Cleland 50, South Australia
Most of the race was in the forest and sheltered from the wind. It was a mix of single track and fire trails. There were little red wildflowers. We did a nice stretch on hillside single track on Mount Osmond with excellent views over Adelaide. We climbed to several lookouts, including going over Mt Lofty twice. I thought it was all fine going, not too repetitive, not too hard. The field spread out and after the first hour I was running alone without seeing anyone else for long stretches at a time.
We returned to the start/finish area after 23 kilometres, where a solicitous first aider asked if I was drinking, eating and weeing ok. Yes to the first two, and I was very keen to wee but hadn’t seen anywhere sufficiently secluded!
Lap two was not only longer but harder. After a while we ran up to a lookout and on the way down some girls were muttering "I know what’s coming...". What was coming? I turned onto a reasonable downhill on a gravelly trail; but just before I turned off to run it I had spotted a runner in the distance going on straight uphill, so I asked someone (who happened to be standing at the turnoff) why I was being sent downhill and it emerged that I would be coming back this way later. So from then on I knew whatever I did I would be doing in reverse in due course. And it was worth knowing that.
We went down down down into a gully, followed the creek for a while and then started on what was going to be a very long and extremely steep uphill. It was mostly grassy and was tough going for a long time. There would be a bend, maybe a brief respite, and then more climbing. A few runners were hurtling downhill and I wasn’t sure I was looking forward to that either. We went back into the forest, and there I saw my friend chatting to an emu through a fence. I hadn’t seen him since the opening few kilometres and I was expecting to finish long after him, based on what I knew of his marathon times.
Eventually I got to the next aid station and continued into a loop. I think it was along here that I saw what looked like a furry rock just off the trail; some hikers were fumbling for their cameras so I guess it must have been a koala but I didn’t have time to stop. I got back to that aid station and had a cup of black coffee. It was delicious. I also collected my drop bag with my head torch; I didn’t know what time it was but I didn’t think it was getting dark any time soon.