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Showing posts from 2018

Wangaratta rail trail part 2

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It was hot hot hot for my run from Wangaratta to Milawa to Beechworth and back to Wangaratta this week. I wanted to do the other section of the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail (I did the main trail earlier this year, and I thought at the time that it would also be nice to run to Beechworth). The timing of the Melbourne to Wang train makes it feasible to stay the first night in Milawa with a reasonable run that afternoon.
When I got off the train at 3.15 in Wangaratta the heat hit me in the face. I thought, I can’t run in that! It was 33 degrees. I only took 600 mls of water for what I thought was a run of 16 kilometres. Turned out the trail distances are inconsistently described/marked to say the least. They seem to pick some arbitrary point to start measuring (it’s a secret) and don’t always use the same point. And the maps don’t agree with the trail signs. For the record I ran 20.2, 35.5 and 44.5 kilometres. I feel I must note how stupid I felt carrying a rain jacket and fleece all th…

Mt Juliet hike

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Last week I got some great hikes done in Tasmania, especially the Walls of Jerusalem, so I wanted to be sure to keep this up when I came home. I picked the hike up Mt Juliet near Healesville for my first hike. Now, I won’t be recommending this hike to anyone because it’s more the sort of hike you do in order to have done it, rather than for the pleasure of the experience, but I’d read about how steep it is and I wanted to see for myself.
Verdict: yes, some parts are really steep, but a lot of parts aren’t so bad. The main thing about this hike is that you get to see a lot of forest, a lot of tree trunks (fallen and upright) and not much else. No views, no clearings, no space for wildlife sightings. Although I saw three disappearing wallabies and a fair few crimson rosellas. There is one section near the top where the mountain ash are spectacular but other than that it’s just forest, some with ferns and some without.  A certain mistiness added atmosphere. 
There’s a disproportionately la…

Bruny Island Ultra 64 km, 1 December

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I had a busy November and I kept going until 1 December just to be sure. In November I did Carcoar Marathon, Marysville 50 km, weekend off, Lilydale Marathon and then I ran the Bruny Island Ultra 64 km on 1 December to end my year of races.
Bruny Island was a bit different from other ultras in having only two (very modest) aid stations on the course so we had to bring our own support. I took Dom. He drove while I ran, and we met up at intervals so that he could hand me lollies and drinks. Most of the field is made up of teams whose members run segments of the course which can range from two kilometres to doing 32 km each as a couple, or any variation in between. So it’s a fully supported relay race with a contingent of solo runners.
I was nervous about how it would be to run with so many cars (one per solo runner and often several per team) sharing the road, whether I would spot Dom among the support vehicles and whether he would spot me. In the end none of these became issues, the cars…

Marysville 50 km, 11/11/18

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I had a great run at the Marysville 50 km race. I always enjoy this one, despite the ferocious hills, but I was not expecting to do a PB on the course this weekend. Especially after having done the very hilly Carcoar Cup Marathon the previous weekend, where I felt good and thought I was running strongly right up to the end, only to find that I ran this one slower than last time in 2014. There were lots of similarities between the two races: lovely scenery, smallish field, enthusiastic aid stations and not much flat ground. The hills in Marysville are far steeper, and the trails are rougher.
My day in Marysville didn’t start out the best when I got to the first aid station and realised I was supposed to bring a cup with me. I have several collapsible cups but they were all at home. For the first two aid stations I was able to use a real cup that the aid stations had available for idiots who arrived without a cup. Between aid stations I scoured the roadsides for discarded bottles but saw…

100 kilometres de Millau, Sept 29, France

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I have happy memories now from a day which I initially thought I was going to look back on as unremittingly horrible. I started out feeling awful, really lethargic, and ended up feeling pretty good, actually quite surprised at how well I could run after having been running for so many hours. It was a very warm day but even that didn’t spoil things for me, although my day really picked up when the sun went down.
There were some rather unusual aspects to this race, the most obvious one being that runners were allowed to be accompanied by a supporter on a bicycle for the final 93 kilometres of the route. I was very alarmed when I first heard this because I thought that so many bikes on the course would be a nuisance, but even though it seemed that most runners had a bike rider with them the bikes were rarely an issue. Having the bikes around meant that, as the field spread out, even when I couldn't see other runners I could generally see a bike so I didn’t feel so alone, and all those…

Marathon Touraine Loire Valley, September 23

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It was wet and windy for my marathon today, quite a change from the hot weather I’ve had almost all summer in Europe. The Marathon Touraine Loire Valley (yes, English spelling) sounded like a pretty race going through little villages and along the Loire river, starting in the centre of Tours. I found it quite humid at first and I worried about that, and also the road seemed slippery in the wet.
The route took us along small roads and bike tracks (Loire à vélo) through farmland (that means cornfields and other vegetables) - I recall a huge field of bright green spinach leaves - and some light forest. We ran alongside a small river for a while. The highlight at 19 km was running through the grounds of Chateau Villandry, a pretty castle in pretty grounds, although the path was very slippery. Next door to the castle was a nice looking Romanesque church. A lot of the route wasn’t all that exciting, a bit like running the Traralgon Marathon with a castle thrown in and the supporters calling …

Tour of Mont Blanc

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This alpine hike was the focus of my whole trip and it did not disappoint. Eight days of unparalleled hiking enjoyment over about 175 kilometres in three countries around the perimeter of the Mont Blanc massif. I had, for the most part, perfect weather and the feast of glorious views will be hard to put into words. Almost every day I was able to indulge my love of hiking uphill with climbs of 800 to 1300 vertical metres. The descents always felt longer to me, though. My fears about travelling too light and having made my days ambitiously long came to nothing and I feel that there is little I could have changed for the better. The only items in my pack that I never got to use were my rain pants and my earplugs, and that has to be an indication of a good time.
Sunday 2 September A longish climb out of Courmayeur (1226m) in forest with a few openings to look back down on the town. And then I was above the tree line with mountains all along the horizon. I knew then and there that this hike …