Saturday, 26 January 2013

Mt Glorious 22k mountain trail run 2012

22-kilometre 2012 Mt Glorious mountain trails race. Saturday, 4th February.
Mt Glorious on the northwest of Brisbane is a popular destination for those seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. A cool retreat in summer, the mountain has rainforests, walking trails, viewing spots, picnicking places, birdwatching and many other activities. Walkers and hikers are spoilt for choice with paths of varying grades: Maiala Park short walks with parking, picnic and toilet facilities, rainforest trails and tracks with loops and circuits and climbs to peaks and descents to creeks, and the odd swimming hole. I now know of two. I’ll have seen them and waded across them in a biathlon (aquathlon) today. There’s also the longer and steeper trails, used for fire management, forest ranging or for the occasional trail walk hike trek or even run. One such summer trail run is the 22-kilometre 2012 Mt Glorious mountain trails race.
Map of the route.
The final weeks of summer in Queensland are in February. It’s the best of times, and the worst of times – for running and hot weather.
The first Saturday of February was fairly typical. Temperate early morning with expected high humidity and mercury may be rising. The clouds in the sky seem uncertain on what to do, linger or go. I was uncertain also on my running battle armour. I gathered up the necessities: hydration pack, cap, watch, phone, energy bar, water bottle, camera, spare socks, footpads and shoes. It all appeared bulky and heavy, and that’s without sunscreen. I looked at what I can leave behind, maybe the tiny plastic bag for the mobile phone (in case of rain). Then I thought if some people can run barefoot, maybe I can run butt naked. But I feared getting sunburnt, and the ladies might burst out laughing. Wear a g-string perhaps. This conundrum was all too hard to fix so I just upped and went.
I drove to The Gap to catch the runners' chartered bus to Mt Glorious. I was expecting more runners than turned up. Others obviously decided to use private transport. The bus left at 06:05 up Waterworks Road towards Mt Nebo. I was looking forward to viewing parts of the D’Aguilar range national park on the drive up. However the bus turned left to Payne Road and I thought we’re taking the bumped-up Gap Creek Road on the edge of Mt Coot-tha. But the bus turned again and I realised finally that it was not suited to the narrower ascending and winding mountain roads and is taking the long way around, going anti-clockwise to Cedar Flats. So leaving The Gap, we go through the northwestern suburbs: Ashgrove, Bardon, Red Hill, Paddington, and Toowong. And then along the western freeway, Ipswich motorway, Warrego highway thence past Fernvale to Northbrook parkway, venue of the start line at the base of Northbrook mountain.
We arrived there around 07:15. The atmosphere was carnival-like, with a band of bagpipers and bright sunshine greeting the runners and their supporters. The entries are limited to 150 or 160, but there seemed to be twice that number. The wilderness had come to life right there on the side of that deserted mountain road.
The sun was up and smiling at the runners. I just hoped it did not get too warm.
There was no mist. The fuzz was from my camera.
The runners were sent off in three waves about five minutes apart. The faster runners were in the first group and soon the bagpipes called them to arms, or to legs, I mean to ass-emble. Each group was briefed separately just before the get go by the race director. Greg Waited patiently for the boys and girls to lend their ears.
And then the first wave of runners scooted off. The second and third groups followed soon after.
Just metres from the start line, we come to a crossing on a creek swollen from all the rain this wet summer. It was at least 5m wide with water up to knee deep and no way around. Runners had no choice but to wade across.
Once across the creek it was all steep hill climbing (about 450m ascent over 3.75km) to the top of Northbrook mountain.
The trail was tough and the tough runners got going– if only I was one, but I was just rough, and doing it the toughest. Like on many previous runs, I brought up the rear, guarding the runners from leeches and snakes, or was it just my imagination. I was actually avoiding getting trampled while ruing my sodden shoes.
From the hilltop on Mt Northbrook, the course flattened out and then we started descending down the long, winding, rolling zigzags towards England Creek. There were speed bumps (some were mole hills bigger than mountains) along the descent but I finally got to the creek at about the 10km mark.
From here it’s a mere 600m of climbing over 12km to the finish. This uphill battle is very daunting really. If only I had a car.
But wait I see a 4WD! This was at the watering station where I replenished my water bottle. A daddy and three young kids cheerfully and efficiently attended to the runners. The kids were having fun helping dad with the drinks and lollies. Good on you all.
The next 3km section of the trail along the creek was relatively moderate, but I was inclined (psyched, conditioned, brainwashed) to walk anything remotely resembling an uphill. I trudged on with my feet getting more and more uncomfortable with every step, as mud sweat and grit dumped on my shoes that were already damp from the start.
The next watering point near the 13km mark was a relief. The couple attending the water station offered encouragement and nice words to all: ...more than halfway there it’s all downhill from here, one more water stop, wonderful run in the rainforest... Where would running events be without volunteers? I cannot thank volunteers enough in words (especially when huffing and puffing) but it’s wonderful that they’re there.
Again I watered up. Then I took a breather, and changed my socks and footpads for the final 9km ascending leg of this journey. I counted about 20 runners go past as I rested up. They’re hardly sweating. All along the route runners had been passing me, on average one every 500m. I did pass one or two - at the water stops. 
The sun was peeking through the clouds again as I resumed battling up the mountain. A runner sprinting up the hill asked how far to go. I was almost dead and out of breath and did not really want to know how much more i had to endure. But I checked my watch and politely told him: another seven-odd kilometres.
I passed the last water stop at KP18, and then after what seemed like an eternity of torturous uphill hiking, I somehow got to the verge of the rainforest at the mountaintop. It felt like another world. The air was cooler and thinner. The thicker vegetation blocked off some more of the daylight, and jogging under the canopy with the dimming of the day, was like running in the evening with the darkening of the night. Surreal but so real.

