The last trail “race” (and my only trail race!) I ran was back in July 2016 – the Glasshouse Trail Series, Flinders Tour, 26km. It was a fantastic experience. I loved it. But, my knees were already a little dodgy before then, and semi hopping to the finish line, followed by a week snowboarding in Queenstown, NZ, was pretty much the final straw for my legs…

Six months on and with a little uncertainty and a lot of last minute decision making, I found myself driving down to Brissie for this event as an “on the day” entry. I’ve been back running a little (and a lot of run/walking) the last couple of months, and I just love being a part of events – the new faces and the opportunity to run new tracks, so I figured – what’s the worst that can happen on a course less than 9km. Fortunately, I was right!

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You could get away with just a handheld water bottle for the short course, but I find the pack really comfy and like to carry essentials like…the GoPro… in addition to lots of water

Your mindset has to shift enormously as you come back from a long injury. I’m no mountain goat, but six months ago I was settling into the longer two hour ++ runs and would have been unlikely to make a three hour drive for 8.6kms of running… but, this was the perfect event for getting back into it.

If you live on the Sunny Coast and/or have ever run the Nambour Parklands Parkrun – I’d say the Bunyaville trails are pretty close to Parklands – there’s single track and wider trails, and a lot of up and down amidst the trees. I heard a lot of people commenting on the heat and humidity – but to be honest, we’ve had it hot and humid (aka stumid) up here, so it didn’t feel too terrible. That’s the good thing about short course when it’s hot; you’re not out there for too long.

The race was really well organised – easy to park; easy to enter on the day and clear wave starts, meaning that it wasn’t too chocka block when you hit the first little segment of single track, not far from the start line. It is an uphill though so if you want to get ahead of the pack, you’re best to start at the front of the wave or at least leg it down the first hill, as you’ll most likely find yourself stuck behind someone, as I did. No stress though – this wasn’t about time for me, this was mainly to see how much I could run of the course – and especially the downhills, which have become the nemesis for my knees.

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Bib collection and on the day entries – too easy

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Race briefing. A whole load of different hydration packs on show

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Warm up – checking out the first section – straight into a downhill

And before you know it you hit the first “long” climb. I was pleased to run the hills for the first half of the race, and then mainly due to my lack of running fitness at this stage in my recovery, I walked a number of the hills in the second half. I was pretty blooming excited to run downhill a lot of the time though – even if it was like a tentative pansy; not exactly attacking the hills like a seasoned trail runner.

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Heading to the first climb of the race – both the long and short course runners begin with this

There was a great attitude out on the course, with a whole mix of runners of varying shapes and sizes and experience. The long and short course athletes share some sections of the trail and I’d overheard someone saying they had found themselves lost out there in previous years, but from my experience the course was very clearly marked on this occasion. Keep the pink tape on your left and Bob’s your Uncle – you’ll make it around no problem.

Towards the end of the course there was a section of a long slow, slight upward slog. One of those gradients where you feel it looks flat, but your legs don’t agree. A friendly chap assured me we were on the last climb and we’d be heading for the downhill soon… which in part was true, because there was some downhill to come… but what he failed to mention was that the race ends on the same trail it started on – another short-ish slow-ish climb. Nothing too steep, but again, enough to keep you honest at the end of the race if you’ve mainly been running on the flat the last couple of months!

When you’re so close to the finish line, the “you can’t walk now” feeling kicks in, so I slogged on up to the Finish arch and was greeted at the top by “Those Guys” and a crowd of finishers and spectators. The guy who won the long course finished a few minutes after me… Glad I beat him 😉

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Cheers.

All in all, Bunyaville was most certainly Funyaville, and I’d definitely recommend the run for a friendly little undulating hit out. I’ll be checking out the other runs in the series now. There’s no doubt that one of the key things I’ve missed about running has been the people – and with trails, the mutual appreciation for being a little off the track and running through these beautiful places.

Final result: Over the moon to have been able to run at all! 8.6km, 222m elevation, 52 mins 04. Very unexpected (…maybe the better runners just do the long course?! Or maybe I shouldn’t be so British about it…) but chuffed to have finished 13th Female of 143; 45th of 236 total and 4th of 30 in F26-35. Regardless, this was just a great way to kick off Sunday morning, thanks everyone.

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In true “all the gear” style, I made a little purchase after the race… Let’s see how I go with toe socks… Love the pattern at least 🙂

More details on the South East Queensland Trail Running Series here.

Kit I used on the day:

  1. Salomon S-Lab hydration pack – I just love how easy this is to wear. I ran with 2 x 500ml soft bottles, although didn’t need this much hydration during the race. It’s handy to store other stuff too, like cameras and phones…
  2. Hoka One One Challenger ATR – my favourite trail shoes
  3. Compressport socks – my go to for running socks, although I do prefer the lighterweight, longer version
  4. SOAS shorts – these are triathlon shorts but for someone with larger, non mountain goat thighs, these just don’t chafe and have a great waistband and some small pockets in the back too
  5.  Garmin Fenix 3 – I had intended to wear my 920XT for trail runs, but the Fenix is just so easy to wear and I love my Rose Gold version – the white band is getting a bit manky in the dirt though!
  6. Oakley Radars – to be honest they just stayed on my visor for the duration of the race. They did a great job there though 😉
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