It doesn’t always work out that we both get to do the same race, but it’s a shame Gabby missed this one, because it was a beauty

The central north coast of Tasmania put on a stunning day for this beach/trail combination.  Beginning at 10am in the cooler autumn morning was perfect.  We arrived (on time for once) the full family in tow. Although this would be my first trail run of this distance, mentally I was ready – I had breakfasted at 7, coffee at 8 (yessss), lightly strapped ankles and toes taped (of course!).  My CamelBak had 1.5L of Shotz hydration, 2 gels (1 caffeine, 1 normal), a small bag of jelly beans and a Bonk Breaker bar for an emergency.  This was it – we were on!  

The run group was around 80 for this particular event.  Earlier in the day 40 participants headed off for the 50km version, and after we left there would be a 12 and 5k also.

Our run started with 6km of Greens Beach before doubling back and past the start line to head onto the trail.  A couple of people commented this was further than previous years…a valid point I later learned.  The trail around the headland of Greens Beach is a good, good track.  Single width, mostly flat and fun.  You see the sea pretty much constantly (except when you’re watching your feet, pretty much constantly!) – there’s a little sense of undulation but nothing too stressful.  I led the females off the beach – and was overtaken shortly after on the trail by the eventual female winner.  She laughed as she went past “you’ll probably catch me on the flat”…I didn’t – she was awesomely strong.

11km in, I was happy

The sun was shining, the trails were cool, I was feeling strong.  Coming off the headland there was a nicely placed drink station before we headed down onto Badger Beach.  I’m not sure why this is named Badger Beach – there are no badgers in Tasmania.  Someone mentioned a nudist beach in the area – given its seclusion, it might have been this one…

I hit Badger Beach (fully clothed, eyes front) and commenced the slog that was the 5km to the other end.  I was in full sun now, with a hefty headwind – the prevailing westerly.  The tide was very low so the sand was firm to run on.  But this was long – and mentally tough running in a straight line – It took me about 30 mins to get to the other end of the beach, to Badger Head – and to a drink station!  I was definitely tired at this point because I felt like I was wandering around the tables of chopped banana (ewww) and lollies looking for that certain something else to kick start me again.  I reminded myself that as Gabby wasn’t there to boost me,  I’d have to get this done all alone.  I remembered I had jelly beans and hydration (when did I last have a drink?) so rested for a moment in the shade, sucked down on the Camelbak and threw in a couple of jelly beans.  

Once back onto the beach – and past the family sitting on the sand (yes, fully clothed) the jelly beans were down and I was off.  I was at 17km – well over halfway there.  

Mentally, this was ALL good.   

Heading back across the beach I was meeting all the runners who were behind me. Seeing people I knew (and those I didn’t) was a boost and I lifted my pace a little.  Cadence was good, feet were striking below the hips, posture was upright, ….what was that burning feeling on my shoulder? Never mind.

The beach back was just as long and straight and bright and warm, but the headland was slowly approaching, and the kms were ticking by.  By the time I reached the drink station again, my Suunto said 21km…just 4 to go and I was third female at this point  – with a good distance to 4th.  

Here’s where it gets interesting/not fun/hard…

I assumed that as we had run 6km around the headland at the start, the return to the finish line must be a cut through, perhaps down a road for a bit.  I forced back my caffeine laden gel (ooh that thing fought me every swallow), and casually asked a volunteer which way.  Smiling, they replied “back the way you came – good luck”.  Um what?  

via GIPHY

I took off running while mentally trying to calculate what was going on.  I had programmed the brain to do 25km today, we were gunning for that – but when I realised I had at least 6km to go, the enthusiasm drooped a little.  It was hot by now.  The small climb I had ahead of me seemed to grow as I went up.  I mentally fogged over and doubt crept in.

I began to notice my feet were aching in my shoes, the burning on my shoulder was some fairly severe chafing from my too-loose Camelbak straps, hips were painful with each step.  Negativity arrived.

I made it to the finish line – a stunning 28km of gorgeous scenery behind me (yes – 28!!).  Tired and nauseous I had to ask Stu to work the tap to get me a water.  But it was done in 5:45 min/km and a time of 2hrs 41min.  I lost 2 more places in those last 3 km, finishing  5th female to some truly lovely and inspirational girls.  I knew I had hit the wall – I’d felt it before a few years back, but I was puzzled as I thought I’d done it all right.

Later, at home after a short nap, Epsom Salts bath and the all-important social media post, I unpacked my Camelbak, and noticed I had a full litre of electrolytes left.  I’d run 28km in full sun on 600ml of fluid – uh, hello?  Lesson learned here:  Just because the Camelbak straw is in your mouth, doesn’t mean you’re drinking enough.  Next trail, aim for slowing down periodically to be able to drink more.  

This is what I LOVE about this.  Each race – no matter what happens, gives you something to take away, something to learn from, something to throw out there for discussion in your running group.  Add that to the smiles from your competitors, the phenomenal scenery we are continually treated to and the ever present runners high – this is why we do it.

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