Thursday, 28 March 2013

Peeking at Beijing

Beijing (used to be spelled Peking) is the capital city of China. In the few days I spent here, I enjoyed peeking at the sights in and around Beijing. In this part of the north China plain, I experienced a  biking tour, tiananmen, temple of heaven, forbidden city, etc and peaking at the great wall of China in Mutianyu (the off-limits tower 25 at 950m was the highest point that I set foot on here). The highlight of the tour was supposed to be one of Chinese food's great treasures - Peking duck, but I ducked out of the dinner.

On my last day, I took it easy. Fishing and checkers are relaxation activities.
But relaxing was furthest from my mind when I was in Beijing.

I had to pack in as much as I can in the few days I've got to spend here.
So who'd wanna work when you can be on holidays.
Where you can just relax and -
say what?
I best let the pictures paint the words.

Jingshan pagoda

Beijing railway station

Tiananmen square

Polichay flew over that Bird's nest of a national stadium.

Wangfujing night market

No thanks. We've got canetoads in Queensland.

Yes please!

I had one too many beers and forgot which was my ride. Taxi!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Nerang State Forest trail run 2013

Photos from the 25km trail run, 10 March 2013.
It was a conspiracy and I knew it.
The beautiful scenery belied the dirty muddy deal between the organisers and the elements.
In the preceding weeks and days, rains and thunderstorms have again lashed and inundated many parts of Queensland, and Nerang was not spared.
Just days before the event, the organisers said that the course had been cleared of fallen branches from the recent storms.
Well, aside from doubts about their sanity, trail runners are anything but gullible, so on a wet and gloomy Sunday morning, hundreds of this rare breed of mobile bipeds congregated at the Nerang velodrome.
Little did they know what was in store.
Overnight showers have laid the already saturated grounds very wet, soft and boggy.
But true to their unspoken creed, runners eagerly massed at the start, chirpy and chomping at the bit - 
or maybe those were their hydration packs.
From the outset the game was up and the conspiracy laid bare.
The pipe fence herded the runners right into the muddy trail up the hill.
It was not the first obstacle but the swollen creek looked to be crocodile-infested. It was cold comfort but thankfully the creek is a freshwater creek. I tasted it just to be sure - er with my eyes.
 Those devious conspirators had signed it Coombabah creek but it was actually a raging river.

The next obstacle was a fallen tree placed strategically in the middle of the trail . 
We skipped around it on the kangaroo tracks.
And then we were on the high way. This was better than their way.
My glasses had fogged up and I could not read the sign. 
That was very fortunate because I found out later that the water crossing was saltwater creek, 
and I did not encounter a saltwater crocodile.
The conspirators really went to great lengths - 
this great length of a tree trunk was lain right across the middle of an uphill climb
 in the nether regions of Siberia.
The next trick was to divert the runners into heartbreak hill -

On the ridges and the trails, the gullies and the swales, they put all kinds of obstacles from branches to rocks, tree stumps and ruts, tall grass and shrubs. Up and down the narrow, winding, broken, washed-out trails we ran on, because that's what we do - and the trail was there.
By the halfway, I was well and truly heartbroken, and my sole was deeply hurt-
on my right foot.
I gave up. The conspirators had prevailed, and I walked.
It's just that - it's just not cricket.
It was a trail run, but this biped was ran out.
I ain't got nothing against my friend the shelled shielded reptile,
but I was reduced to a turtle.
Actually a turtle would have been frolicking on this day here in Nerang,
as the heavens poured during the latter half of the race. Swell!
Every runner still out on the course was drenched from the swell - I mean from the rainspell.
Now if only I could find a shell-
 to shelter from the storm.
In the end, the joke was on them.We loved every minute of it.
I even finished in the top 50 - top 50% of course.
But better still, I beat my time from last year's race - 2012 Nerang SF 25k trail run -
 by a whopping 20 seconds!
Every runner has his tale to tell of course.
There was even this young runner - in his early 50's - who sprinted across the finish line and then celebrated by rolling on the muddy grass. I saw he had a bit of bleeding from cuts on his legs and arms. Obviously he had fallen on the rocky tracks somewhere out on the course, but he was loving it. I hope he got patched up and has no major injuries.
I'm sure he'll be back running on another trail in no time.
And so will I. Hopefully I'll get to again run here in Nerang in 2014.
 Maps of the 25km Nerang State Forest trail run course.