The Running Wild Kedumba Half Marathon is described as ‘Arguably Australia’s toughest half marathon’ and (although I have not run many half marathons) I do agree. My legs have never felt like that before!! Check out the elevation chart below:
If you ask me why I had signed up for this race I would not be able to give you an answer. Maybe I like pain, or maybe I really am crazy like my friends keep saying. Either way, there I was getting up at 4am to drive from to the Blue Mountains to run the Kedumba Walls. And the term ‘Walls’ definitely describes what we climbed that day!
I arrived at the start/finish area about 6.40am to register and collect my bib. I ran into Lise from CHeBA and saw many other familiar faces that I’ve met over the past 6 months. It’s surprising how many people you see consistently turning up to races. And it’s lovely to have a chat about how their training is coming along and recent races, I really like hearing what everyone else has been up to.
A few people I met (while lining up for the porta loo) had competed in the Tarawara Ultra in New Zealand the week before, and due to Cyclone Luisi they had unfortunately been pulled from the race as the cut off times got moved during the race for safety reasons when the weather declined. Both of them were very upset to get a DNF (Did Not Finish) but could see the importance of safety. Frustrating nonetheless, but there’s always 2015…!
There were about 150 people competing in today’s race and there was also a short course option of 10km. I ran into Paul from our Sydney Striders Six Foot training group and we chatted about the upcoming NorthFace100 which he had just decided to enter. We started the race together when the gun went off at 7.30am I stayed with him for most of the race. I almost caught up to him right near the end too!
The first 10km of the course was down hill so it would be a lot faster than the trip back up!! We were so high at the start that we could see glimpses of the fog below us as we descended down the Kedumba Walls. I got talking to John another gentleman who I’ve met out on the trails before. I had a great time chatting to many new and old faces during the race and it’s probably what kept me going and kept me positive.
Thankfully the course was mostly fire trail, except for the small rocky section before and after the river crossing at the bottom (which they had added for fun!), I do love a river crossing and my feet enjoyed the cold water as I went through. But before I got to that section I decided that I would count the runners coming back up the hill towards me so I could gauge what place I was coming. I don’t know why I wanted to know what place I was in, it’s not like I am fast or anything, but it gave me something to strive for. I knew there weren’t too many females taking part in the race so I guess I had a better chance than in most races with a bigger turnout. And as I got to the river crossing I realised that i was in 5th place, but I knew it wouldn’t last long.
I made sure I encouraged the runners coming towards me as I went past them on my way back towards the mountain. I was also promising myself to stay positive and just keep lifting the legs. The return trip would be a lot harder and I knew I would have to dig deep.
I ran a few of the less steeper sections of the mountain, but for most of it I walked and power walked. It was so steep in some sections that I had to rest my hands on my knees for support to lift my legs, it was crazy! My legs have never worked so hard walking before! Thankfully there were some beautiful views on the way back down and i stopped to get a quick shot on one of the bends, with about 4km still to go. It was good to take my mind off my legs if only for a minute.
Of course by this point I had been overtaken by a lot more people, but not as many as I thought might go past me. I had counted 3 women go past me so I knew I was in about 9th place and thought to myself that it would be awesome to come in the Top 10. So that was my new plan, not to let any other women overtake me.
And then about 2km from the end an older lady called Alma came up behind me and encouraged me to run so we ran together from here until the end. We were still climbing but it was not as steep as earlier and I was determined not to let her get ahead of me. We caught up to another lady who was struggling about 1km from the end and I gave her some encouragement (while secretly smiling that I had overtaken her).
Then we saw the (heavenly) gates at the top of the hill which indicated the rest was downhill and we both sighed with relief. My legs were really feeling it so I decided to give them a stretch out and use gravity to propel me down the hill, I pushed as hard as I could and speed up giving it everything i had left in the tank.
I ended up in 9th place and I was thrilled to have been able to push myself so much without stopping. It was such a hard walk/run back up the mountain and I’m not sure that I would venture out to do it again….. but you never know. At least it was good hill training.
Happy Running 😀