Lesley Mason tells us about her fabulous debut trail half marathon experience at the Galston Gutbuster recently on 3rd April 2016. She has been breaking new ground and pushing herself harder than ever before! She found this technical trail half marathon even harder than the 2 marathons she has completed previously at Sydney's Blackmores marathon and Hobart's Cadbury marathon. We hope this inspires everyone to keep pushing their limits for the sheer exhilaration of it all.
2016 Galston Gutbuster trail half marathon by Lesley Mason (Rejoover & Manager at The Mason Picture Company)
All training went to plan and I was full of beans on race morning. Arrived nice and early to pick up my bib and caught up with some friends who were also running the event. Whilst we were all talking about how silly we were to be running, spirits were high. For me, so much so I was totally overestimating my own ability and started thinking about a 3 hour finish time instead of my realistic 3:30. The race started at the same time as the 8km event with self seeding and 2 runners starting every 5 seconds. I hopped in line with the 3 hour runners and off we went.
There was no easing into this race, as we went across the park then straight onto technical single trails. All the way to the bottom of the gully went fine, but then we needed to go up. I pushed hard and it was tough. I made it to the top but I was totally spent. One of the marshals checked if I was OK… “yes. I just need to catch my breath.” At this stage the course went onto roads for a short while but I still needed to walk for about 1km to get my breath back. In this time the sensible runners streamed passed me. Made it to the aid station, some lollies perked me up. Back to the trails. This time it was a section of fire trails which went back to single trail…. Lots of steps back down into another gully. At the bottom was a beautiful running stream to jump across, the straight back up the other side. Then straight down some fire trails and across the steel military bridge.
Next was a long section of fire trails that kept going up and up and up. It is an out and back course and at this point the race leaders were on their way back. The really cool part of this event was how much everyone cheered on everyone else – and the leaders who were pushing hard and doing amazing - cheered us on as they ran past us. It really perked up my spirits. A bit further on I started to see some people I knew so we high fived as we passed and I could swear that each time this happened I picked up my pace.
After 5kms that seemed to take forever, I reached the high point of the course which overlooks the national park. I had to stop and take a pic here. It turned out that it was a good way to get my breath back as after that was a very technical descent involving some rock scrambling. I was grateful to be wearing gloves here.
Once back on the fire trails it was a great opportunity to regroup and the high fives from the kids at the marshal points cheering on the “lady in pink” were very welcome. Then it was time to head back and finish this thing.
Knowing what was ahead of me made it a lot easier, and knowing what was ahead meant I didn’t push too hard to early on. I managed my road marathon pace on the road sections which surprised me. Hitting the second last section of trails I said hello to a couple of goats, jumped across some rocks to cross another creek and jumped a mile when something rustled in the undergrowth right next to the trails. I don’t know what it was and feel better not knowing I think.
There was then a short road section that took us to the bottom of the heritage steps. Yep, the race finishes with a huge climb. At this point the legs were burning so I just kept going and going. There were photographers on hand to capture this torture and I managed a smile. Not sure how. Once at the top it was a short run across the park to the finish line – 3:35. I was spent but happy.
Runners also received entry to Hornsby pool which was a perfect way to treat the legs after they worked so hard.
This was the toughest race I have ever run. It was also the friendliest and most fun.