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Sunday, 21 November 2010

running on empty - the 2010 mt coot-tha mousdash

14th November. The roads are wet. Puddles of water reflect the brightening morn at daybreak. But the overnight showers have ceased for now. As I drove down the streets of Brisbane, I spied the tv towers on the taylor range in the horizon. I was travelling early to Mt Coot-tha to find a parking spot before they closed the roads.

The name Coot-tha derives from the local Aboriginal term 'ku-ta' meaning honey. Of course kuta is a Filipino word for ‘fort’. It is also a word in Indonesia and Europe. And there is a place up a steep mountain cutting deep in the ‘mountain trail’, between Abatan and Sinto, near the boundary of Benguet and Mountain Province. This is called kut-kuta-so, a place notorious for erosion and landslides, especially during the rainy season. After decades of observing numerous funding and substandard construction works literally going down the drain in kut-kuta-so, I take the term to mean ‘unscrupulous scratching dogs’ or ‘rabid dogs’. I think I’ll leave the etymology of Kuta there.
But why Kuta? Well i happened to be in Brisbane on a work assignment. Last weekend I was checking out the lists of sights and things to do in Brisbane. And Kuta was listed in both. So i thought it’s about time i checked out the spot again.
And I was running on empty, but i thought i'd join one more run for the year.

On a sidestreet on a ridge i turned off, then explored a bit before finding a steeply sloping road opposite a quarry site next to the Kuta botanic gardens. There was ample space for parking. I pulled up and parked on a grassy verge. The trees looked greener after the recent showers. As i leave the car it starts to drizzle. I hurried across to the gardens at the foot of Mount Coot-tha. The beautiful gardens is a popular spot, home to many community events and festivals. We used to come here for sightseeing and walks to admire the flora and such activities.


My kids enjoyed feeding ducks, ibises and other birds and wildlife that make their home here. The japanese gardens is one of the better attractions.


Situated within the gardens adjacent to the carpark is the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium. You can take a trip around the milky way galaxy right here in the planetarium.


We also visited this place once or twice in the past. The Queensland Herbarium is also found in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens.
My kids are older now and i didn’t come here for a picnic.

I came for the second running of the Mousdash - a 10.5 km run up and down Mt Kuta. The 2010 Mt Coot-tha mousdash is the final scheduled race in the 2010 running calendar.


Before the race I checked out Nova. She didn’t take any notice of me. She wasn't super and she wasn't even a star. I didn't take any notice of her too. But of course I noticed many other beautiful sights.


The gents hogged the startline, so i made my way to the back for a change of scenery.



I stretched a bit telling myself to save energy for the big climb ahead.




The first 2.5 to 3km section of the run is the hardest. It is all uphill, with an average gradient of just under 10% and a gain in elevation of about 210m. This uphill section is like jogging up to the lookout hut near Chata in Pagturao in Bontoc. There is one good thing with the ascent up a mountain. It is great for viewing. And on the road to Kuta you can view most of Brisbane. On New Year’s eve, people come up to these slopes to watch the fireworks. Kuta was once known as 'one tree hill'. It is a natural bushland reserve and non-residential area. On the southern hill is the fabulous Kuta Lookout, offering spectacular panoramic views of the city, Glasshouse Mountains, D'Aguilar Range and Moreton Bay for visitors in the day time. But nighttime on Kuta is a memorable magical experience when you see Brisbane defined by lights rather than by landscape. Lovers spend hours on the lawns enjoying the scene.

I could smell the bitumen start to heat up and interrupting my thoughts of reclining on the grass. The chatter and small talk around me have suddenly changed to heavy breathing. Many of the younger runners have gone past.

The next section (3km to 6.5km) is up and down the rolling ridges under the eucalypts. I saw a koala clambering up the blind side of a gum tree. Now there's a sight you don't see everyday. My mouth has dried up. There is little or no breeze, but thankfully the air cooled down by the drizzles has not yet warmed. Along the ridges of Mt Kuta we go past the tall transmitter towers for the various television stations. The towers are visible for miles around. We pass some picnic grounds. Grey gum picnic park is popular for picnickers and walkers. The Mt Coot-tha – Simpson Falls circuit starts from the Grey Gum car park along the main ridge. The Bibak group of Queensland had an encounter with the locals here before (see side trips).
The adventurous members also checked out the walk which has a bit of everything – views, up and down the paths of nature’s home among the gum trees, wildflowers, gullies, creeks and a waterfall on a rock-face.

The third section (6.5km to 8.5km) is all downhill. We met some hikers, bikers, cyclists, a couple of walkers, and the odd car with a police escort. Running downhill means hard jarring on the feet. There is also the risk of falling on the still damp surface. So i took it easy. (What a handy excuse for a slow one).

At last we get to the foot of mt kuta at a road tee-junction off Simpson falls. From here you can head out to one of the many bushwalking tracks in the area.
The final 2km section is mostly flat, with one last little climb. The support crew at the drinks station at JC Slaughter Falls carpark (about 1km from the finish) cheer us on. Soon we merge with some of the 5km walkers. I wobbled as i sped up, from a walk to a jog, over the final 500m downhill stretch.
I had no idea of my time. I set my stopwatch at the start line but when i checked it after i crossed the finish line, i saw that it had broken down. The official race clock had broken down too. I think my time's slower than last year's. Am a year older so...:-).


I'm spent. Take bib off. Couple of slices of watermelon. Water and energy drinks. Head home. Back to the rat race.
looking out at the road rushing under my heels
running on...
but i'm running behind
...
now the streets are all empty
let the road rage take the stage...
listen to: jackson browne

My previous attempts at mt coot-tha: