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2013 Australian Marathon Championships

Brian's picture

By Brian - Posted on 23 April 2013

Re: This ride meeting: 
2013 Australian Marathon Championships
Position (Overall): 
Race Category: 
Men's Full Marathon Veterans
Position (Category): 

I'll start with wow, what a hard race. Below also includes the week before as we had a few descent rides up there in the week leading to the race.

Originally I wasn't gong to do this and just focus on the XCM series. As the XCM series announcement kept getting delayed I decided I would have a crack at this. I was already signed up for the Wombat but once they announced there was no series Dicko and I decided to pull out of the Wombat and head up a week early.

As the date came closer I was excited about the whole trip, a weeks riding and then the race.

We flew up on the 13th and stepping out of the airport the heat and humidity hits you strait away. We trundle into Cairns and check out the local Specialized store, get something to eat and then head over to Atherton. The accommodation ( Wayne had sorted out was awesome. We had the big house as we were going to be joined by Anthony, Kyle and Michael later on in the week. We assembled our bikes as our plan was to head out the next day and do the full course (3 laps) just to see what it was going to be like.

We headed out Sunday and after having a chat to the local club guys we had a rough idea where to go. I also had a GPS file loaded although it didn’t end up working for the first lap and we took a wrong turn. This sent us over the Herberton Range and a long way off so we found the highway and rode that to get back to the start. Here’s the profile of the first lap and you can see how far off course we went Getting back to the start I got the GPS course working properly and we headed out for a second lap. By the time we got back for the second lap it was late so we weren’t going to do a third. One thing at the end of doing the second lap confirmed was how hard the race was going to be doing 3 laps. I can’t remember the last time where my average speed was below 14km/h. Here’s that profile including the ride home

The course itself was an awesome course for a race. Mt Buller type single track, no braking bumps on the berms, A and B lines for gap jumps, massive climbs to keep you honest, rain forest, smooth and rough fire roads and an old disused down hill track to get you off the mountain range you’ve just climbed.

Monday we had a rest day and did a bit of sight seeing. I’ll post a pic of this huge Fig tree we saw. Absolutely unbelievable.

Tuesday morning I was on the phone to the bike shop in Cairns for suggestions on a place to ride as Monday afternoon/night 100mm of rain was recorded at Mareeba which is up the road. Also, according to locals, Atherton normally will get rain when Mareeba records nothing so there was no way we were riding at Atherton. To our surprise they suggested Davies Creek at Mareeba as it is all granite and drains well. We headed over there in 30+ temps and were amazed at how dry the track was. Following the well marked trails we smashed out 2 x 20km circuits and were happy to be back in the 20km/h average again Smiling. I thought this track was so much fun. Lots of little pinches but no dirty big climbs like Sundays ride. Here’s a profile of that loop

As Tuesday was dry, Wednesday we thought we would go out in the afternoon to give the trails more time to dry and just do the challenge course. The challenge course is the first bit of single track (Ridgey Didge), one dirty big climb and then the down hill track. All the creek crossings we up and the track was wetter then the Sunday. Here’s that profile

Thursday was a rest day and also Anthony, Kyle and Michael were flying in Thursday arvo to join us in the house.

Friday we all went out and did one full loop of the course to show the guys what they were in for. A lot of the creek crossings had dropped quite a bit and I think I was also feeling like I was handling the heat better which was good. It wasn’t until Friday arvo walking around town my right leg started to hurt just in front of my shin. By Friday night it wasn’t feeling good at all and I was a bit worried. Here’s the profile from Friday including the ride home and lunch at the café.

Saturday I woke and my leg wasn’t good at all so it was definitely just a rest day. Saturday night I made the call if I can ride up the driveway Sunday morning I would start the race. Michael Crosbie had been bitten by something on Friday and his thigh was swelling up big time so Saturday night he went off to hospital and got some antibiotics for the infection.

Sunday (Race Day). I wake and my leg was not good but I said if I can ride up the driveway I would start. I rolled down to the main road and spun back up to the house and figured, a couple of panadeine should get me to the start line. After we dropped all the bottles and food down to the start in the car we then rolled down on the bikes. The 9am start meant it was a pretty relaxed morning getting ready. I signed on and then they start calling up the mens categories in order for then what would be a mass start.