Multiple choice:
a. the photographer's hands were shaky.
b. the reader needs glasses
c. both of the above
Soon the TRAQ red arrows at the stone-lined single track appeared and I entered the muddy winding trail. The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and less than a mile to go before i slip - out of the thick trees, to the sunny grassed clearing at the finish in Maiala park.
So I slowed down taking great care not to slip. Some of the best rainforests in Australia are right here in Mount Glorious with strangler figs, buttressed trees, stinging trees and large rainforest trees. However the rocks and protruding tree roots make the gloomy trail uneven in places. Treading cautiously, I hurried slowly through the wet sclerophyll and rainforest, past the western window, ducking under branch and overhanging vine, until I finally come out to bright sunshine at the finish line.
This was indeed a mountain trail, and for good reason. I think I finished just outside the estimated average finish time. Below-average for me, but then this was no ordinary run. This was tough as tough can get. The cloud cover did hover above all day, keeping the intermittent warm sunshine at bay. This helped my cause immensely because I usually just melt in the sun. And the shade provided by the canopy of the gums and then the sanctuary of the rainforest kept me from wilting.

The presentation to the winners happened well before I finished. But I enjoyed the lunch of sandwiches, fruits and other food goodies provided at the finish line. Well done to the RD Greg, TRAQ organisers, volunteers and everyone involved. Maybe next year, 100 of the runners should use the bus (mini-buses?) and the other 50-60 may use their cars. As the bus driver said 40-80 cars away from those mountain roads can only do good. Runners can just relax pre- and post race, with less damage to the road system, less risk of accident, less need for parking space, and good for the environment. See, increasing your running footprint, lessens your carbon footprint. Now I’d definitely do Mt Glorious again next year, but only if TRAQ can arrange for a beach and pool at the finish line :-).

My reading of the results:
  • Average finishing time: 2:50:00. About 80 runners finished under this time.
  • The bottom 60 finished in an average of 3:15:00. I am bracketed in this group. Makes my time look good.
Congratulations to the top placers, but as I like to say, the winners are all the participants...
The top 15 are:
Place Class AgeGroup RaceNum Firstname Lastname Clock
1 1M 20-29 82 Gerard Balnaves 2:00:08
2 2M 40-49 203 David Riach 2:01:30
3 3M 30-39 28 James Bamber 2:02:01
4 4M 20-29 107 Daniel Nunan 2:02:31
5 5M 20-29 11 Ben Malby 2:09:45
6 6M 30-39 102 Artem Golev 2:09:46
7 7M 20-29 87 Jim Heaslop 2:09:47
8 8M 20-29 64 Josh Magar 2:10:46
9 9M 20-29 216 Steve Whiteman 2:11:32
10 10M 20-29 94 Henk Morgans 2:17:31
11 11M 30-39 8 Terry Verhaar 2:13:45
12 1F 40-49 205 Hubertien Wichers 2:14:06
13 2F 30-39 24 Lucy Blaber 2:16:56
14 12M 40-49 202 Nigel Waddington 2:16:56
15 3F 20-29 70 Kirra Balmanno 2:18:04

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The longest parkrun

Lake Eden in North Lakes is home to various wildlife such as swans ducks turtles fish and birds.
It is also the venue of the North Lakes parkrun, the first of seven 5-kilometre runs that make up the inaugural longest parkrun in Australia. A few weeks ago, I tagged along with a couple of friends just to look around and take some photos. I remember joining a fun run in North Lakes before.

The open coast line of Moreton bay from Nudgee to Caboolture running through Shorncliffe Sandgate and Brighton is called Warra by the indigenous Turrbal people.
The Warra foreshore is home to the Sandgate parkrun, host of the second of seven parkruns. The breezy Sandgate foreshore is a popular venue for running, walking cycling, picnics and other recreational activities.

New Farm parkrun was the first in Australia. It has been good for encouraging many people to take up running and improve their general health and well-being. So many have fallen into the joys of the running mistress.

Southbank parklands in South Brisbane on the beautiful Brisbane river is third on the list of the longest parkrun.
I remember running in Southbank a couple of times before, and enjoyed the wonderful scenery while treading on the pathways abutting the river. 

5. Wynnum
Wynnum on Moreton bay.

This is also now the venue for the bayside twilight running festival, and of course the Wynnum parkrun.

From the coast, the runners ran to the hills in Upper Coomera.

  Runners said that this was the most 'hilly' of the seven parkruns.
 I looked around.
 Maybe that hill was just their imagination?

For the seventh official final run the parkrunners went from the mountains back to the sea in Main Beach on the Gold Coast.

 Back in Upper Coomera, someone did a poll of people who were crazy. Three runners put their hands up.
These three mighty (or crazy) runners opted to go interstate for an eighth run in Kingscliffe NSW. Super effort that! And so too all the hundreds who took part in the longest parkrun. Good work to all who ran any number from one to eight plus runs.