We didn’t come last – mission accomplished! And while our time was longer than last year, so was the distance we covered. Our average pace was quicker, so I can’t complain too much.
On to the event itself. Started off on the wrong foot when I realised I was out of jelly beans! My only tried and tested fueling for running and definitely required for this event. Quick stop at a petrol station and I had to make do with whatever I could find – ended up with some fruit chews of some sort. Individually wrapped so I could just put a handful in my pocket and hopefully they wouldn’t make a mess everywhere.
Dropped my car off near the finish and we both headed off to the start location in Baulkham Hills. We were pretty early, but a good number of people were already there with more turning up right up to start time. The long event runners headed off at 9:00 and we headed over to the start area to pick up our first maps and wait for it to begin at 9:15. The idea of this race, as with many orienteering events, is that you don’t look at the map until your time starts. But with most of the field already studying and planning their route we didn’t see why we should be the only ones left out!
A quick countdown from the starters phone and we were all off. The rest of the field quickly pulled away from us – it was fast! Only one checkpoint in the first kilometre and we clocked a speedy sub 6 minutes. Way too fast, but we were already being left behind with only one or two other runners still in sight. It had felt a fairly easy run at the pace, but it was early days yet with approximately another 11km to go.
Through a small network of overgrown bush tracks for the next point and then on to what would feature for a large part of the event – smooth, paved bike paths through peaceful parkland. The gentle slopes made for easy running (and walking) and the majority of the controls were easy to find. Up over a hill on some roads, then down to another parkland following a creek bed. Under some major roads, a few short hills, a bit of backtracking and we were still moving well.
There was only one other person from our event in occasional sight at this point when all of a sudden we were being surrounded by the lead runners from the long event. The two events overlapped for a short time before we found ourselves at the water drop where we also picked up our third and final map. At this point we had covered close to 9km and I was looking forward to a short run to the finish. No such luck – this map listed the distance as just under 5km! Nothing to be done but to keep going.
More roads, I planned a zig-zag route through the streets ignoring contours – oops! Took us over a hill, not the best idea, but at least it wasn’t too big and we had some fast downhill on the other side. Again crossing paths with runners from the long event, and stopping to remove some bark from inside my shoe. Onwards and more roads with runners going in all different directions as we all headed closer and closer to the finish line.
An hour and a half in and we hit the most technical, single track of the whole thing to find the next control at a creek crossing. Started seeing a lot more people now as this area was covered in the short courses which all started and ended at the finish location. Four more controls to go and we were in the final bit of bush. A tangled network of tracks to find our way through, multiple other orienteers to dodge and controls everywhere as we tried to keep some speed up. Into the finish area – but where was the flag?! Everyone was milling around for presentations while we scanned the area looking for that final point to beep into. Ah – there it is, behind everyone!
Not last. A few more long coursers still to come in, a final medium course runner and plenty of people still out on the shorter courses. While our time was slower than last year, there was more than an extra kilometre on the length we ran. Our overall pace was 20 seconds per kilometre quicker and moving pace was almost a minute better. Which just shows that I needed too many stops this year.
Again, the first 8km I stuck to my goal of 8km/hr average. The next 2km weren’t too far off and then it started creeping up a little more. I still had a good bit of running left in me at the end though, unlike last year where my energy levels crashed after 8km and by 12km I was dragging myself along. A good greasy lunch before heading home refueled us enough so we could still entertain the girls when we got home. While tired, I felt good at the end and my recovery wasn’t too bad. My calves and quads gave a few twinges over the next couple of days, but otherwise I’ve just been a bit tired.
Now just to hope I’ve got enough in the tank to follow it up with the NOSH Footrace on Sunday!
Stats for the Turkey Trot:
- Distance: 13.5km
- Time: 1:48:48 (moving time 1:38)
- Elevation: 114m
- Average Pace: 8:05min/km (moving pace 7:17min/km) last years pace was 8:24min/km