The gun goes and the pace was on from the start. I didn’t do anything crazy and try to keep up as I new it was going to be a long hot day although my HR was still hitting the 180’s early on. As usual, in the first 500m there were some close calls when 2 riders touched sending one straight in front of me and off into the bush. The pace up Ridgey Didge was on when another rider in front of me goes to overtake a rider over an awkward log roll and crashes so we all have to stop. We get to the first big climb and I just spun up knowing there were more brutal climbs to come. By this I mean it’s still hurting like hell but I was running about 5 bpm below where I would just blow up. The second lot of climbs were tough and I was just trying not think about the fact I was still on the first lap. Anytime I would pass a rider I would always look back to see if they were in my category as we were all numbered accordingly. The rain forest section was hard as my glasses were tinted and also covered in salt. The minute I took them off I got hit big time by an insect although it felt like a small bird. Out of the rain forest I passed a rider in my category so I put the pace on and opened up a gap (for now). I get to the top of the down hill and not being able to see to well I get it wrong and bang, I’m over the bars in the bush. In the tumble my sore leg gets struck. I’m lying in the bush and now feeling like shit thinking, man, I haven’t even done one lap. To make it worse, the guy I worked hard to pass cruises on by. I roll into transition and all I can think about is taking more pain killers. A couple more panadeine, some clear lenses, more water and food and I’m off for the second lap.

If I thought the first lap was tough, the second was a killer. The oven was now on high and I found myself riding to any part of the track if there was some shade on offer. Even if it was just for half a second of shade it felt worth it. Half way around the second lap I had convinced myself I have had enough. A stumble in the rain forest meant my leg was killing me now. I was drinking plenty but my food intake had slowed. I finally get to the down hill and just take it really slow seeing my tracks going off in the bush from the previous lap. The last few kms of the course is just relatively flat single track so I just spin into transition. Here I see Anthony and Kyle as they’ve called it a day. I tell them I’m done. This is where Anthony kicks in with some words of encouragement and basically, if you haven’t started cramping you should continue on. I said I would only go on if they find me some caffeine gels to give me a kick. They get me the gels, I have a banana, Anthony lubes my chain and I’m off for the 3rd lap.

By now there is more shade and it doesn’t feel as brutal as the first two laps although it’s still hot. I’m also overtaking a lot of half marathon riders which makes it feel like you’re going faster. I get to the top of the first big climb and stop at the water stop to throw some water over me. I take off for the next set of climbs and now there is no turning back. Its amazing mentally even with more climbing to go, once I passed the first water stop on the last lap I said to myself, I’ve done it. By now I was stuffed though and my HR was pretty low but I actually managed to make my 3rd lap faster then my second lap.

My official race time is 07:23:49 and 4th in Mens Veterans. I can tell you now that I certainly haven’t been training for 7+ hours in the saddle. When the Elite men’s winner (Jason English) averages below 20km/h for the race you know it’s a tough course.

I had an awesome time and a big thanks to Wayne, Anthony, Kyle and Michael for making it such a classic trip away.

Also, thanks to the local guys for the awesome course and hospitality. If you are looking to head up to Far North Queensland for riding definitely make Atherton a destination.

My profile from the race is below along with the results.

xmas's picture

and a big well done on your result!

Dicko's picture

Great effort mate, this is perfect preparation for our dig at the Cape Epic next year.

To even start the race with the pain you were feeling, but to complete 3 laps of one of the hardest marathon courses is a testament to your will power and determination.

Well done.

craked's picture

fantastic result Brian, you showed great mental strength to push on and finish what was obviously one of the hardest events on the calender,
well done mate

Antsonline's picture

Brian - both Kyle and I were walking around the supermarket this evening talking about your ride (how banal life is when you get back from a trip like that!).
We both agreed that you just quietly go about your business with such efficiency and control - you deserved a good ride - and given your ankle, the conditions, your time on the bike that day, I think its fair to say you had a great ride.
You paced the effort well, and just rode on into the unknown (once you go oer 6hrs, in that heat, with that much climbing, its unknown) - it was brave, determined, and really motivating to be part of.

4th place, 7hrs 23 mins. Amazing stats.
No doubt you'll head to Convict and quietly push out another very good ride. Thats assuming you can walk again after this weekend!

Well done. Heroic ride.

Brian's picture

Thanks for all the support. I'm now in the position of waiting for my leg to come good

jp's picture

Great write up and result Brian, thanks for sharing.

Brian's picture

I just worked out I was 45th overall mens after the first lap, the 43rd after the second lap and then 29th after the 3rd lap. That last lap really changed the results quite a bit.

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