Sydney Trail Series – Manly Dam

I think I’m still in shock! I looked up the results from this Sundays trail run around Manly Dam and I came 4th in my age group! I can’t even remember the last time I came anything, maybe it was back in primary school when I used to win medals for athletics and netball. As an adult it’s quite humbling, especially for someone as slow as me.

Last Sunday I met up with some friends from the Sydney Harbour Runners group and we chose our start groups for the 10km course option. I decided to hang at the back with Todd, Pras and a few others as I planned to take it easy. After all, I had done 32km the day before and was running on tired legs.

As our group set off I tried to get to the front and stick with Todd and Pras, they are usually much faster than me on the road but I’ve had a lot more trail experience than they have which I thought might work in my favour. So I sat behind Todd for the first few ams, but then the groups in front of us got slow and were walking some of the sections. And because it was so narrow it was really holding us back.

So I took a chance and sped past Todd when I saw a break appear. I wanted to stay in good pace but nothing too uncomfortable. And I wanted to catch Pat. He had started in an earlier group and I really wanted to see if i could catch him.

What happened to my ‘taking it easy’ plan? Good question. And I don’t have an answer for that except that my competitive side won.

And I caught him. When I got to him I stayed on his tail for a while and we chatted. I had thought at that point I might stick it out the rest of the way with him. But that competitive voice in my head won over again and after a km or so I overtook him.


This race was totally different to the long runs that I have been doing lately and it was great to try and get some speed up on the course. I felt like I was flying down some of the hills and I heard people behind me commenting on how fast I was going past them. I felt really confident and comfortable on the trail. Maybe I will have to stop saying that i’m a beginner trail runner now. Or maybe that will come after 6 foot track in a few weeks….?

So there I was puffing and pushing towards the finish line.

We got to the bridge at the end of the Dam and I felt fantastic. I knew it meant there were only a few more ams to go and only 1 steep, rocky, single-tracked hill.


I had run this course back in December and loved it, but I had lots more experience now and have learnt that knowing the trails is sometimes half the battle.

The last hill came and I went past many people here. They had either stopped to rest or walk and I just kept moving. Forward, upward, past them. I felt like nothing could stop me. A huge difference to how horrible I had felt on my trail run the day before. I was very grateful.

We rounded the last bend and I heard the crowd so I gunned it. I sprinted to the finish and ended up with a time almost 4 minutes fast than my run back in December. And I now know that I came 4th. How exciting is that!!

I am so grateful for the good running days when everything works and you feel unstoppable. Let’s hope in just over 3 weeks time I feel the same on race day. Fingers crossed.

Happy Running.

Sydney TrailRunning Series

Yesterday I competed in my first ever trail running race, an event organised my Mountain Sports and held at the Manly Dam about a 30 minute drive north from the CBD.

I arrived super early as I had been slack and missed out on the online entry cut off date and had to register on the morning, but it meat I got a great parking spot which would come in handy if my legs were sore after the race.

One of my old work mates Sam spotted me and came up to say hello, he was running the half marathon (2 laps of the Manly Dam) which was more than I wanted to bite off and chew at the moment with my limited trail running experience. However I found out that he is also registered for some of the trail races i’m planning to do in 2014 and it sounds like it’s going to be a big year for both of us.

I wished Sam well and the half marathoners set off to start their journey. Apparently the gentleman who had won the Northface100 was also competing so there was some tough competition.

My mates Todd and Claire from Sydney Harbour Running club also turned up for a crack at the 10km trail run and we were in for a tough course.

They split us up into groups of about 30 to send us off in waves as apparently a lot of the course is single track. This made me a bit nervous as it can be hard to stay on your own pace with people breathing down your neck, or people in front who you catch up to and can’t get around…. I always get nervous before races, don’t we all.

And the count down began, we were off. Most of the first part of the race was single track and very uneven surfaces which would be good experience at dodging and weaving. Some of the time I was too busy looking down and got wacked with a low branch, so after that I kept reminding myself to also look up. You really have to be on your game and alert the whole time, it’s not like road running at all. I wore the Nike GPS watch but I don’t think I looked at my pace even once, whereas on the road you look at it all the time, the only time I looked at my watch was to check km’s.

A small part of the course on a fire trail and then it was back into the single track and then it opened to a lovely bridge crossing at the end of the Dam which was quite high but had some great views. Then it was hill time, the last one and by far the hardest part of the course. I walked it mostly as my legs were struggling, but I didn’t stop. I just kept moving, that’s my motto…… just keep moving. Then I tripped and fell. I landed on my wrist which softened the blow for my knees but it meant there was blood. I did a quick body check and it was only my hand that hurt so I got up straight away and kept moving. My concentration was lacking as I was getting tired, something I would need to work on. I ran very slowly on the down hill section and before I knew it the finish line was in sight. I dug deep and made a sprint for the line, it was done.

We were then spoilt with fruit, water, coffee and a bbq to replenish and I even went for a quick dip in the Dam to cool down.

Over all I loved the race, it was hard an it pushed me to test my limits but I kept going. And what a beautiful location, great track and having the dam to cool down was awesome.

I met up with the others to share our stories and we all had a fun time. As this race is the first of 4 races, we all decided that we had a blast and would be back next year!!

Happy running! 😀