah Fien to take out the two top positions so my game plan was to keep them in sight and see what happens.
Race morning came around and in true Canberra style it was nearly freezing conditions. When we took off, just a tad after 6.00am, the temperature was a cool one degree! The fog was blocking the sun so it took a while before I warmed up. Trying to make conversation with other runners when your face is frozen is quite difficult! Anyway, I settled into a rhythm early and after a couple of kilometers I was the lead female. The gap between me and the next girl gradually grew and it was at this point I thought to myself I have two options here. I can settle down and be sensible, remembering there is still a long way to go, or just go for it. Run without fear (thanks Stacey!) and hang on for dear life…for the next 90+km! I thought what the hell, I’ll just go for it!! For the rest of the leg I continued to stretch my lead out. I was going at a pretty easy pace and I was still being sensible when it came to hills but from here on I wasn’t really prepared to lose the lead I had. I came into check point 1 a couple of minutes ahead of the next girl (who I now know to be Kristy Lovegrove). As soon as I saw the other girls starting to come in, I was off again.
The next few km into the second leg I had company following closely behind me (Natalie Best). It didn’t worry me too much and I figured that if she did take the lead I would remain cool and just hang on to her. A few kilometers passed and I turned to notice I had lost her. This leg was hot, really hot! The sun was really beaming down and there wasn’t much shade on offer. Around the middle part of this leg I began to feel quite dehydrated and my calves were starting to cramp. At first it was only on the hills but after a while it was happening on the flats, causing me to stop and walk or stretch them out. It was really slowing me down. The few kilometers leading into the Arboretum I was starting to struggle. I was having a lot more walking breaks than I had hoped for and I was really longing for the check point so I could see family and get the boost that I needed. Just as I remembered last year, the climb up to the Arboretum was not very nice but with my dad running alongside me (in his cycling kit and cleats!!) I charged up the last few hundred metres and was cheered into the checkpoint. 55.5km in and still leading!
The next section was the shortest of all the legs (22km) but it took in Black Mountain which is a killer climb. I left the transition smiling and with a bit of a spring in my step commenting to my support crew that it was only 22km until I see them again – easy! I had kept a watchful eye on the runners coming up the hill to see how close the next female was. By the time I had left none of them had made it through. However, I was informed a little later that they came through a few minutes after I had gone. I knew I was in for a fight to keep the lead from this point.
I was really trying my best to limit the walking breaks but I was completely zapped of all energy. The sun was still so hot and no matter how much I drank I just couldn’t seem to quench my thirst. It was around this time that I was starting to feel really ill. Coming into Dickson around the 75km mark was where I hit a wall. I knew the next check point wasn’t very far away but it seemed like I was taking forever to reach it. I was dehydrated, sunburnt, sore, exhausted and over it! And I was expecting the next female runner to overtake me any minute. My spirits were dropping rapidly. I needed to get to the next check point without completely losing it (and losing my lead!).
I shuffled into checkpoint 3 where I was met first by my dad. He asked me how I was feeling - horrible at best. I felt quite emotional, almost like I couldn’t hold it together for much longer. I told my support crew that I don’t think it’ll be long before the next female comes through. Well sure enough, within minutes, Pam Muston made her way through the transition. It was almost like it was in slow motion as I watched her support crew run alongside her, handing her food and supplies and off she went on her way for the fourth and final leg. I had lost my lead! I have to say though, there was still some satisfaction with the fact I had led for 77km! But the race wasn’t over yet. I had to re-gather and get on my way before the next female got me too!
Off I went for the final 24km with my sister, Sarah-Jane, alongside me for this leg. SJ remarked that it was only 5 parkruns to go. That was possibly the worst breakdown ever and I thought let’s just get to the top of Majura and then deal with the rest. I could see Pam only a couple of hundred meters ahead. We kept her in sight right up until the top of Mt Majura but after that she found another gear and was gone. If I wasn’t hurting enough before this point, I was certainly hurting now. My breathing was really labored, I was in agony and I was really nauseous (apparently also looking very pale). On our way down Majura we saw third place, Georgia Bamber, making her way up. Sarah-Jane was doing her best to keep my mind distracted by talking to me but the best response she could get out of me was either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or a grunt. It was at this point that I knew I couldn’t catch Pam. I had absolutely nothing left and it just became a fight to get to the finish in second place. It was somewhere between Mt Majura & Mt Ainslie that I made a promise to myself that I would never do this again! I asked myself to remember the amount of pain I was in at that moment the next time I even thought about entering another ultra-marathon. The kilometers were slowly ticking over and I continually looked over my shoulder to check for Georgia. Luckily she wasn’t in sight. I was hanging for the climb up Ainslie because it meant there was only ONE parkrun to go from there!
It wasn’t long before we commenced our way up the steep trail of Mt Ainslie. I didn’t remember it being so hard last year. My legs were in so much pain! After an agonizing climb it was an amazing feeling to hear a booming voice yell ‘Go Kathryn’ from above! Gary & Denise Clarke were waiting for us at the top of Mt Ainslie to cheer us on. What legends! Gary asked how I was feeling and all I could manage was a head shake. Not good, Gary. But we were so close now. I wasn’t letting anything stop me from here. Next was the harsh descent down the mountain and I just needed to make sure I didn’t trip on anything. My legs were so tired and I had to make a conscious effort to pick my feet up. Mum and Dad and the Clarke’s were waiting for us at the base of the mountain for a final cheer before the finish. I was in a bad way and just wanted to get there. Again, on the brink of tears we made our way down Anzac Parade which was a refreshing slight downhill on the pavement. We were catching other runners on the way too. I can’t even remember if there was conversation happening here. We made it onto the path along Lake Burley Griffin and I caught a glimpse of Regatta Point. It was so close. I had to ask Sarah-Jane if that was in fact the finish because I couldn’t believe we were that close. I was overwhelmed with emotion as I realised that I had done exactly what I set out to do. I think I commented to SJ words to the effect of ‘I did it’! We picked the pace up as we neared closer. Then we had to slow down to let mum and dad get to the finish before us – had to get that finish photo!! And then it was upon us – the final hill up to the finish line. I wanted my sister to cross the line with me because without her I wouldn’t have been able to hold it together in those final stages. She pushed me at the right times and got me to the end, just like I had asked her to. What a feeling it was to cross that line!
In 2013, I ran this race in 13hours 55mins in 5th place. This year I ran it in 12hours 26mins in 2nd place. I know it was a slightly different course, not taking in Mt Stromlo, but it was longer so I am definitely claiming it as a PB. A big one at that too! When I crossed the line I barked at my Dad ‘If I ever talk about doing this again, make sure you stop me!’. My Dad calmly replied ‘I will ask you again on Wednesday’. He knew.
Maybe I’ll come out of retirement for a sub12 in 2015, or maybe I’ll retire satisfied with my efforts in 2014 – we will see what happens!
My goal for Canberra has been accomplished. Now to go out and have a great time in New York!