Just the right amount of mud
With a hectic work schedule over winter I was looking forward to my 3rd 50km Kowalski Classic and a weekend away in the nation's capital. Having the race postponed was a good thing for me and allowed a full recovery from a rather nasty flu in September.
Arrived in time to see a closeup of the Elites start in the 100km - was interesting to see them all joking on the front line in the leadup and then when the 30 seconds call was announced things turned a little more serious and the talking stopped There were ominous signs at the start of the 50km waves when the wind caused the inflatable archway to tear and it came crashing down to cheers and jeers from those in the starting chute.
I self-seeded in the 9:30am start and settled into a nice little rhythm up the first firetrail climb which seemed longer than the course profile suggested. The first new trail for 2016 - Yipkaye - was great though was in a large train of people so couldnt go full pelt down here - an excuse to come back later right?
Into Sparrow Hill and the plan was to give it some (well as much as a weekend warrior can) up the first climb which I did. The guys around me at the top of the climb would be my partners for the rest of the race as we all were very similar abilities / fitness. The trails were in great shape for the most part with a few boggy sections which I either rode through if there was a decent line or hopped off and 'cyclocrossed' it which, at times, caused me to lose some time as others ride through.
The wind wasnt too bad in amongst the trees though out in the open it was getting pretty wild and grew stronger as the day wore on.
The view over the plains coming into the 32km feed zone (top of trig) was great and I stopped to refill a bottle before heading off again in under 2 mins. This year, like last year, the legs seemed to struggle in the last 15kms but pushing on we were treated to some great trails - the tight trail just before heading back over to Kowen reminded me a little of Stromlo as it was fairly bare compared to the rest of the loop.
It wouldn't be a Kowalski without a decent climb in the last few k's and this year they took us up the start of Meatballs and then Big Wednesday. It was no 'Stairway to Heaven' but presented its own challenge due to the numerous switchbacks involved.
Found some energy (after one final firetrail climb of course) to sprint across the line in just over 3.5 hours - happy enough with finishing firmly in the midfield for both my age category and overall. This was my final race in Veterans and next I year I graduate to the Masters category.
As always at these kinds of events away from the pointy end, everyone I encountered was on their best behaviour whilst passing / being passed. The camaraderie among people I was racing with was great and we all had a laugh watching people (including me) struggle to climb over a huge tree which had fallen across the trail that morning.
Well done to all the other nobmobbers who raced and finished!