1 week ago I ran my personal best distance-wise for almost a year. It wasn't my fastest time by a long shot, but given the terrain, the absolute remoteness and self-reliance expected, and where I was at with my body and on-going achilles niggle, I was stoked just to make it back to the finish line. Even better, I felt strong, happy, and as if I could've run a little further.
It's an old story. The one of injury. Every runner will experience it at some stage, whether it's a toenail that falls off, a scratch or scrape, or something more insidious like an ITB inflammation or the dreaded achilles tendonopathy. When injury happens to you as a runner though, the implications become personal. No longer are you able to enjoy what gave you the most pleasure, that sense of freedom not found elsewhere. I would also argue that it is hard for non-runners to understand the absense of running in one's life.
For the last 3 months I have been carefully managing this niggle. Some days are great and I can run carefree, other days a simple 40min run at an easy pace really aggravates the injury. There is no rhyme or reason, just management and celebration after every run. Luckily, hiking hills and downhill running didn't seem to cause any problems, and so this is where I have focused my efforts! Going into this race I was really nervous of my own capabilities: the longest training run I had completed was 34km, so 100km seemed like a very long distance all of a sudden!
The Alpine Challenge 100km was a race I really wanted to do. I really wanted to run in the Australian Alps, to run in our own unique Alpine landscape. And it was an amazing journey. For the first 50km I was mostly running with a few friends, enjoying the scenery and being careful with my achilles. For the second 50km I was alone, surrounded by true mountain weather - mist, rain, passing sunshine, and feeling stronger as I got closer to the finish.
The team (myself, Nick, my sister Thea, and my brother Werner) at the Tawonga Gap lookout before race day:
Race morning, 4:15am, with Matt Cooper, feeling pretty surreal in the dark:
Waiting at the start:
The Victorian Alps waking up, a beautiful morning for running (photo: Werner)
Arriving on the summit of Mt Bogong. 35km and 6 hours later.. (Photos: Werner):
Quick check-in with my crew - here with my lovely sister Thea:
Heading off from the second checkpoint at Langford's Gap (at 63km). By now the weather had changed and it was cold and rainy (Photos: Werner):
Race presentation at Bogong Jacks (Photo: Werner)
With Matt Cooper (He set a new course record for the men in the 100km, and won outright in 12:31hr):
Arriving at the finish, with only a handful of people - the Alpine Search and Rescue representative, my crew, and Matt Cooper`s parents, I realised that in the end finishing your own personal journey is what matters.
I`m ever grateful to my amazing support crew: my brother, sister, and sister`s boyfriend. Thanks also to Salomon and Suunto Australia - your support of the sport is incredible.