Thursday, 21 April 2016

Jabulani Challenge, Australia

Upside Downunder
Run Calgary does Sydney. I planned that photo for weeks. 
The Bridge? I found it behind a giraffe. 
There were, of course, plenty of beaches which we hit on Sydney's hottest April day on record. This one's Tamarama. 

The race was one week after our arrival in Sydney. 

Off we went, driving my first right hand drive car in 17 years to Bobbin Head.
This is in Ku-Ring-Gai Chase national park, just 50k outside Sydney. The Jabulani Challenge is part of a area series of trail races. There was a 45k, 25k, and a cautious-trail-running-tourist-friendly 12k. 

Staggering Start
The organizers decided that runners would start in pairs every 5 seconds to reduce congestion. 
That turned out to be a great idea. Just the start was in a wide open picnic area. 
12k road? Under 50 minutes. I tried a prediction of 1:15, with only a vague idea of what lay ahead. 
Just 3 minutes in, my first inkling I'd be in for a slightly longer morning than I thought, with the boardwalk flooded. If that guy had fallen to the left, it would've made for a great film highlight. Thankfully he didn't, making it through at about the same time I decided to just walk straight straight through the ankle deep water.

Ay, 'Ere's Rock
There was lots to clamber over. 
A traffic jam or 2 also, though as the runner least familiar with the course, it was good to have someone in front most of the time. One simple rule: do as the runner in front, but if she or he falls, don't.
The steepest part was about one third around. At points, I was using tree trunks to pull myself up. 

Queen Of The Desert 
At the top was the only truly fast section, flat and untechnical.  
Half way point, and my obligatory water on head.

Cartwheeling & Skippy
What happened next was rather shocking. On a downhill section with lots of hidden rocks, an extremely fast guy came flying past. 
He had looked impressive until he didn't: 
The branch slightly blocks the camera's view. At the time, it looked like a cartwheel. He landed on his back with a deep thump. 
Groaning as I caught up, and staring into the sky, another asked, "mate, can you breathe?" "I'm probably just in shock," came the slightly unexpected answer. One runner went back for help, while I said I'd tell the next marshal I saw as well as the organizers at the finish line. 
10 minutes later, another guy provided a memorable moment as he hopped 2-footed past. 

Bush Whacked
I fell gently backwards into some fern a couple of k later. 
I actually got a bit lost too, along with plenty of others. 
As I contemplated the biggest ants I've ever seen on this tree, I thought it best to turn around. Making my way back through bushes and sharp wild grass, my hands, forearms and shins got quite a few cuts. 
I came across some who hadn't turned around a bit later. 
One more water crossing, nice and slow. 
Then a proper trip and fall. No harm done, but great to watch the replay.

Emerging quickly back onto pathways, it seemed to come to an end quickly.
Just a few towed boats to get past. 
Finish line. 1:36:37 and 46th place was quite a way back, but the aim was pure fun and not getting hurt.
Mission accomplished! 
There were a few ankle twists at the finish, my cuts were nothing to worry about. The poor guy from earlier was listed as a DNF. 

Manley recovery 
A day lazing around beaches followed. This race was totally different from anything else I've ever run, a unique thrill.
A great urban escape, not that Sydney needs to be escaped from. 

The film:

1 comment:

  1. I love how you planned that photo! I do the same too. Great photos! Gosh Australia is so beautiful. Looks like you had a fabulous time!